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From The Lion King to The White Pony

If you’re someone who watches the credits at the end of movies and you happened to be watching The Lion King (or Pocahontas or James and the Giant Peach), you might be surprised to see a familiar name: Brian Chavanne. One of our Room 1 preschool teachers, Brian did voice casting for these and many other Disney movies before coming to work at our school.

Brian began his career as a preschool teacher. He earned his Montessori certification at 22, worked in a preschool in Concord for two years, then moved to New York to pursue a career in theater. There he helped cast three Broadway plays, including the Tony Award–winning Tommy. And then it was on to Hollywood, where he became a casting executive for Disney Television.

Hoping to find a simpler life, he took a job in a casting office in Falls Church, Virginia, “where the most stressful situation was finding a spokesperson for a short CIA film.”

Weary of the entertainment business, it was time for a change. He met Ellen Evans, our former principal, through a mutual friend. Learning of his Montessori background, she suggested he come to work in our preschool – and he did, in 2014, bringing his career full-circle. “It took me some 42 years to put my preschool training to use at the White Pony,” he says.

“The transition from working on animated films for children at Disney to actually working with small children is a happy circumstance. I love working with children. I get a lot of joy out of it.”

Another source of joy for Brian is planting and tending the flower-and-vegetable garden behind Rooms 3 and 4, something he does on weekends. During the week, the children help by watering the plants. The garden, he says, “provides lots of opportunities for children to get in touch with nature when they see things grow – and that sometimes end up in their stomach.”


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