Lower School News 

The Graded Gazette - Posted 06/08/2020 11:00AM

DAVID ALLEN, UPPER SCHOOL MUSIC TEACHER
David is currently in his fifth year as the Middle School Band Director at Concordia International School Shanghai. Previously, he lived in West Palm Beach, Florida where he also taught band. His concert and jazz bands have earned consistent superior ratings at annual district music performance assessment festivals. In addition, his bands have won Disney Festival Awards in 2014 and 2015. David holds a BA in music education from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MA in education administration from National-Louis University. Outside of school, David can be found at the gym, reading and studying cultural and social anthropology, exploring new restaurants, struggling with Portuguese, or traveling with good friends. Having spent much time in the US and Asia, he is now looking forward to exploring South America. David already considers Graded his forever school!

 

ALASTAIR BOYD, HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHER
Alastair is a new arrival to Brazil, having started at Graded at the beginning of the semester. Prior to moving to São Paulo, he lived in Melbourne, Australia, where he worked as a science teacher at Northcote High School. In this role, he was also given the opportunity to lead school trips through Cambodia and Central Australia. Before becoming a teacher, Alastair was a scientist, studying homing behavior in honey bees. After spending ten long years at university, he earned a BS in Nanotechnology, a Graduate Diploma in education, and a PhD in biophysics and microscopy from the University of Western Australia. An avid traveler, Alastair has been on a variety of adventures, including a hiking trip up to Everest Base Camp and a journey through the Trans-Siberian Railway. He is excited to explore Brazil and other Latin American countries. Alastair enjoys playing board games and video games, trying out new foods, and hanging out with his cat Grimes.

 

JANELLE DAY, MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHER
Janelle is currently working as the head of the Science Department at the American International School of Kuwait. She has been there for five years, both as a middle school science teacher and DP biology teacher. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she spent most of her childhood in between the city and the snowy mountains until she moved to Nova Scotia to attend St. Francis Xavier University. There, she graduated with a BS in human kinetics and a BA in education with teachable concentrations in science, physical education, and French. She is now pursuing an MEd to continue her professional development as an educator. When she is not teaching, Janelle can be found playing football, scuba diving, exploring nature, or hopping on a flight to a nearby country. Having never stepped foot in South America, she is looking forward to exploring a new part of the world.

 

JON EXALL, MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHER
It is with great excitement that Jon joins the Graded community. Currently in his twentieth year as a middle school educator, Jon began his career as an environmental educator in Sonora, California before moving to Denver, Colorado, where he taught science, literacy, and humanities. Jon currently teaches middle school science at the American International School Dhaka and exercises his passion for integrated learning opportunities as the middle school service learning program coordinator. Jon holds a BA from the University of Vermont and an MA in education, curriculum, and instruction from Concordia University. When not creating student-engaged learning experiences, Jon and his wife Lori can be found on adventures in nature. Jon loves rock climbing, cycling, running, skiing, and many other outdoor activities, and is greatly looking forward to all the possibilities offered in South America.

 

KEVIN HEALEY, HIGH SCHOOL IB PHYSICS TEACHER
Currently completing his fifth year teaching physics at American International School · Vienna, Kevin has also taught in England, Belgium, and Canada. He earned an MA  in theoretical physics from the University of Durham and maintains teaching qualifications in Ontario, Canada, and the UK. Kevin is an enthusiastic supporter of service learning and a long-term robotics coach. When he is not in the lab, Kevin enjoys music, cooking, running, and following Manchester United (well, sometimes). He is excited to experience a new language and culture, to visit South America, and to cross the equator for the first time.

 

LYNDSAY HEALEY, LOWER SCHOOL GRADE 4 TEACHER
Lyndsay is currently a fourth-grade teacher at the American International School · Vienna, where, despite her dislike for skiing, she has enjoyed the last five years of her career. Prior to working in Austria, she has worked at the International School of Brussels and held various lecturing positions at colleges around the Toronto area. Lyndsay completed her BA and MA in English literature at McMaster University and then obtained her BEd from the University of Toronto. She is very interested in the alignment between social justice and education, and has high hopes of completing a doctorate on this topic. In her free time, Lyndsay is either spinning, reading, despairing about the Blue Jays, or herding her pack of cats.

 

LORI LALIBERTE, LOWER SCHOOL GRADE 1 TEACHER
Lori began teaching abroad four years ago in Bangladesh at the American International School in Dhaka. Prior to moving overseas, Lori taught for sixteen years at a diverse public school in Denver, Colorado. She holds a BA from Assumption College and an MA in curriculum and instruction from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Lori has spent most of her career teaching kindergarten and first grade. Her last two years have been dedicated to supporting English language learners in the primary grades. She has a talent for creating an intentional classroom environment in which students thrive as self-directed learners. Lori has a passion for helping young learners build strong social-emotional and academic foundations, empowering them to create high-quality work, and address real-world issues. Outside of the classroom, Lori enjoys exploring the natural world with her husband Jon. Although they love the hum of a colorful and vibrant city, they are happiest in the forest, on a mountain, or by the sea. Lori is looking forward to joining the Graded community and exploring Brazil... and beyond!

 

SALLY ANN MERRIMAN, LOWER SCHOOL GRADE 3 TEACHER
Sally is currently a third-grade teacher at Korea International School, where she has worked for four years. Previously, she lived in Memphis, Tennessee teaching at an elementary school in the Shelby County Schools District. Sally holds a BS from Crichton College and has been teaching for more than 17 years. Outside of school, she can be found looking for sporting events, races to run, and parks to visit with her dog. She is excited to learn the Portuguese language and explore all that Brazil has to offer!

 

CLAIRE MORRIS, MIDDLE SCHOOL HUMANITIES TEACHER
Claire is currently a high school IB Language and Literature teacher at the American International School-Riyadh. She has worked there for ten years, teaching both high school theater and English. Previously, she worked in Dubai, United Arab Emirates teaching both high school and middle school English, and before that in South Africa (Claire is a proud South African). She holds a BA from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and a Postgraduate Certificate in education. Outside of school, Claire can be found running, racing with the Riyadh Road Runners, baking, reading, watching live theater productions, or hanging out at the pool or beach with her family. Having spent much time in the desert of the Middle East, Claire and her husband Justin, along with their children Nathan (11) and Mikalya (8), are now looking forward to exploring and experiencing new adventures in South America!

 

JUSTIN MORRIS, IB COORDINATOR AND HIGH SCHOOL ECONOMICS TEACHER
Having spent the past 13 years in the Middle East (three years in Dubai, UAE and ten years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Justin is very excited to start a new adventure at Graded. He is currently a DP economics teacher at the American International School-Riyadh, where his wife Claire teaches DP English. Prior to this, he taught at Dubai American Academy in the UAE and at Maritzburg College, a boys-only high school in South Africa. Justin holds a BA in commerce and a Postgraduate Certificate in education from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Outside of school, you will find him cheering for the South African cricket and rugby teams along with his two children, Nathan and Mikayla, have no choice but to join him in his sporting interests. Justin loves keeping active with his family, trying to stay fit and healthy.

 

EVA PALMIERI, LOWER SCHOOL GRADE 3 TEACHER
Eva Palmieri is currently in her fifth year as a grade 3 teacher at The American International School of Muscat in Oman. She prides herself on being a Colorado native, where she taught for four years in her hometown of Conifer before moving overseas. Eva has earned an MA in elementary education from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Outside of school, Eva is known for her love of Spartan Obstacle Course Racing, paddle boarding, camping, and hiking. Eva is always seen out and about with her husband Thomas Yates and her adorable 14-year-old dog Lilly. She is beyond excited to continue her amazing journey of international education and experience South America.

 

MARK PATE, MIDDLE SCHOOL STEM TEACHER
Mark is currently a middle school math, science, and design technology teacher at The International School of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he has had the privilege of teaching for the past five years. Originally from Canada, Mark has traveled to nearly 40 countries, including Vietnam, China, and Thailand, but has yet to experience the vibrant cultures of South America. He holds a BA in contemporary studies from Wilfrid Laurier University and a BA in education from Nipissing University. As a Canadian, he naturally enjoys hockey, but in the spring, his attention turns to the Six Nations Rugby Championship; his team is Ireland. After having lived in Asia for 13 years, Mark is excited to move to Brazil and explore Brazillian coffee, food, dance, and maybe even take a roll on the mats with some Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

 

COLLEEN QUINN, LOWER SCHOOL GRADE 4 TEACHER
Colleen is currently a grade 5 teacher at Jakarta Intercultural School, where she has been teaching for six years. Prior to this, she taught in Kuwait and Vietnam. Colleen has an MA in education and a BA in theater. In her free time, she enjoys spending time at the gym, baking treats for her colleagues, reading, or finding interesting sunglasses to add to her collection. Colleen is in her eleventh year of teaching internationally and is excited to begin a new adventure in Brazil!

 

MARLA STARR, LOWER AND UPPER SCHOOL OPTIMAL LEARNING SERVICES (OLS) TEACHER
Marla is currently an academic coach at The American School of Bombay and has previously worked in Egypt, Japan, Germany, and the US. Marla is half-American and half-German. She grew up in Colorado and calls Düsseldorf, Germany her home. She holds a BA in linguistics from the University of Chicago, an MEd in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University Chicago, and an EdD in educational leadership from Bethel University. Outside of school, Marla is an avid marathon runner (32 full marathons and 4 ultra marathons completed to date), an ardent cyclist, and a yoga teacher. She is also passionate about Japanese ink painting and has twice exhibited works in the National Gallery in Tokyo. Marla is coming to São Paulo with two cats and is very excited about teaching on her fifth continent.

 

DAVID TRAJTENBERG, MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Dave was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned his BA in chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College. David also holds an MA degree in teaching and curriculum from Harvard University and an MA in school leadership from the University of Southern Mississippi. David completed his PhD in educational leadership and innovation at the University of Colorado, Denver. Dave has taught and served in a variety of teaching and leadership roles, ranging from preschool through high school. He has worked in the US in Virginia and Colorado, as well as internationally in Japan and Peru. Before coming to Graded, he was a Secondary School principal in Hanoi, Vietnam. Whenever he is not at school, Dave enjoys spending time with his wife Helen, his three daughters, Rose (13), Olive (11), and Violet (8), and their dog Buddy. In his spare time, David is an avid distance runner, cyclist, magician, juggler, surfer, reader, and photographer. Dave and his family are thrilled to be a part of the Graded community.

 

HELEN TRAJTENBERG, HIGH SCHOOL THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE (TOK) TEACHER
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Helen Trajtenberg graduated from the University of Texas, Austin with a BA in visual arts and in psychology. She also holds an MA in art therapy from George Washington University and is a licensed art therapist with the American Art Therapy Association. With 14 years of experience in the classroom, she has taught in US public and charter schools, mostly in the state of Colorado, and also internationally in Japan, Peru, and Vietnam. Helen is passionate about teaching and learning, and enjoys helping students develop their own passion for lifelong learning. She is excited to be joining the Graded High School faculty as a TOK teacher. She is coming to the Graded community with her husband, David Trajtenberg, the incoming Middle School principal, and their three daughters. In her spare time, Helen enjoys spending time with her family, going for walks, traveling, painting, cooking, and practicing yoga.

 

ALEX WASHKO, LOWER SCHOOL GRADE 1 TEACHER
Alex is currently in his fifth year at The International School of Macao in China, where he has taught both Kindergarten and first grade. Before that, he hopped around a bit, teaching and living in Mexico City, Seoul, and Albania. Alex holds a BA in education from DePaul University and an MA in education from the University of Pittsburgh. When not at school, he is probably cooking something overly complicated, trying to stay active and fit, or watching terrible sci-fi and horror movies. After traveling through most of South America, Alex is looking forward to settling in São Paulo and working at Graded, hopefully, for many years to come.

 

THOMAS YATES, HIGH SCHOOL MATHEMATICS TEACHER
Thomas is currently in his fifth year of teaching high school mathematics at The American International School of Muscat in Oman. Previously, he lived in Evergreen, Colorado with his wife Eva and dog for 10 years, and was the head of the Math Department at Conifer High School during that time. He holds a BS in mathematical education from Illinois State University and an MA in administration and supervision from the University of Phoenix. Outside of school, Thomas enjoys playing and watching sports (especially winter sports which he misses dearly), traveling, grilling, finding and enjoying breweries with his wife and dog, and being outdoors. Thomas is an avid Chicago sports fan and cannot wait to learn about the soccer culture of Brazil. Having traveled around the US, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, Thomas and Eva are thrilled to live and learn all about South America. 

 

Colleen Boerner, Upper School Librarian - Posted 06/08/2020 10:00AM

Graded booklovers were ecstatic!

In April during the quarantine, the school Libraries offered the community an opportunity to retrieve more good reads via Curbside Checkout. The initiative was a huge success. Ninety-seven requests were submitted and the Library team curated more than 1,000 books for students and families to enjoy. 

To participate in the Curbside Checkout, students and families completed Google forms to request new titles. The Library staff then selected books, checked them out, and packed them in bags for students and families, which they made available for curbside pick up in the Graded Parking Garage. A member of the Library team was in the garage to hand families their books, so there was no need to get out of the car. 

Graded parent Natalie Della Rosa, whose family took advantage of the Curbside Checkout opportunity raved, "This is such a great resource you and the team are offering families. We love reading hard books more than electronic editions. Having access to the library is a bit of a godsend when we are stuck at home like this!"

Reading is a fundamental skill for academic success. During this period of social distancing, it is also a wonderful way to travel, escape, experience, learn, connect, and develop empathy. The Graded Libraries' goal remains to get books into the hands of students. To this end, we have added a number of resources to our Google sites, so that students may access both eBooks and audiobooks.

However, even with these wonderful digital collections of fiction and nonfiction titles, we know that many students prefer to read in print. After days of Zoom meetings and online classwork, a break from screen time is welcomed. While most school libraries have closed their doors during the pandemic, our team really wanted to go the extra mile. Promoting reading and making our wonderful collection of books available to students was the impetus for Curbside Checkout. 

The Library team orchestrated Curbside Checkout while adhering to the best health and safety practices. Following the recommendations of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we made sure to quarantine returned books before handling them and making them available for checkout. In addition, while handling and distributing books, Library staff wore masks, gloves, and practiced frequent handwashing.

Prior to distance learning, the Graded Libraries have always allowed returning students to check out books for vacation reading. We know many students and families look forward to this opportunity each year. After experiencing a successful Curbside Checkout, the Library team will make Vacation Checkout a reality this year, too. Keep reading!

The Graded Gazette - Posted 02/18/2020 02:30PM

 

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!


 

Angela Park, Communications Associate - Posted 12/04/2019 09:00AM

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 Gazette - Posted 10/30/2019 09:20AM

Graded’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) organized a colorful reading-themed Teacher Appreciation Week, honoring faculty for their steadfast dedication to students and their growth. Teachers were showered with gifts, snacks, special breakfasts, heartwarming messages from students, and a party with amazing raffles.

Internationally-renowned author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds also visited Graded in October, teaching students to use art as a way to channel their creativity and express their ideas and dreams. Mr. Reynolds also spoke to parents (“grown-up kids”), encouraging them to promote artistry at home on a daily basis.

We are excited for our school-wide Thanksgiving Celebration on Saturday, November 9. Tomorrow, we will hold the annual all-school Halloween Parade. IB Theatre students will also premier their production of “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. Be on the lookout for the Lower School Musical, Upper School Choir and Orchestra Concert, Kindness Week, and sports tournaments in November!

The Graded Gazette - Posted 09/25/2019 10:55AM

 

1. What inspired you to study teaching and become a pre-primary teacher?
I've always had a desire to work with young children. I believe teachers have a very significant, lifelong impact on all of their students. This impact involves not only the teaching of particular academic skills, but also, and just as importantly, the fostering of a student's self-esteem.

 

2. What do you enjoy most about working as a Pre-primary teacher at Graded?
There are always new experiences and challenges. I also love the fact that we get involved with so many different cultures and backgrounds. I've had students from Denmark, the United States, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, and South Korea, to name a few. And of course, Brazil.

 

3. You're originally from Rio de Janeiro but have lived in São Paulo for many years. What is something you've learned to admire about São Paulo?
I moved to São Paulo, because my husband is from the city. It is the place where I have had the opportunity to grow as a mother, a person, and a professional. I treasure it for that. Also, I like cooler places, and I love the variety of restaurants in São Paulo.

 

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I was born in Rio, but I would never move back there. Where would I live? Definitely New York. Like São Paulo, New York is a huge city with many food options, museums, and a diverse population. It is also an extremely accessible city where you don't need to have a car. I can walk or take public transportation to any place at any time. New York has an amazing energy. There's no other place like it.

 

5. What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
I really liked Bewitched and Charlie's Angels because they both had strong female characters.

 

6. What advice can you give about how to relieve stress?
Find a hobby, eat your favorite dessert, dance, and always think positively.

 

7. You love arts and crafts and particularly working with paper. What kinds of things do you make?
I love scrapbooking and doing new art projects with my students. I used to create scrapbooks with my daughters and it was such a fun way to keep track of our memories.

 

8. What character trait are you currently trying to change or improve?
I want to become more athletic. I'd like to try yoga.

 

9. What's your favorite junk food, even though you know it's not good for you?
French fries and brigadeiro de colher!

 

10. What's your favorite thing about Graded?
It's definitely my second home. My daughters both graduated from Graded. It's a place that makes me grow professionally and as a person every day.

 

The Graded Gazette - Posted 08/27/2019 10:00AM

 

1. You've worked at a number of international schools since you started teaching. What has been the best thing about each country you've taught in, including Brazil?

It's almost impossible to pick just one amazing thing about each country I have lived in, but I will try! 

  • Japan has a specific "way" of doing things — from how food is presented to how to prune a plant. I loved how deliberate and mindful they are with just about everything! 

  • South Korean culture seems like the perfect mix of old and new — with neon signs and traffic lights next to centuries-old buildings. 

  • Singapore is a perfect lesson on how to pack diversity, modernity, and awesomeness into the tiniest of spaces. 

  • Oman's natural beauty and kind people captured my heart in a way that still surprises me. 

  • The UAE does everything BIG. Buildings, deserts, malls, food... it's a country that pushes boundaries and thinks there is always something beyond the best, the biggest, and the most. 

  • Brazil? I've barely scratched the surface, but I can already see the fun, joy, and color this place has to offer. I have never been in a more vibrant, musical, and exciting place! Brazilians just seem to have a sparkle. I can't think of a better word — the smiles, the eyes, the personalities... they all sparkle.

 

2. What book has made a big impact on you?

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery gave me a heroine who embraces her weirdness and was unapologetically herself. Anne doesn't change who she is. The people who truly matter learn to appreciate and celebrate her quirks and exuberance. Those who don't - who needs them anyway? 

 

3. You co-lead the Green Club. Tell us one fact that will convince every student at Graded to consider going green or going "even more green."

Every piece of plastic you have ever used is still somewhere on this planet.

Your garbage doesn't disappear just because you have tossed it in a trash can. Think about using less and choosing biodegradable options. When I scuba dive, I see plastic everywhere, and I have helped free more than one sea creature that's been trapped by trash! Do you "need" to bring in plastic plates, cups, and cutlery for your birthday party at school? They'll be used and tossed in minutes and will stay on our planet for centuries. Cupcakes are much more environmentally friendly. Plus, who doesn't like cupcakes? No one I'd ever trust, that's who!

 

4. Your husband, John Wolfe, also works at Graded. What is the worst — and the best — about working at the same place your spouse does?

The worst is that it is hard to escape work. If we don't make a deliberate effort to avoid "talking shop," our job could literally take up our entire life! It is much harder to achieve a work-life balance when we work with the same people, at the same school, doing the same type of job! Especially when our friends work at the school as well.

The best? We have a lot of empathy for each other. Our jobs are very similar, so I feel he really understands the joys and challenges of being a teacher. Also, his team is full of hilarious, cool people. Not only do I get to hang out with my amazing Grade 3 team, but I feel like an honorary member of Grade 5 as well. Double the fun, double the parties, double the love! 

 

5. What do you miss most from your childhood?

I'm a farm kid from a place where everyone knows everyone. My entire high school had about 150 people. While people may not know you personally, saying your last name would be enough for someone to recall your father, your mother, your grandparents - your whole lineage. I had some teachers who actually taught my parents, aunts, and uncles! I hated that growing up. How can you get away with anything when everyone knows your family? Answer: You can't.

Now I miss it. I am so proud of my family and where I'm from. I miss being able to introduce myself as "Leigh Ann Fitch, Peter's and Ann's girl" and having someone know exactly where I fit in within the world.

 

6. Have you ever felt excluded? Explain the situation and how it made you feel.

I have freckles, and they are just sprinkles of fantastic all over my face. But I didn't always think like that. I got made fun of pretty badly by a couple of kids in my class. They wouldn't let me play with them because my skin looked "dirty." It really made me hate looking in the mirror and seeing those spots! I tried scrubbing my face until it was almost raw. I tried rubbing lemon juice on them. I even tried bargaining with Santa because he had a solid record of making things happen. Please note: I was about seven years old at the time, so I felt I had explored all my available options at the time.

Luckily, I had one more alternative. Her name was Tara, my friend who also had freckles. Tara didn't care what those other kids thought. We ignored the freckle haters. Tara figured that they were just jealous. Why else would they be so obsessed with us? Shouldn't they have better things to do since they're so cool? It turns out that ignoring them and doing our own thing made us boring to pick on. The freckle haters moved on with their freckle-free lives. Tara is still my best friend, and we now wear our freckles with pride. If you find yourself a Tara, get on her train and never get off.

 

7. What is your favorite thing to do outside of the classroom, in your free time?

Scuba diving! Did you know that humanity knows more about the surface of the moon than the bottom of the ocean? There is so much to see, explore, and learn down there. I swear that each fish has a personality and a worldview. I even imagine voices for them when I see them swimming about. I recognize how bonkers that sounds, but I'm like Anne of Green Gables. I embrace my weird! 

Scuba diving has helped me learn to slow down, breathe, and observe the world around me. I'm a chatterbox, so having a regulator in my mouth for breathing forces me to communicate efficiently and carefully. Diving has its own special sign language and you need to get it right. If I could learn to say more with fewer words on land, I'd be all set! We are all works in progress, aren't we? 

 

8. If you could be any cartoon character, which one would you be?

Let's just forget about the fact that I was obsessed with Snow White when I was in kindergarten. I only answered to the name Snow White and refused to take off the princess dress that my mom made me for Halloween. Also, can we forget that I completely lost my mind when I watched Snow White during a Disneyland parade? Let's ignore the fact that I was 25 years old when that happened. Yes, ignore and forget all those things.

 

9. What is your favorite thing about Graded?

Hands down: the people. I've lived in enough places to know that people can make or break a place. You can live in paradise, but if you don't feel you belong with the people you see every day, paradise changes to a hellscape pretty quickly! I've met some pretty incredible people on my travels and Graded people are tops on that list.

Richard Boerner, Superintendent - Posted 05/29/2019 11:00AM

By Richard Boerner, Superintendent

The concept of a think tank is not a new one, but it is rather uncommon in schools. Why is this the case? Why don’t schools look more outwardly and leverage outside expertise and research to drive improvement?

Graded has been a vanguard in international education for nearly 100 years. As a leading academic institution, we continue to push, grow, and improve upon our strengths. It was this desire that inspired our design of Think Tank 2019. As we shared in early-April, Graded brought together some of the world's best thought leaders to help us prioritize and implement our next steps toward continuous school improvement. What was refreshing was that we chose to do this not because we had to, but rather because we had the capacity to do it.

So, what did we learn? What advice and expertise did our guests share that we, as a learning community, could act upon to enhance the experience of our students? To determine this, we needed to listen, reflect, and think. After Think Tank concluded, we talked to the participating faculty and administrators, as well as our Board of Directors. Then on Thursday evening, two weeks later, 85 faculty voluntarily gathered to learn, understand, and offer input.

Through these extended dialogues, additional outreach, and further discussions with our Think Tank experts, we have distilled and synthesized what we learned and have thoughtfully developed our path forward.

A repeated piece of advice offered by many of the Think Tank experts was to resist doing too much. Dr. Kevin Mattingly, professor of science of learning at Teachers College, Columbia University, said it best, “Great schools try to do too much, so select a singular focus, with evidence of result, and be unrelenting in making progress.”

As I previously stated, Graded's students are excelling. Teaching and learning are strong. In short, results are impressive. However, Graded can be even better. We can create more meaningful and lasting connections between what students learn and what they do with that information. In fact, I would argue this is why education exists: for students to gain knowledge, develop skills to interpret the knowledge, and apply those skills in real-world, lived experiences.

To accomplish this objective, Graded will apply cognitive science research known as the "science of learning.” It will help us ensure that students, via inspirational instruction, harness deep, enduring, and transferable learning that will be evidenced in their work, their thinking, and their lives. In partnership with Dr. Mattingly and Columbia University, our faculty will begin in-depth training in the science of learning.

Additionally, we will share with students the strategies and approaches to making learning stick. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the content they learn and discover ways to apply and transfer their learning to new situations. The depth and quality of student work will serve as evidence of these new ways in which they “think about their thinking.” As we utilize the best approaches for students, we will measure how these neuroscience strategies positively impact their learning.

During a recent conversation with our Leadership Team, Dr. Mattingly said that “Graded is undertaking groundbreaking work in the science of learning.” He strongly encouraged us to publish the work.

While keenly focused on deepening learning experiences for our students, we cannot and should not ignore the critical role that belonging plays in the success of a learner. So, we will also focus on ensuring that students and faculty belong – that they feel connected, valued, engaged, and heard. This initiative, in partnership with the Institute for Social Emotional Learning, will ensure that students have the mindset, well-being, and sense of purpose needed to engage more passionately in their work and transfer what they learn into meaningful experiences after Graded.

Think Tank served as a catalyst that allowed our faculty and administration to reflect on and engage with the research around learning. It helped us develop a thoughtful plan to continue our improvement on behalf of the students we serve. As we near 100 years as an academic institution, we build upon Graded’s strong foundation.

I am honored to lead our school through this exciting and compelling time of growth, and I look forward to your active engagement with us on this journey. If you are curious to learn more about the science of learning, I encourage you to read Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, a book by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel.

One School, One Community, One Graded,

Richard Boerner
Superintendent

 

The Graded Gazette - Posted 05/29/2019 10:00AM

VLADMIR CRUZ, DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION
Vladmir, also known as Vlad, has worked in information technology for more than 20 years. His experience includes roles in a variety of industries including steel, chemical, heavy machinery, and hospitality. Vlad has also taught applied technology and telecommunications at Serviço Social da Indústria (SESI) in Minas Gerais. A Brazilian, Vlad moved to the United States as a teenager and attended high school in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He has a BS in computer science from Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas) and an MBA from Fundação Getúlio Vargas. Vlad is a native Portuguese speaker but is also fluent in both English and Spanish. He is married and the father of two boys: Igor, age 5 and Eric, age 3. Vlad loves to read, play the guitar, draw cartoons, ride his Harley, and play video games (especially now that he has two apprentices).


JAMES FORSTER, HIGH SCHOOL MATHEMATICS TEACHER
Originally from South London, James graduated with a degree in mathematics from Leicester University before working as a teacher in state schools in England and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1999, he moved to São Paulo to work as a mathematics teacher, first at St. Paul’s School and more recently at St. Nicholas School, where he currently serves as subject coordinator. James is passionate about teaching math and believes that every student can enjoy success in the subject. James is married to Elayne, and they have two children: Yasmin in grade 4 and Alex in grade 2, both of whom will be joining Graded's Lower School. He speaks Portuguese (com sotaque inglês, obviamente) and loves the hustle and bustle of his Pinheiros neighborhood. When he has free time, James enjoys working out and visiting new places with his family, along with playing chess, bridge, and golf. He is also an enthusiastic, if slightly plodding, zagueiro (defender), who occasionally watches soccer matches at the Morumbi stadium.


ANNA HAMMERNIK, LOWER SCHOOL ASSOCIATE PRINCIPAL
Anna is a career educator with more than 20 years of experience. She started as a teacher assistant while earning her Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Alverno College. Following stints teaching public school and serving as a teacher trainer in Ethiopia, Anna received her MS in cultural foundations of education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She was then selected to participate in a year-long residency in New Orleans, Louisiana with New Leaders where she completed her administrative licensure. Anna merged her passions for education and travel when she took the leap into international education six years ago. When she isn’t working or traveling, Anna loves spending time with family and friends.


PAUL HAVERN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE COUNSELING
Paul Havern first discovered an interest in higher education while in college at Michigan State University and working in residence life. Upon graduating with a degree in English literature, he moved to New York City where he began working in the admissions office at The Cooper Union, a highly-selective college focusing on art, architecture, and engineering. Paul worked there for nearly six years, becoming assistant director of admissions. Wanting to work more directly with students, he decided to switch sides of the desk and took his current job as high school college counselor at TASIS England, an American school outside London. As a counselor, Paul utilizes his in-depth knowledge of selective college admissions to better aid his students. In his free time, he enjoys reading, traveling, and learning about architecture, history, and food.

 

KEVIN KOOIENGA, LOWER SCHOOL COUNSELOR
Kevin is currently the upper elementary counselor at the International School of Beijing, where he has worked for the past four years. American-born and raised in the midwest, Kevin has spent most of his adult life living overseas and teaching in international schools. Before working in Beijing, Kevin served as middle school counselor at the American Community Schools in Athens, Greece, middle school English and drama teacher at the American School of Kuwait, and high school English teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota. He earned an MA in counseling and student personnel psychology and a license in professional counseling therapy from the University of Minnesota before escaping the chill of winter and returning to the world of international teaching. When not teaching guidance lessons or leading parent workshops, Kevin spends his time reading, traveling, exploring the local food scene, and training for his next triathlon.


JENNIFER RIBACHONEK, LOWER SCHOOL OPTIMAL LEARNING SERVICES TEACHER
Jen is a learning support specialist currently teaching in Istanbul, Turkey. Originally from South Florida, Jen received her BA in anthropology from the University of Florida and then jumped right into community education work with various non-profit organizations. A passion for social justice led her to pursue an MA in peace education from the University for Peace, an organization with university status established with a mandate from the United Nations. Jen transitioned into a teaching career 16 years ago, specializing in learning support and language acquisition. Along with her husband, Tim Trotter, who is a high school mathematics teacher, Jen has taught in Mexico, Costa Rica, South Korea, and Turkey. Together with their two children, Lia and Gabriel, they embrace their international life with open hearts. Jen's hobbies include reading, spending time in nature, and learning to play various world drums.   


TIM TROTTER, HIGH SCHOOL MATHEMATICS TEACHER
Tim Trotter is entering his twenty-first year of teaching, the past 16 of which were spent in Mexico, Costa Rica, South Korea, and most recently, Turkey. Prior to that, Tim spent five years teaching in his hometown of Denver, Colorado. He is joining the Graded community with his wife, Jennifer Ribachonek (Lower School optimal learning services teacher), and two children, Lia and Gabriel. Tim earned his BS in mathematics at the United States Naval Academy, after which he spent three years training to be a pilot. Once out of the military, he completed his MA in educational leadership at Colorado State University. A lover of numerous sports, he is most excited about living in a country that is as passionate as he is about judo and volleyball. When not playing sports, Tim enjoys the outdoors, reading, and tinkering with things.


The Graded Gazette - Posted 04/24/2019 10:00AM


1. You’ve worked as a Spanish bilingual teacher and are also fluent in French. Tell us about how and where you mastered these languages.

My mom was Brazilian and my father is German. As a kid, I was always exposed to several different languages at home. When we moved to California, learning Spanish was relatively simple, and I spent many months after college in Central America refining my skills in Spanish. I then returned to California to work with San Francisco’s Mexican and Central American population, teaching grades 1 and 3. Also, at 17, we moved to Geneva, Switzerland. Believe it or not, I didn’t want to go. In the beginning, I rebelled, but then decided to make the best of it. I took three hours of French classes a day and dedicated myself to the language.  I enrolled in University of California, Davis (UC Davis) a year later and chose to major in French. After college, I bought a one-way ticket to France and decided to apply my knowledge to real life. I was a bit idealistic at the time: no job, no work visa, little money. I spent nine months working on farms around the countryside and had one of the greatest experiences of my life.


2. What was your life like when you were in grade 5?

As a kid, I moved around a lot. Moving from place to place helped me become the open-minded, accepting person I am today. I adapt easily to change and am resilient in stressful situations. I didn’t always love moving around during my elementary school years. Making new friends and always saying goodbye is stressful, but I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to grow from these experiences.  As Graded is somewhat a transient community, I continue to struggle with goodbyes and new friends. I know many of our students deal with this reality all the time. After all is said and done, meeting so many wonderful, diverse personalities is what makes Graded a wonderful place to be.


3. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “fun”?

Fun is getting out of the city and enjoying nature — the beach or the mountains, in the company of family and friends. That’s ALWAYS fun!


4. What type of museum do you most like to visit?

I used to complain when my parents dragged me to art museums as a child, but ultimately, I gained an appreciation for art. I like going to modern art museums. São Paulo's Pinacoteca and the MOMA in New York are two of my favorites. When I visit a museum,  I try to imagine what an artist was feeling or thinking when he/she created a piece.


5. What’s one guilty pleasure you enjoy too much to give up?

Listening to true crime podcasts.


6. What do you hope scientists will completely figure out some time in the next 20 years?

I think we live during a pivotal time in history.  It is so exciting to be in education, because the kids we work with every day will be making decisions and discoveries that will affect humanity as a whole. My hope involves sustainable energy and zero waste. It is hard to imagine what Earth will look like in 20 years, if we continue with the current rate of consumption. I would like to see society make huge shifts in its use of resources. Science and technology, along with a radical human mindshift, is our only hope for survival. I know this sounds a bit radical, but it’s true. If we can’t figure out how to live sustainably, we will need some retirement communities on Mars for us to live out our final years.


7. What creative activities do you engage in?

I love cooking. My favorite thing to make is vegetable stir fry. The thing I love most about cooking is watching loved ones enjoy the work and energy that went into preparing the meal. I also like making art, especially woodblock and linoleum prints. I play some guitar, but I often find myself getting frustrated because it is so hard. I guess I’m not patient enough. In general, I am very creative. I love dancing and listening to music, doodling, or just plain coloring.


8. What are the best ways to inspire or motivate people?

The only way to inspire people is by example. People feel inspired when they see others inspired. We are generally attracted to people who are happy or people who appear to be doing grand things with their lives. When I am around people like that, I tend to also feel happy or motivated to do something larger than myself. Being around inspired people leads to conversations about inspiration and the desire to make a difference. I could never expect to inspire my students if I didn’t feel inspired, or in my case, feel a total love for being with young people.


9. What’s your favorite season of the year? Why?

I love spring. Every season has an emotion or a way of being that goes along with it. Autumn is nesting and winter is resting. Spring is time to start new things and to fall in love.


10. What is your favorite thing about Graded?

Sometimes I don’t like to admit this about myself: I am a competitive person. Graded prepares students for the competitive world we live in. I don’t mean to say we are preparing our students to be competitive. On the contrary, we are teaching students collaboration and communication skills. But at the same time, through the rigorous demands of our curriculum, we are preparing our kids for hard work, giving them stamina, and exposing them to high-quality challenging content and skills. I often refer to Graded as one of the best schools in the world, and I can say that with conviction.


Angela Park, Communications Associate - Posted 04/24/2019 08:00AM

by Angela Park, Communications Associate

 

“It’s not easy being green.”

A school’s green initiatives might not make a significant difference in a city that produces roughly 20,000 tons of waste every day. However, an ecologically-conscious mindset, developed at a young age, may influence an individual’s decisions over a lifetime.

At Graded, the Lower School Green Club encourages students to engage in sustainable living practices and raises awareness of environmental issues. The club, led by grade 5 teacher Patricia Gehrels and grade 3 teacher Leigh Ann Fitch, meets every Thursday after school in Gehrels’ fifth grade classroom. After dropping their backpacks and grabbing a handful of healthy snacks provided by the teachers, club members gather around in a circle in the front of the classroom. Students learn and discuss a variety of topics: recycling processes, insects, ecosystems, and gardening basics — to list a few.

This semester, students opted to start a garden at Graded. To some, planting a garden may appear to be a simple task, but there is more than what meets the eye. Over the course of several weeks, students patiently and diligently mixed worms into the soil, raked leaves, cleared the sod, and added layers of cardboard beneath the compost before planting seeds and flowers.


“Planting the carrots was my favorite part,” said fifth grade student Valentina L. “I also learned about all the benefits of being in contact with nature, how nature can help you, and how you can help nature back.”

Students have witnessed symbiotic relationships between different organisms. “I thought that all animals were bad for the garden,” said third grader Lorena B. “But actually, insects are really good for the garden, and bird poop is really helpful [as a fertilizer].”

Club members have also undertaken other green initiatives at Graded, including recycling. Third grader Arianna H. recalled her first project, where she and her friends “went around from first to fifth grade classrooms to collect all recyclable materials.”

While the gardening project will be ongoing, club members will come together to decide upon their next green project. “At the Think Tank, they mentioned how problem-solving is important, but even more important is problem-finding,” affirmed Gehrels. “It’s this idea of ‘Let’s walk around the school and see how can we improve what we already have.’”

“Our job is to hone their vision a bit, asking them ‘Do you notice that? What does that tell you?’ We’re here to point them to things and get the questions going in their heads,” added Fitch. “When they get older and have the power to facilitate larger change, then maybe this will have been a positive influence for them.”

As Valentina aptly concluded, “Graded could be a greener school, and if we work together we can make it happen."


The Lower School Green Club meets every Thursday from 3:15-4:00 pm in Patricia Gehrels’ E01 classroom. Students in grades 3-5 are welcome to join. For more information, please contact Patricia Gehrels at patricia.gehrels@graded.br.


Richard Boerner, Superintendent - Posted 03/28/2019 11:00AM


Message from the Superintendent

Graded is continuously striving to enhance educational delivery. We are committed to ensuring that all of our teaching and learning initiatives are meaningful, interrelated, and authentic, and furthermore, that they fully prepare our students for college and beyond. 

To this end, we have invited some of the world’s best thought leaders to join us to participate in Think Tank on April 8-9, 2019. Together, we will work to create an even more robust, vibrant learning environment, fostering transformational outcomes for students and teachers alike. 

Parents and students are invited to attend a Think Tank Panel Discussion with panelists on Monday, April 8, from 3:30-4:30 pm in Graded’s Black Box Theater. Seating is limited, so please RSVP HERE.

Richard Boerner
Superintendent

The Graded Gazette - Posted 02/26/2019 12:00PM

 

1. Before coming to Brazil, you taught lower school in Houston, Paraguay, and Dubai. What thread of teaching or learning winds through those experiences and feeds into what you do at Graded?

Starting my teaching career in Houston allowed me to gain an in-depth knowledge of so many different skills and aspects of the general classroom. I initially began teaching with a specialization in English Language Arts/Literacy. Those were the only subjects I taught during my first two years of teaching. Specializing in these subject areas also opened doors for me to train and get certified in English as a Second Language (ESL). Teaching in private, public, and for-profit educational settings has broadened my experience and connections to so many different types of children and learners. These interpersonal skills and knowledge in language have allowed me to adapt myself and my teaching to fit the needs of my students, no matter where in the world I teach.


2. Why grade 4?

Just coincidence. I’ve always loved the upper grades. I started in grade 3, moved to grade 2, and then eventually found my home in grade 4. I feel a strong connection to this age level and content area. Students at any age have lots of potential and capabilities, but grade 4 seems to be the age when responsibility and accountability kick in for young learners. I feel kids in this grade are ready to take control of their learning experiences and drive in the direction they'd like their education to go.


3. You come from a family of artists. Tell more about that and about where art fits in your life.

My mother is a singer and actress, currently specializing in educational/historical theater. She performs historical reenactments of legendary people of the past. Throughout her reenactments, she speaks about the importance of reading and education. Her reenactments of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad are based on “turning around and helping somebody” – mainly the young or those in need. She preaches about the power of reading and how books open worlds of opportunities. My father is a journalist and guitar player, and he was once a DJ. His passion for communications, expression, writing, and literature was a part of my childhood. In saying this, I think those traits have transcended into my career choices. As an educator, my first priority is making sure all of my students learn compassion for all people in the world, grow strengths in literacy, and become effective communicators.  


4. Who is the greatest leader of all time?

In my view, Mohammed Ali and Mother Teresa are the top two greatest leaders of all time. Ali courageously spoke out for human rights and racial equality during one of the most conflicted times in American history. Mother Teresa selflessly spent most of her life helping those in need. Courage and sacrifice are two traits that amazing leaders possess. Those leaders give more than themselves for what others need.



5. Did you work while you were in high school or college? What kind of jobs did you have?

I did. I worked lots of different jobs including front desk clerk at the YMCA, an instructor at a private Catholic school, a full-time nanny, and a receptionist. Before I started teaching, I worked for four years in real estate as an assistant to brokers and agents. I also started a small pet care business. Both of the last two jobs were enjoyable and fulfilling. I learned a lot!


6. If you could write a best-selling book, what would you write about?

I would probably write a book about the faith and endurance everyday people have in following their dreams and living out their lives to the greatest purpose. There are so many amazing “normal” people walking around these days, people who are doing extraordinary things to make our world a better place. I’d hope a book like that would encourage others to take advantage of the good we all can do to make everyone’s lives better. Folks always love a good self-help or trials and tribulations story. I know I do.


7. What’s the best way to resist peer pressure?

Building your own sense of self and having a strong identity helps a lot, but that definitely takes time.


8. You love animals. Tell more about your experiences founding and owning a small animal care business.

It was a fun opportunity that came along after pet-sitting for a couple of friends. They told their friends, and then they told their other friends, and it just began from there. The business catered to owners of large dogs and exotic animals, such as iguanas, diabetic cats, and snakes. I never knew how lucrative pet sitting and animal care could be. However, once I was able to make a name for myself and maintain a steady clientele, I realized how much work actually went into running a business. I had a great time caring for so many different types of pets and helping people find someone they trusted to keep their animals safe. It’s definitely something I would love to do again.


9. What’s something about you that no one knows?

I have a nostalgic love for Winnie the Pooh. I still have a huge Winnie the Pooh bear in my mom’s storage unit that I got as a gift for my 16th birthday!


10. What is your favorite thing about Graded?

My favorite thing about Graded is my students and their families! I’ve loved building relationships with each of my students. They have so much light and love to spread. I hope that I can help them maintain that light and continue to spread love no matter where they go in this world. Oh, and I love Dona Emilia’s lunches.


Olga Molina, Lower School Music Teacher - Posted 12/06/2018 07:00AM

by Olga Molina, Lower School Music Teacher


Music has been shown to help develop concentration and reasoning skills, improve language fluency, promote motor skills, and inspire better performance in technical disciplines such as mathematics and physics.

At Graded, the Lower School Music Program prepares children to join the Middle and High School ensembles, providing students with a variety of experiences, from pantomiming and folk dance to improvising and composing. Our eclectic music curriculum involves two main approaches: conceptual learning and music literacy. We expose children, throughout their musical education, to pitch, length, form, dynamics, and meter. We teach music literacy sequentially, based upon the Kodaly methodology by using folk songs from various cultures. Students not only sing these songs but also learn to play the recorder.

A musical education provides each student with a new mode of expression, clearer ideas, better memory retention, and enhanced problem-solving skills. Children, specifically, benefit from singing songs, which allow for rapid enunciation improvement. Singing can also spark significant increases in vocabulary. Socially, the practice of chamber music (music performance in groups) helps one build interpersonal skills through non-verbal means. Music is an especially apt medium for the development of a balanced and harmonious personality.

Experts speak of a “musical intelligence,” one that is not only intrapersonal (involving control over individual feelings and movements) but also interpersonal (involving the ability to understand one’s place in the world through relationships with others).

Ensuring that Graded students have access to the extraordinary benefits of a musical education in childhood has been one of my primary professional objectives over the last twenty-five years.

More recently, however, I have also taught courses for aspiring music educators. In these classes, I stress the importance of having a solid background in music and education and staying up-to-date with national and international instructional methodologies for childhood music education. Teaching children how to sing properly through vocal training is also crucial. I am honored and thrilled to have shared some of my experiences as music instructor – for children and adults – by answering viewer questions on TV Globo’s Como Será?


Click here to watch Olga Molina’s interview (conducted in Portuguese).

Rob Switzer, Director of Athletics and Activities - Posted 09/25/2018 05:00PM

By Rob Switzer, Director of Athletics and Activities


A new school year brings about a fresh start and novel opportunities. This certainly is the case for our Graded Athletics program.

With the Athletics Center set to open in February 2019, a new generation of Eagles will be training and competing in our world-class facilities. Along with the brand new Athletics Center, our students will have some exciting athletic opportunities this year.

In the past, Graded has participated in the Big Four, Big Eight, and Little Eight Tournaments at Nosso Recanto (NR) camp. In February 2018, an additional opportunity emerged. The South American Activities Conference (SAAC) accepted Graded as its seventh member school. SAAC includes the following institutions:

  • Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Lima, Peru)

  • American School of Quito (Quito, Ecuador)

  • International School Nido de Aguilas (Santiago, Chile)

  • Uruguayan American School (Montevideo, Uruguay)

  • Lincoln - The American International School (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

  • International School of Curitiba (Curitiba, Brazil)

Joining this international conference places Graded on par with the world’s most elite international schools, much in the way that our arts students participate globally in The Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS).

It is a benefit to our High School students when they can report that they have competed in athletics tournaments on an international level. By participating in SAAC, Graded will also be 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 in the future, tennis.

Graded athletics teams will now compete in tournaments at NR camp one semester and participate in the SAAC tournament the next. This new format doubles our athletes’ opportunities to compete while better managing out-of-school time. Additionally, the combination of SAAC and NR will allow us to develop year-round competitive opportunities for our students.

Beginning in 2018-19, our basketball, volleyball, and swimming programs will be full-year. We are evaluating the possibility of this arrangement for other sports, too. We are still working to resolve first-semester SAAC and Big Eight soccer travel date conflicts for this school year but there are ideas for the next school year. Our junior varsity (JV) Little Eight tournaments will maintain their current schedule.

We are excited to bring international school tournaments back to our Graded campus as well. In 2019, we will host the SAAC Track and Field/Cross Country Tournament. The following school year, we will host the SAAC Swimming Tournament at our new swimming facility. These events will bring our community together as we showcase our spirit and hospitality. We will host approximately 150 students per tournament, equivalent to the number of students we hosted during our last Model United Nations event.

To see a bit of what your child might expect at a SAAC tournament, please watch this track and field, cross country, and basketball video from Quito, Ecuador from April 2018:



We are confident that Graded’s participation in the SAAC and restructured Big Four and Big Eight Tournaments will be a true enhancement to our High School athletics offerings. As we approach our centennial and the opening of our new, state-of-the-art Athletics Center, Graded continues to strive for excellence in all aspects of the student experience.

Go Eagles!

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