Executive Director, Owner

Vanessa Handal-Ghenania

A little bit about myself…

As a native French speaker, who has lived and traveled around the world, I arrived in New York, the place I consider “home”, over 14 years ago. I have been a school educator for over 8 years. I hold two masters degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University (one in bilingual education, the other, from the Principal Academy, in school building administration.) I have worked and taught curriculum in French in private and public institutions (LFNY, PS58). I have worked on the administration side as a curriculum advisor and developer, in New York City (NYFACS). I am currently an instructor in the bilingual department and have been a consultant and student teacher supervisor, at Teachers College, Columbia University.

After the birth of my twin sons (who are now 4 years old and attending the Lycée Français de New York), and soon after the birth of my third son, I developed the daycare project, which is Petits Poussins (West Harlem). As a parent, who comes from a French educational background and who has traveled the world, I have always realized the importance of immerging my children in a bilingual and multicultural environment. My children therefore inspired me to develop a top quality program for them and for parents with the same vision in mind.

My project was quickly embraced in the community and now, I am the owner of two locations in Harlem (Columbia University area) and have attracted Francophone and Anglophone students from over 10 different countries.

My dream to expand and create a preschool is now coming to life. I am very excited to open Arc En Ciel and to be a part of this amazing new journey with your little ones!


French Teacher

Nassima Tellache

My first teaching experience was at a Junior High School, where I was in charge of administering national exams and suggesting new teaching methods that increased students test scores. This is where I realized I wanted to pursue teaching as a career. For the past seven years, I have been working with special needs preschoolers in New York City. During this period, I was very devoted to helping children learn and show progress during their early years.

I received a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Psychology before moving to the U.S. Since moving, I received a teaching assistant certificate in Early Childhood Education from The City University of New York. I am also a mother of three beautiful girls that enrich my life.
I come from an international background as I was given the opportunity to learn three languages at a young age, which is why I am very excited for the opportunity to work in a bilingual setting. I find it highly important for children to learn languages at an early age, as it can help them to develop socially and cognitively.

I am looking forward to being a part of Arc En Ciel, where I will be able to serve the children by sharing my experience and devotion to helping them learn in a safe and rich environment.

Bilingual Teacher

Gabrielle Payne

Growing up in Ohio, I was consistently encouraged to immerse myself in the arts. I found myself particularly interested in the performing arts, which is where my teaching career began. I instructed many classes from ballet to tap to yoga for all ages of students. Through my background and passion for the culinary and musical fields, I try to incorporate and apply all of these arts into math and science activities to help students become well-rounded grown-ups.

After studying at Ohio State, Université de Poitiers in France, and University of Oregon, I graduated in 2015 with a Bachelors of arts in French. I then began working at Atlas Immersion Academy, a French immersion preschool in Portland, Oregon, where I discovered my love for working in the early childhood field.

I believe strongly in teaching to our youth the importance of nature and our duty to take care of it. I enjoy spending time outside explaining the small differences between the many flowers, trees, and insects in order to better appreciate and celebrate their uniqueness.

I am very happy to be joining the Arc En Ciel family, and cannot wait to be a part of constructing a creative and inspiring environment for these wonderful children!

French Teacher

Claude Jacquelin
Claude Jacquelin

I’m a native French speaker and I have lived in France and travelled around the world for more than 20 years as an expat, in England, Finland, South Korea, Vietnam and recently moved to New York City with my family.

I’m an early childhood illustrator, independent artist and a graduate graphic designer. I have worked for more than a decade as an art workshop leader in French schools abroad with bilingual children from pre-kindergarten to 9th grade.

In my opinion learning art should not be considered as a luxury or an extra after school activity.

I truly believe that art and language should be considered and integrated in curriculum in early childhood as a major source of developmental benefit.

Children must experience and develop their motor skills, improve their language development but should also live in artistic friendly environment in order to awaken curiosity, creativity and inventiveness, build their interest in understanding visual learning and decision making. The learning of all of these academic performances is developed while performing art in pre-school which is essential to the childhood development process.

I have experienced extraordinary enthusiasm in Art classes and seen how much art helps kids to find their own way during this incredible journey, to get through an adventure we call education.

I’m looking forward to sharing my passion and experience and I will be delighted to work with the pedagogic team at Arc en Ciel!

English Teacher

Melody Bates

I am a native New Yorker who is passionate about teaching and learning. I have a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as New York State Initial Teacher Certification in Early Childhood Education (Birth-Grade 2).

I have previously worked with toddlers, preschoolers, pre-kindergarteners, and kindergarteners. I believe in promoting an inquiry stance in the classroom and creating a community where children feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their own ideas.

I am excited to join the team at Arc En Ciel, where I look forward to creating a warm, intellectually stimulating environment where the children can develop a genuine joy for learning!


Bilingual Teacher

Marilyn Dikkers Photo

Marilyn Dikkers

As a native-born American and lifelong French resident and citizen, as a mother and grandmother of tri-national offspring, and as an educator and administrator in varied educational settings, multi-lingualism has always been a part of my life.

I went to France in my early twenties, upon graduation from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in languages and journalism. After working initially in public relations and advertising, once my three sons were born I focused on language acquisition and childhood education – as a private primary school tutor, business English teacher, director of the BSF pre-school program, head of the Lycee International homeroom mothers function, and president of the board of the Lycee International American Section (in St.Germain-en-Laye).

My background as a linguist, translator, teacher, administrator, mother and grandmother has given me a unique perspective on the psychological and pedagogical needs of early childhood language learners. It has also given me a keen appreciation of the special challenges of bi- and multi-cultural children.
My passion and focus in working with pre-school children is on developing reasoning, cognitive skills, and verbal expression, with a special emphasis on acquiring a broad vocabulary and grammar base (yes, even at the pre-school level!).

Now a NYC resident, I am pleased to continue working with bi- and tri-lingual children at Arc-en-Ciel, to help bring them to a confident level in French and English, and to contribute to fostering a caring, stimulating bi-cultural environment in which they can thrive.