Can you tell us something about Dutch School Houston?
Dutch School Houston is a non-profit language school founded in 2019 in Houston by Olivia Simoen and Marlies Kempers. Olivia and Marlies first met in Belgium about 15 years ago and kept crossing paths ever since. Once they both moved to Houston their friendship led to establish Dutch School Houston.
Olivia is a Belgian international educator with extensive experience in teaching children of all ages all over the world. Developing students’ language skills has long been a passion of Olivia which she believes is most successfully accomplished through a thematic curriculum. This is a pedagogical approach that emphasizes learning professional content along with language skills which she believes is an extremely powerful way of teaching, especially for cross cultural kids.
Marlies loves language as an art to communicate and is especially amazed how cultural influences affect all levels of communication. She has a passion for design, organization, and creativity. Marlies is a Dutch international and has a background in law & marketing and communications.
Why did you choose Texas to open the Dutch School and what is your educational program?
The school was founded out of necessity as there was no accessible after school Dutch program in central Houston and of course out of love for the Dutch – Belgian language and heritage.
At Dutch School Houston we believe in theme-based learning whereby many areas of the curriculum are connected and integrated within a theme. It allows learning to be more natural and less fragmented. It helps students to see meaningful connections across disciplines and learning areas. The themes Dutch School Houston introduces are related to Dutch and Belgian culture/history to promote its integration within a student’s life.
Dutch School Houston teaches according to age. We have experienced that students are more motivated to learn in a class with similarly aged peers and an age appropriate theme. Small classes, with a maximum of 5 students easily facilitate customized exercises tailored to the level of each child.
What kind of advice can you give to Dutch entrepreneurs who want to do business in Texas?
We are still learning! Although our school is not for profit, we do organize and run our school like a business. For us that means keeping in close contact with the boards of the NTC (Nederlandse Taal- en Cultuur) schools, school – and university administrators, admission officers, student counselors and private educators. Not only in Houston and the rest of the world but especially in The Netherlands and Belgium. Networking is key!
Being part of Dutch School Houston means being part of our Dutch and Belgian community. We strongly believe in a family partnership where we learn about our language culture together.
Marlies Kempers & Juf Olivia Simoen