Tuesday, Aug 16th

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Hotseat - Franchi Felix

hotseat_745Clay Montessori Academy

Franchi is known to many from her neighbourhood. Her school years began at Hillside Christian School followed by completing high school at Learning Unlimited. For years, she has been dancing with Susha, first at Motiance then at Dance Theater of St. Maarten. Many pet owners will remember her from the Animal Hospital where she did her internship and worked in her spare time on weekends and vacations until she left the island. Having studied in the US for two years, Franchi has returned to the island and, together with her mom Dagma, has opened Clay Montessori Academy in Cul de Sac. With her striking, broad smile, she will captivate you and your children when meeting her.

Where were you born? Tell me a little about where you grew up.

I was born in St. Maarten. We lived in Dutch Quarter until I turned seven years old. My parents had been building our house in Back Street and we moved there. I went to primary and secondary school here in St. Maarten and then moved temporarily to Virginia where I attended Hampton University.

Please tell me something about your educational background.

At Hampton University, I studied psychology and communication sciences and disorders. Right now I am doing an associate business management program with Penn Foster Education. I should be graduating within the next year and a half. In addition to this, I'm finishing my bachelor's degree in psychology with the University of Phoenix which I'll be completing in 2014.

Tell me something about where you currently work.

I'm the co-director of Clay Montessori Academy. My mother, Dagma Doncher, is the director and founder of this school. Our school offers a program for kids from infancy to six years old. You can consider it a playschool kindergarten with an afternoon program where children are assisted with their homework and tutoring if necessary. My role there is basically office manager. I take care of the administrative work, accounting, enrolment, tuition, PR activities, etc.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests outside of your work? Give us a description of a regular day in your life.

I love cooking; I enjoy spending time with my family during special holidays, preparing special dishes and creating a festive buffet which we enjoy together with close friends. We have many pets; I am a true animal friend. I spend at least one hour with my dogs, ferrets and fish. And then, of course, working in a family business, we have more than the regular eight-hour a day jobs. The nice thing is that we can take some work home and finish it there.

You danced at Motiance and later with Dance Theater of St. Maarten; tell me a little about that.

I started dancing from the age of three. When I lived in Virginia, I took dance classes at the University. I did Classical, Jazz, and Afro Caribbean dance. Of course, I participated in the dance recitals, Annie, Mulan, Wizard of Oz and many more. We (the dancers) had to go four to five times a week, quite a strict regime, however, we lived for dancing; and what is surprising to many is that I still take classes off and on. I have passed on my love for dance to my sisters Dejah and Jadeh. I'm now enjoying Latin dances, I'm planning to take salsa classes and join the salseros on the dance floor soon.

What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I hope to have completed both my studies, and I would like to have added to my portfolio a master's degree in psychology by then. In addition to that, I would like to have a family of my own; and if I get what I dream for, I would like to have three children (not by then) and if I really get my wish, one of them would be adopted. And then businesswise, I hope to bring the school to the next level, possibly having a full program for pre-school, kindergarten, followed with primary school. And who knows? Maybe 10 years from then, also add a secondary program.

Do you have any days off from work? If so, what do you do on those days?

Yes, of course, I'm lucky to have the weekends off. I primarily relax and enjoy time with the family. I like to rent movies and just watch them with my sisters and mother. Again, we like good food, so we often whip up something nice to eat and have a "dinner with a movie" night. In the weekends, I also take time to be with my friends. We go out for dinner occasionally and at times follow with dancing.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be, what would be the one question you would ask and what would you serve them to eat?

My life evolves a lot around my family, I really don't need to meet any famous people, however, I'd like to enjoy this dinner with my mom, my aunt Elsa and my best friend Gahnieka Griffin. I don't really have anything in particular to ask, I would just really enjoy the moment. I would serve them my famous chicken and shrimp fajitas with homemade sangria.