MMS Around the World: An Update from the Blachez Family in Paris (Isis ’14, Horace ’18, Ivanhoe ’19, Marcel ’23)

With such an international community, the MMS network of former families, faculty, and staff extends throughout the world. “MMS Around the World” is a periodic feature checking in with those who made MMS part of their U.S. home away from home. 

Isis Blachez didn’t speak English when she arrived at Metropolitan Montessori School in the third grade. Just one week later, her class took an overnight field trip to Black Rock Forest, and about the only way she could communicate was with simple hand gestures like putting her hands next to her head to signify sleep.

“The teachers really welcomed me and did everything they could so I’d feel like I’d fit in,” Isis remembers. “And after two to three months, I was bilingual.” 

The Blachez family, led by father Ludo and mother Pascale, originally moved to New York from Paris in 2010, with Isis (then 9 years old), Horace (then 4), and Ivanhoé (then 3) all assimilating into America by way of MMS. Marcel, their fourth child, was born in New York in 2011. 

The family moved back to Paris in 2016, but it’s clear that the school and city left a lasting impression on the whole family.

“We cried a lot,” Pascale recalls as she discusses the family leaving New York. “But we had to move back for Ludo’s work, otherwise we would have stayed in New York much longer, especially for the school system.”

Pascale views French schools as overly strict and less inclusive, a large contrast to how she felt about MMS’s more inclusive atmosphere. Her youngest son, Marcel, agrees.

“[French school] is really boring compared to Montessori,” said Marcel. “You just have to do what the teacher wants to do.” 

The family has kept close ties to many of their friends in the MMS community. 

“Some other families also went back to home to the Netherlands and Switzerland and we still connect with them and see them,” said Pascale. 

Ludo cited the emphasis on the arts as something they’ve been able to take away from their MMS experience and incorporate into their lives back in France. 

“We were already a musical family but MMS changed us a lot,” said Ludo. “The whole family is playing music together as a band.  I play the double bass, Pascale plays the piano and guitar, Isis plays the violin and piano, Horace plays the drums and guitar, Marcel is playing the trumpet. Ivanhoé is playing saxophone and following a program at school where he does academics in the morning and in the afternoon he focuses on music education.” 

Pascale seconded her husband’s notion that this new musicality was born at MMS. 

“That comes from our life in New York,” she said. “One of the parents invited us to do some caroling for Christmas while we were there, and we went caroling on the Upper West Side. I said once we go back to France, we have to do that, too, and now we play music in elderly residences to share music with isolated and sick people.” 

While the family will remain in France for the time being, Ivanhoé is already planning a summer trip to visit friends, and Isis will attend Columbia University in the fall after earning a diploma in economics and sociology at Sciences Po Paris. 

“We will be excited to meet with our friends in New York during those visits,” said Pascale. “Since we left New York, we have been able to visit our friends from MMS every summer and we were always excited to come back to NYC every year for a few weeks to see everyone and to stop by the school to say hello. Unfortunately, last summer we were not able to travel but we look forward to seeing them all again soon.”

-Dan Kricke