Graded believes that a strong after-school athletics program can help prepare students for success in life. Graded sports teams stress hard work, cooperation, sportsmanship, leadership, and fair play. Over the past few years, the Athletics Program has developed and expanded, which has brought the community together like never before. The opening of the new athletics facilities has enabled us to strengthen existing teams and programs and offer countless new opportunities for students across all three divisions. Over the past three years, the number of students participating in after-school athletics has more than doubled. This growth can be attributed to the addition of new sports opportunities such as tennis, swimming, flag football, and badminton, as well as year-round sports.
The new facilities have also attracted a number of sports camps. Recently, Tiro Sports NCAA College ID Soccer Camp brought coaches from Yale, Wesleyan, and Colgate to the Graded campus. Their visit gave students a taste of college-level athletics, and the technical and tactical training it entails. Look for similar camps in the 2020-21 school year for sports such as volleyball, basketball, and swimming.
A year ago, Graded joined the South American Activities Conference (SAAC). Participating in this international conference has placed our school on par with the world's most elite international schools, much in the way that our arts students partake globally in The Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS). By competing in SAAC, Graded has also been able to expand its sports opportunities and compete internationally, not just in soccer, basketball, and volleyball, but also in swimming, track and field, cross country, and coming next month, tennis. Graded has already hosted two SAAC tournaments and will once again open our campus next month, when more than 200 athletes join us for the SAAC JV and Varsity Basketball and Tennis Tournaments. Graded will also host the SAAC Fine Arts Festival in 2020-21, showcasing our vibrant arts scene.
In addition to our international tournaments, we continue to strengthen our in-country tournament experiences. One exciting change is the next school year's restructuring of the Association of American Schools in Brazil (AASB) tournament formats. For many years, the 14-member AASB Conference has been divided and fragmented, resulting in multiple tournaments throughout the school year. Starting next year, the top two teams from the AASB Big 8 Tournament held at Nosso Recanto (NR) will compete in a Final Four Brazilian National Championship against the top two teams from the AASB International Schools Sports League (ISSL). Due to our state-of-the-art facilities and leadership in the region, Graded has been chosen to host these national championship tournaments for soccer, volleyball, futsal, and basketball through 2022.
|AASB BIG 8||AASB ISSL|
The combination of our São Paulo city leagues, NR tournaments, home-hosted events, and international competitions has set Graded apart as one of the strongest athletics programs in the region. As we approach our centennial, Graded continues to strive for excellence in athletics, as well as all aspects of the student experience.
1. Among other degrees, you hold a Doctorate in Education (EdD) and have worked in different school roles, such as assistant principal in Cairo and director of curriculum and staff development in Seoul. How do all of these experiences help you as the Lower School librarian at Graded?
For many years and through different roles, I've enjoyed collaborating with teachers and working across multiple grades. I like looking at the big picture and how all the pieces of the puzzle go together. These are key parts of a successful library program as well. Literacy leadership has also been a primary focus of my work in both my master's and doctoral degrees, and it drives my work as a librarian.
2. What adventurous pastimes have you engaged in at different points in your life?
I spent much of my 20s and 30s looking for the next big thrill – skydiving, ballooning, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, rock climbing, rappelling, sailing, scuba diving, and wilderness backpacking. I've toned things down a bit, but I still love to travel.
3. What book that you have read in the past five years has made a big impact on you?
Too many to count, really. Many of the books I read leave a lasting impression. Two that come to mind are Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children's Learning by Peter H. Johnston.
In Half the Sky, the authors share numerous devastating stories about the oppression of women around the world, while also sharing information about organizations that are changing lives and empowering women and girls. It is the lasting message of hope from those who have suffered greatly that impacted me the most.
Choice Words is a short but thought-provoking book about the power our words have to shape the experiences of the children around us, often in ways we don't realize.
4. What do you do if you can't sleep at night?
I read! (And sometimes I listen to a recording of waves crashing.)
5. What's your favorite quote about libraries? And why do you like it?
I've always appreciated one from the 1800s that is every bit as true today as it was originally:
"He is wise who knows the source of knowledge – where it is written and where it is to be found." A.A. Hodge
We are now inundated with a quantity of information that Mr. Hodge couldn't have begun to imagine. It is even more important now that we learn how to discern quality information and how to locate good sources. This is perhaps the most important part of my work with students (and adults).
6. If you had the ability to compete in an Olympic sport, which would it be?
Can we make speed reading an Olympic sport?
7. Have you ever felt excluded? Explain the situation and how it made you feel.
I think there are times throughout our lives that we feel like we would have appreciated being included in something. We all experience FOMO (fear of missing out), and I think social media has made that even harder than when I was a kid.
I do remember a time in middle school when two people I considered good friends were having a sleepover without me. One of them made a point of talking in front of me about how much fun they were going to have and everything they were going to do. I felt jealous and hurt at the time, and we got into a big argument. We made up - it took a couple of years, to be honest – and more than 30 years later, she's one of my closest friends. I consider her to be family.
8. What is your favorite place to be when you're out and about in São Paulo?
I absolutely love taking long walks in Ibirapuera Park for the people-watching, museums, and various special events and performances, which I often discover by accident.
9. What fear are you trying to overcome?
I sometimes feel afraid of the unknown, especially what the future will bring. I think this is why I've deliberately put myself into what could be considered scary situations: to face my fears and push the edges of my comfort zone. This has included adventure sports, but also "leaping into the unknown" (like Scaredy Squirrel) with moves around the world. I think it's good to challenge our fears in safe ways. Sometimes our fears are well-founded and they help us make good choices. Sometimes they are barriers to living our fullest lives. I don't want a fear of the unknown to keep me from taking chances and experiencing the world.
10. What's your favorite thing about Graded?
I love the positive energy at Graded. I love that being happy is emphasized in our strategic initiatives, along with being successful and being involved. Achieving this balance in our lives is key!
Secratária Escolar Vera Gois and Diretora Oficial Silvia Siqueira
As an American school, Graded also provides an integrated Brazilian curriculum, which is comparable to that of top Brazilian schools. In addition to offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) and American Diplomas, Graded grants the Certificado de Conclusão do Ensino Médio (Brazilian High School Diploma).
The school is recognized by, and affiliated with, the Diretoria de Ensino Região Sul I and must, therefore, comply with Brazilian educational law. The Brazilian Accredited Program (BAP) serves as the liaison between Graded and the Brazilian government.
BAP is overseen by Diretora Oficial Silvia Siqueira, who is registered with the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC), and Secratária Escolar Vera Gois. Silvia, a former Graded faculty member, who has served as Diretora Oficial at leading Brazilian schools for 28 years, is a wealth of information on the Brazilian educational system.
The BAP Office is located right across Graded's Front Office. To learn more about BAP and how it may apply to your child(ren), please schedule an appointment with Silvia Siqueira (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Vera Gois (email@example.com).
Alumna Anne Marie Speyer '53 entered Graded at the height of World War II. She recalls a collaborative, convivial environment where she learned how to debate issues and challenge the status quo. After receiving a scholarship to study in the United States, Anne Marie served in the convent for 30 years, working in school administration and later for non-governmental organizations focused on education.
Your father was German and your mother was British, yet you are Brazilian. How does this story unfold?
I have to go back in history a little while. I was born in Bahia, so officially, I am a baiana. But yes, my father was German and my mother British. My father was in Salvador on contract for an American firm when he met my mother who had gone to Bahia for her grandparents' golden wedding anniversary. They got married in 1933. I was born in 1935, before the war.
Then, the war began in 1939, and things changed radically. Two years after the war started, the American firm closed, and my dad was laid off. He was a foreigner; therefore, he couldn't get any job in Bahia. Anything. We were at a loss, and unfortunately, he was also put on a blacklist because of his German origin. He was naturalized and became Brazilian (he had three Brazilian children by that time), but he still couldn't get a job. So in 1942, we decided to go South.
We packed up everything – even furniture, and the five of us traveled by ship to Rio, but he couldn't find a job there either. Then we went to Santos, and that would be our last stop. We took the train to come up to São Paulo. As we were arriving, my mother saw the Paulista fog and said, "Let's live here. It's lovely; it reminds me of London."
How did you end up at Graded?
We rented a house not that far from Graded, by coincidence. We were about three blocks away from Oscar Porto (the location of Graded's campus from 1938-1961). My father's good friend, who was the US Consul in São Paulo at the time, naturally recommended Graded, which was close by. My older brother and I went straight to Graded, as well as my younger brother who joined the kindergarten class.
At the time, Graded wasn't an accredited school in Brazil. So my brothers moved to Mackenzie Presbyterian School after 5th grade, but since I was a girl, I didn't have to go to a school that would give me a diploma needed for college. I could stay at Graded, and I was quite happy with that. So Graded was my home from first grade with Mrs. Sherman until [the period with] Mr. Troxel, the superintendent, and Mr. and Mrs. Rowlands, Mr. and Mrs. Whinery, and many other wonderful teachers I had during those times.
What do you remember most about being at Graded?
We had a kind of conviviality and respect among us, and a kind of "let's help each other do things because the world's in a mess." We used to get a leaflet that addressed all kinds of post-war world issues. I also remember the United Nations coming around after the war, which was brand new at the time. And we had a wonderful group in class. We were 17 when we graduated, and while many came and left, I remember we had six or seven different nationalities in our class. And all were refugees of some kind. We had [a classmate] from Poland; we had someone from the free state of Danzig, from Germany, from Italy, from Armenia, and China... we had everyone there.
Our teacher, I can't remember who exactly, but someone incentivized us to start debating these important issues. You couldn't say "I'm in favor" or "I'm against." That was forbidden. You had to argue why you were in favor, and you had to argue why you were in favor of the opposing view. It's quite a different kind of study. And at the time, the Biblioteca Mário de Andrade in Consolação had just been inaugurated. This teacher of ours, he knew exactly what kinds of books we had to get there. He taught us how to use file cards, put topics on them, and do research. He told us, "When you take notes, put one subject on each card. When they're all tidied up, then you can shuffle them and order them according to what your argument will be." He gave us a whole class on how to research in order to argue your point and ideas.
Were you good at debate?
So we had Robert Civita in our class. Do you remember him? Everyone in São Paulo must know him. He was my classmate. We also had Olga Krell in our class, and the two of them used to vie for first place. That was constant. Our most marvelous debater was Civita. He knew how to turn any issue in his favor. And since I used to stutter tremendously at that time but was good at research, I was frequently chosen as the researcher, not as a debater. I didn't do much debating, but I followed the thought and picked up the right items to defend points. And I think that learning how to debate issues changed my life completely.
How so? How did this debate experience impact you?
I received a scholarship to the University of Washington, and at that time, all the foreign students (and we were many) had to first take an English for Foreigners class. I didn't even spend a day there because they moved me to a class for Americans who spoke and wrote poorly in English. But I didn't stay much longer there, and I was sent to the freshman English class. From there, I could choose whatever classes I wanted. I attribute this not only to being fluent in English, but knowing how to discuss issues and how to put things in order logically, which I learned through debate at Graded.
What else did you learn at Graded?
I learned that you grow by cooperating rather than by competing. We learned that so well at Graded because we frequently helped each other with languages and used to do our homework on the blackboard together before classes. We would turn in our own homework, and no one would copy the other. We weren't competing with each other. Now in college, I found everyone was competing with each other to knock the other one down, and this disturbed me profoundly.
You spent 30 years in the convent as a nun but also as an educational administrator. Tell us how this happened.
During my second year of college, I joined a Newman Club where we debated philosophy and theology. It was a mixed group of boys, girls, and couples who had the desire to understand philosophy and theology, and that's where I felt my vocation. I decided I wanted to go out and change the competitive world into something more cooperative. I wanted to participate in that and I couldn't see myself doing it alone, so I had to find a group to do it with. I wanted to do something meaningful, and I thought that would be the place.
I spent 30 years in the convent in Brazil. I started out as a school principal in Niterói, which was not exactly what I imagined. I wanted to avoid structures; I wanted work. Therefore, I was very excited when I was asked to become the general secretary of Movimento de Educação de Base (MEB). This was a civil society organization set up by the National Bishops' Conference. It was founded in 1961 based on a radio-supported experience in adult education carried out in Rio Grande do Norte. But with the military regime, some of these local teams were being shut down. And so I worked on coordinating the administrative and educational aspect of it, walking a fine line between the excess political and excess religious. On one side you had the military government, while on the other side, the bishops wanted education to be Catholic. But if you want real education it has to be education for all... You can be Catholic, Jewish, or Protestant... Education is not a resistance group. Education helps you to learn more so you can do more. I was on the job for ten years, and by that time, we had already almost doubled the local teams in some Northeastern states and on the Solimões River in the Amazon.
What drove your decision to change careers?
My father had a heart attack. I got to spend a few days with him, but he passed away. My mother also received a call from England telling her that her mother had passed away. Same day, same time. And my mother's sister had passed away a few months before. I felt that my severely bereaved mother needed support. I asked for a leave of absence, but they wouldn't concede, so I signed out. I have no regrets; I didn't do it in a rage. I learned to do this with discernment. Getting away from everything, you sit down for a few days, and think about your decision and go on to see all the variables, positive and negative. I spent eight days at a retreat center thinking about this, but in the end, I decided I had to leave. I didn't regret going [to the convent] and I didn't regret leaving it. After I left the convent, I continued working on my mission – non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focused on education.
Anne Marie visits the "new" Graded campus at Av. José Galante in February 2019.
I am pleased to share with you a series of interviews we conducted with members of the class of 2019. We spoke to seven Graded students at the end of their senior year, prior to their departure for university. Our goal was to capture their essence and learn from them, as they reflected upon their Graded experience.
We have their standardized test scores recorded and grades calculated. But how do we reveal a student's true substance, as they prepare to embark upon a new chapter of their lives? Clearly, our students, like their counterparts around the world, are more than just a number or two.
As you listen to these students, you will gain an understanding of the powerful nature of the Graded experience. Some of our interviewees are "lifers." Others attended the school for just a few years. Yet, they share this impactful journey, which is Graded. This school has provided them with freedom, structure, license to fail, and space to succeed. It has nurtured their passions, producing accomplished athletes, actors, mathematicians, writers, musicians, and humanitarians. These students demonstrate the ability to reflect deeply and an understanding of the profound role Graded has played in shaping who they are and who they hope to become.
Our interviewees strongly exemplify the "Science of Learning" principles we espouse at Graded. They have learned to distill and synthesize information, think critically and creatively, and express themselves clearly. They will carry these deep-rooted skills with them well beyond high school graduation.
Deep, enduring, and transferable learning is the true measure of a student's PK-12 academic experience and success. At Graded, we are committed to ensuring every student has the character and skills to learn how to learn, reason, and empathize.
Happy holidays and enjoy this short film!
1. You have a master's degree from the University of São Paulo in Brazilian literature. What influences in your life led to your interest in literature?
My father was an avid reader and he was my greatest influence. The Russian writers, for example, were some of his major passions in literature, especially Tolstoy. Graciliano Ramos was probably one of his favorites in Brazilian literature. He is one of mine, too.
2. As a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
I wanted to be a musician, professional runner, and journalist, among other things. Teaching became my dream job when I was around 18, after I took two semesters of electrical engineering and realized it was not really my field. I took the Vestibular again, this time for Portuguese/English language and literature.
3. You dabble in music in your free time. Do you play any instruments?
I mostly listen to music whenever I can, but I also occasionally play the drums and other percussion instruments with friends and do some DJing.
4. What was the hardest era of your life?
The hardest period was when my youngest brother passed away in 2002.
5. What is one book by a Brazilian author that best embodies what it means to be Brazilian?
Memórias póstumas de Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis is certainly one of them because it encapsulates so many characteristics of our country, for the good and for the bad. Also it is a true masterpiece in terms of narrative building: its narrator, for instance, is a dead man!
6. Where is your favorite spot in São Paulo for weekend fun?
I enjoy the Barra Funda/Santa Cecília area right now because it is a neighborhood with nice bars, restaurants, and clubs and not as crowded and/or expensive as other spots around the city.
7. What dream has come true for you?
One of them, for sure, was visiting London for the first time in 2010. It has always been a city with a lot of connections to my life: music, literature, history, soccer, among others. Being there was finally seeing for myself what I had only learned from books, TV, and radio, so it was really a dream come true.
8. What's your favorite expression and when did you last use it?
One of my favorites is "Tô ligado..." and I especially like to use it with my students. At first they laugh and don't believe their Portuguese teacher allows himself to be that informal. That is always a good starting point for discussing the appropriate use of formal and informal language.
9. Who is your best friend and in one sentence, how would you describe this person?
A great friend of mine is Breno Deffanti, a Portuguese teacher in the High School. He is not only someone really fun to be around, but also someone I know I can count on in good and not-so-good times.
10. You coordinate the Vivas Palavras Contest at Graded. Tell us more about it!
Vivas Palavras is our annual Portuguese literary contest that has been going on for the last 15 years. Eloisa Galesso and Mario Spanghero were the teachers who first came up with the idea. I have been coordinating the project for the last 11 years. All students taking Portuguese and more advanced levels of Portuguese as an Additional Language in grades 4-12 participate. Students write poems and short stories, and the best pieces are published in a special Vivas Palavras book released in April or May. Our students come up with impressive work, demonstrating exceptional creativity and mastery of the Portuguese language. The Vivas Palavras books are available in the library.
11. You've been teaching at Graded for 20 years. What's your favorite thing about Graded?
Collegiality. It is great to know you have colleagues who are willing to give their best in order to enhance our programs with collaborative projects and activities.
As vice president of marketing at Duolingo, the world's leading language-learning app, Gina Gotthilf '04 led the company's growth from 3 million to 300 million users. Gina currently lives in New York City where she owns a consulting company that helps develop up-and-coming tech startups with a social mission. This month, she talks to the Graded Gazette about her years as an ambitious Graded student, her love of languages, and presenting to Barack Obama at the White House.
Why did your family choose to send you to Graded?
They thought it was the best school around and that having the best education and the ability to speak English would be hugely impactful on my life. There's just no way you can speak English this fluently by taking English classes while attending a Brazilian school. That skill alone has enabled my entire career and life abroad, but it would also have ensured great opportunities had I stayed in Brazil.
What unique opportunities did Graded provide?
In a Brazilian school, I wouldn't have had classmates from different regions, like Israel, Latin America, and the United States. That exposure to different cultures really gave me "jogo de cintura" as we say in Portuguese, or the ability to navigate situations around the world and easily connect with people from diverse backgrounds. I also had access to art and theater, which other local schools seemed to have less of. I loved acting and directing plays while studying scripts in IB theater.
What were some of your extracurricular activities at Graded?
I was in many school plays and I played JV and varsity basketball. I was also involved in FALA (Friendship and Language Acquisition), a program run by Graded students with the goal of teaching English to low-income members of the community. It was very rewarding to help others who would never have had the opportunities that I did. That's kind of what led me to Duolingo: teaching English can really change people's lives, and I wanted to do that at scale.
Which of your Graded teachers made learning fun or had the most influence on you?
I still keep in touch with my 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Burnquist! I also fondly remember my middle school theater teacher, Mr. Mennick. In high school, I loved reading Waiting for Godot with Professor Santana in IB Portuguese, a deeply existentialist play that resonated with me as I went through a tough time in my life. I also really enjoyed Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and ended up studying philosophy in college.
Why did you decide to go to Reed? Why did you drop out?
Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is all about the power of learning for the sake of being well-educated as the backbone to the rest of your life, rather than preparing for a specific career. I also thought of myself as rebellious and everything about that school spoke to me, so I was thrilled to receive a scholarship. I was also attracted to the prospect of living in a completely different, faraway place.
However, it turns out I wasn't that eccentric, the school wasn't a good fit, and I actually fell into a very deep depression.
I dropped out, moved back to São Paulo, and spent some time trying to figure out what to do next. I found some programs I liked at the University of Toronto and Brandeis. My dad really wanted me to go to Brandeis, and since I'd messed up on my first choice and he was financing my education, I decided to take his advice.
Were you happy at Brandeis?
Yeah, I was happy, but it wasn't "the best time of my life" as the movies portray. Thankfully, things have only gotten better since then.
After a rather circuitous career path, you wound up at Duolingo and helped launch the app in more than 12 countries. How did your background as a communicator and writer contribute to your success there?
The first half of my time there was focused on getting Duolingo discovered, but there was no budget. I went around the world launching Duolingo's PR, forging partnerships, getting speaking opportunities, localizing the app experience, and building brand awareness. Communication skills, not philosophical knowledge, is what allowed me to do that!
Also, I managed a cross-functional team of engineers, designers, and product managers. Getting people with very different personalities and communication styles to talk to each other effectively was pivotal to our success.
What languages do you speak and how does language help you connect with others?
At Graded, I studied French with "Madame." I also speak Portuguese and English, of course, as well as Spanish and Mandarin(ish).
During business trips abroad for Duolingo, I always learned key phrases in advance, which helped me develop friendships and business trust wherever I went. That helped open lots of doors for me. I also had to develop partnerships with ministries of education in Latin American countries, and even gave a live CNN Español interview, so I'm thankful for those language skills.
What was your proudest professional moment?
My proudest professional moment was meeting Barack Obama during the first White House Demo Day.
Duolingo was one of about 30 small startups invited and among five startups selected to present privately to him. He talked about how he struggled learning Spanish. Those five minutes of conversation were literally unbelievable, and my main thought was "act normal."
I remember thinking that day, "I've peaked, it's time to retire. Nothing will beat this." But alas, meeting a president does not pay the bills so retirement is still in my future.
How do you support young women in the workplace?
I'm a mentor for a couple different programs and prioritize women who reach out for advice, since there are a lot more male mentors out there. I've also made sure that women around me get promoted or get raises whenever I've had the chance, but I always think there's more I could do. My hope is to be able to lead by example: take risks, ask or you don't get, don't wait to be noticed, fake it till you make it.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to Graded students?
Many high school students are probably feeling quite anxious about their future careers. I'd tell them that I would have never been able to plan the career I've had – I only focused on each next step, and that's worked out well so far. I'd also tell them to be practical: try to focus on what you're naturally good at and love, but also think about what skills are currently (and will likely continue to be) in high demand. When I was in high school, I felt like I had to know what I wanted "to be" for the rest of my life. Facebook didn't even exist yet and my first job out of college was as a social media manager for luxury brands, which shows that you really can't plan for everything.
The house lights dimmed, crimson curtains parted, and a Christmas tree appeared as Merlin the Magician and Morgan the Enchantress, along with their carolers, seized the stage. Students danced and sang in unison under the high auditorium ceilings, the floor beneath them buzzing with energy. The audience, speechless and impressed. The show was on.
In late-November, 54 Lower School students performed in this year's musical production of Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens Jr. adapted from Mary Pope Osborne's eponymous book series. Led by Student Director Rosanne V. (grade 12) and Musical Director Grace K. (grade 10), this year's Lower School Musical starred third, fourth, and fifth graders.
In this poignant tale, main characters Jack and Annie traveled back in time to Victorian England on a mission to help Mr. Charles Dickens write again. During their journey, the characters witnessed the hardships faced by many, and in the process, built a friendship with Mr. Dickens, inspiring him to continue crafting literary classics.
Students received a standing ovation from audience members for an outstanding performance. Viewers were flabbergasted by the young performers' strong musical and acting abilities.
Fifth-grader Elliot B., who played the character Jack, recalled the opening show. "When you first walk on stage you think, 'Oh my, this is really happening and there are a lot of people here.'" But the second he spoke his first line, Elliot's worries instantly disappeared and his words flowed effortlessly. "You feel fine. You don't feel nervous anymore."
Aditya B., also a fifth-grader and performing in his third musical, played the role of Mr. Pinch, one of the play's leading antagonists. While it wasn't very easy being "very mean," he practiced tooth and nail. "It's hard to practice over and over and be told to change things, but I try to think of it as a new opportunity to learn instead of thinking [of the feedback] as an insult," said Aditya. "I try to think of it as a different point of view."
The musical also provided students with a deeper knowledge of history. "We first spent a lot of time explaining the play, helping our kids understand the historical context, and discussing issues such as the socioeconomic inequality," said Rosanne.
Younger students also developed an exceptional sense of teamwork. "They start to see that even if they only have a small role, their small role will become very important at a certain moment," affirmed Middle School Mathematics Teacher and Production Manager Christopher Kelly. "So they start to take on and meet that responsibility. I have students who have already done this for two or three years now, and because they already understand this coming in, they act as role models for others."
High school student leaders have also grown through their involvement, demonstrating great responsibility and independence. "I am so passionate about theater, and it's so motivating to see the kids excited even when they are tired," beamed Rosanne. "It's not easy to keep them calm, but it's been really fun understanding their points of view and working on the creative vision."
According to Christopher, theater is a place where many different students find their niche. "Some kids love to be the center of attention. Some kids like to escape into the different characters. And some kids love the teamwork and friendships."
Elliot, who has now participated in three musicals, expressed his desire to become an actor in the future. Through his theater experiences at Graded, he has learned to "be loud, be open, and have fun."
"It's a great opportunity for you to show the world who you are!" exclaimed Aditya, his eyes gleaming with excitement.
This year's musical was led by students Rosanne V., Grace K., and Michael S., faculty members Christopher Kelly, Stephen Cook, David Griswold, Jessie Stoll, Eileen Murphy, Shannon Keane, Tim Cabrera, Sylvia Yamada, and staff members Aleandro Oliveira and Victor Guedes.
The Graded community would like to recognize Claudia Issa Gama de Medeiros, mother of Luiza (grade 12) and Stella (grade 10), for designing a brand new logo for Graded Athletics. With more than 30 years of graphic design experience, Claudia drew inspiration from American college sports logos to produce a modern version of the Graded Eagle, aligned with the school's visual identity. Students have shown great pride in sporting the Eagle to represent Graded in local and international competitions.
Thank you, Claudia, for your gift to our school. Your generosity and kindness are greatly appreciated.
In April 2019, Graded invited some of the world's best educational thought partners to brainstorm and ideate with teachers, students, administrators, and Board members in a two-day workshop. We designed this deep dive into learning to leverage the knowledge, expertise, and experience of participating organizations and individuals.
The documentary showcased in this month's Gazette serves as a historical account of our two-day endeavor, as well as a guide for the work ahead of us. As you will see, the video concludes with a series of questions posed by our thought partners.
Since April, the Leadership Team, Board, and faculty have been deeply engaged in designing our next steps. We have made the decision, as I wrote in the June Gazette, to focus our attention on the science of learning, on belonging, and, most importantly, on the intersection of the two.
Think Tank Participant and Columbia University Professor Kevin Mattingly has been back to campus three times since July to train faculty and Leadership Team members on cognitive science learning strategies. Together, we are developing observation tools to assess student understanding of these techniques and their application within the classroom. Dr. Mattingly asserts that the work Graded is undertaking in this area is groundbreaking for international schools. This practice is, indeed, fundamental to ensuring our students are ready for the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world in which they will be required to live and lead.
Due to peer interest, over the next several months, I will be presenting our work to educators from around the globe. In November, I will speak in Dubai at the Global Recruitment Collaborative Leadership Huddle and in February, in New York at the Association for Advancement in International Education Annual Conference on the topic of "Change Leadership: Making it Stick." My presentations will address how Graded is systematically implementing cognitive science practices in Pre-primary through grade 12.
Additionally, Stanford d. School Learning Experience Designer Ariel Raz. Director of Analytics, Innovation and Research, Shauna Hobbs-Beckley and I will be presenting at the March Deeper Learning Conference in San Diego on the intersection of Design Thinking and the Science of Learning: The Experience at Graded - The American School of São Paulo.
Ensuring that students have a toolkit of skills and strategies to address any problem will undoubtedly provide them with the ability to make meaning of our world and affect change. In accordance with our strategic focus to inculcate our faculty in the application of cognitive science, we have created four new positions to begin in July 2020. Deeper Learning Coaches will be deployed, under the direction of the Teaching and Learning Department, to partner and guide our faculty in the use of cognitive science principles.
Over the coming months, we will be holding additional parent presentations to keep you informed of our progress. We will also invite Dr. Mattingly to speak with our parent community to share more about the science of learning efforts around the world in K-12 schools and universities.
For now... enjoy our Think Tank documentary. I hope it inspires you the same way it has inspired our faculty, as we continue to improve our practice everyday.