Faculty in Focus: Alicia Mota, Middle School Humanities Teacher
Posted 04/24/2020 09:30AM

1. In college, you majored in communication and psychology. Tell us about your journey to the classroom at Graded. 
As an undergraduate, I didn't quite know what I wanted to be when I "grew up." However, I knew that I wanted to take classes that were intriguing, challenging, and inspiring. I've always loved reading, research, sharing ideas, and collaborating with my colleagues. My love of learning eventually led me to graduate school where I studied literacy with an emphasis on children's literature. I spent several years teaching middle school in Chicago and Denver before arriving at Graded. Teaching internationally occurred to me after spending several summer vacations backpacking through Central America, South America, and Europe. The idea of moving away from everything I'd always known was daunting but the adventure that I was longing for. I moved here in 2014 and have been fortunate enough to build a career, life, and family in São Paulo. 

2. What inspires you? 
My students inspire me on a daily basis. The best moments occur when they become engaged with their own learning, not because they want to earn high marks, but because they have stumbled upon something that genuinely interests them. 

3. When you visit the US, what one item do you make sure to stock up on to bring back to Brazil?
There are several: French vanilla coffee creamer, ranch dressing, Kind Bars... The list could go on and on!

4. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, living or dead, real or fictional, famous or not, who would it be?
Depending on the day, my answer to this question could change. But today, I would choose to trade places with a travel journalist – someone like Samantha Brown or Philip Rosenthal. I'd spend the week traveling to a remote locale, exploring the sights, meeting new people, and eating delicious food.


5. What do you do in your free time? 
Being a new mom, I don't have much "free time" these days. With so many responsibilities at work and at home, I make it a point to carve out time for hot yoga at least twice a week. I usually try to read something unrelated to school, and currently, I'm reading Black Wave by Kim Ghattas, a complex account that weaves together the history, geopolitics, and conflict in the Middle East after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

6. If you were asked to unload a school bus full of jelly beans, what would you do?
I'd display the bus for all to see and advertise a competition, asking the community guess "How many jellybeans are in the bus?" Students, parents, and faculty/staff would calculate their estimates, and the person with the closest number, without going over, would win a lifetime supply of jelly beans!

7. What was your favorite book when you were in middle school?
I loved The Baby-Sitter's Club series by Ann M. Martin. Each novel is a first-person narrative and deals with real issues that I could relate to. I also enjoyed reading The Giver because it was totally different from any other book I had read up until that point. It was dark and suspenseful, and there were so many deeper layers. Luckily, I get to reread this book each year because it's part of our grade 7 curriculum. 

8. If you could be a superhero, what power would you possess?
I would choose the magical power of "apparition," as shown in the Harry Potter series. It's the ability to travel from one place to another in an instant. Bouncing back and forth between my home here and my home in the US would be super cool. 

9. What's your favorite thing about Graded?
The people. Hands down. 


Av. José Galante, 425
São Paulo, SP - Brazil - 05642-000
T: 55-11-3747-4800
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