Joel Dondis

EDS Class of 1980, Founder of Sucre' Sweet Boutiques and Confection Studio in New Orleans, LA

What impact did EDS have on you? I've had a lot of time to reflect on my years at EDS and I consistently find myself saying to other people that EDS is the one place that allowed me to truly be myself. People always ask how I got into cooking and I feel that EDS played a huge role in fostering that love. I started cooking around age ten. I made crepes for the school fair and I even got to do my 6th grade science project on the chemical reactions that occur during the making of a soufflé! I’m pretty sure I took home the grand prize that year at the science fair. As you can see, at EDS I was in a very nurturing environment that allowed me to explore my interests at a very young age. I've told my wife Gretchen many times that I owe so much to EDS.

Did EDS create a love of learning in you? I absolutely believe that you are formed by your environment and EDS’s environment is one of curiosity. EDS’s gregarious support of the curious learner helps to shape the students into confident individuals. Without this support, many children end up scared and will only follow a regimented path in the future.

What passions did you find at EDS? While at EDS, I was obviously passionate about cooking and also about being curious, as I mentioned above. When people are allowed to be curious, it instills confidence in them. As a business owner, that curiosity is something that I now look for in everyone I hire. Curious people are changing the landscape and paving new paths.

Describe the faculty at EDS. The faculty at EDS is very nurturing. They take the time to get to know each student individually and tailor learning to their needs and passions. Many of my teachers, including Boo Kay and Mrs. Carol Gani Goings, went above and beyond for me during my time at EDS.

Did you have a favorite teacher? It’s a toss-up between Boo Kay and Mrs. Carol Gani Goings. They were very different, but I loved both of their classrooms. I couldn't wait to go to school every day.

Was there a time that a teacher went above and beyond for you? Mrs. Carol Gani Goings helped me with my 6th grade soufflé science project. She would walk me across the street and let me use the school kitchen whenever I needed to work on my project. At that time the oven and soufflé were taller than I was!

Describe the EDS community. The EDS community is incredibly thoughtful and they have a great respect for others. The faculty teaches for each individual student and they strive to understand the best way to reach each individual child.

What did you like about your fellow students? We were really young but I remember just having a great time together! Did you stay in touch with EDS friends? I can’t say I keep in touch with many classmates. We left when we were so young and went to our respective high schools.

Did EDS help you find the right college for you? Absolutely! They nurtured, appreciated, and understood my love for cooking. I credit them for giving me the confidence to apply to The Culinary Institute of America in New York City. Even though I was four years removed from EDS by the time it came to apply for college, I had already had educators encouraging me to follow and pursue my passions.

How prepared for college and life were you? I’ll be honest. After I left EDS, my curiosity wasn't nurtured anymore and I became disengaged. Because I was disengaged, I didn't pay attention in high school, and I paid for that later. Now that I own my own business I can see where my weaknesses are and I so wish that I had had the opportunity for an education like EDS in my more senior years. I firmly believe that my areas of weakness would be much less pronounced if I had been in an environment like EDS during high school.

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