In the fall of 2010, a group of motivated parents launched the project of opening a French-American Charter School in the North Bay. A first meeting was held in November 2010 and it was immediately apparent that there was significant support for a dual-immersion French-American school with a global perspective.
On December 14, 2011, the Santa Rosa City School Board unanimously approved the petition for the French-American Charter School. Everyone in support of the project had reason to rejoice.
Brian Benefield, founder, was raised in Santa Rosa and is a product of public schools. He is co-director of the French immersion preschool, Ma Petite École, and as such, sees the direct benefits of bilingualism on a daily basis. Through Mr. Benefield’s career with international corporations and local start-ups, he brings experience in project planning and coalition building to SRFACS. His drive is for children in the community to experience a rich public school education with a global perspective.
Emmanuelle Benefield, founder, is an ambassador of French education for young children and is a fervent believer and benefactor of early language learning. She has been teaching for fourteen years, and in 2006, opened Ma Petite École, a French preschool that conforms to the curricula defined by the French Ministry of Education. Her program is renowned for its outstanding educational standards. Mrs. Benefield is dedicated to providing SRFACS with challenging educational resources and philosophy. She brings to SRFACS her knowledge of the French education system and provides a link with the French Consulate and bonds with other French-American schools in the bay area and beyond.
Nas Salamati, founder, is an electrical engineer with an MBA focused on operations and finance. He has over 20 years of engineering experience in the fields of aerospace, telecommunications, and medical devices. His experience ranges from designing products from concept to production and collaborating with teams and government agencies in the U.S. and Europe on engineering design and regulations. Mr. Salamati sees the action oriented operation, understanding science and applying technology as the core of advancement in any field. He brings to SRFACS his expertise in operations.
Jennifer Schwinn, founder, is a public school educator, currently serving as superintendent-principal for a small school district in West Sonoma County. She is a parent of school-age children; a resident of Santa Rosa; and local family advocate. Ms. Schwinn’s own passion for studying the French language and culture began in childhood and continued until she attended the Université de Poitiers in France and earned a degree in French and English Literature. She brings to SRFACS a combined understanding of the California public school system and her own experience as a second language learner in the French school system. Ms. Schwinn imagines that as a child, she would have ridden her bike across town every morning to attend such a school as SRFACS, and she is delighted and dedicated to helping make this special educational opportunity available to all local public school children.
Najine Shariat, RDN, founder, is a clinical dietitian/nutritionist with over 20 years as a health educator. Understanding the complex nature of healthcare and nutrition, Mrs. Shariat has lead different organizations to advocate for change. Approaching education's intricate nature with a systematic approach, she believes that we need to create an environment where learning is sought after. She brings to SRFACS the vision and energy to build a unique education culture in academics, and a heritage of eating that feeds and connects body and mind.