Through strong leadership, the Board has secured a competitive position for Graded over the past two hiring cycles. We regularly index our standing against worldwide and local competitors to ensure we can attract and retain the very best faculty. I can confidently tell you, even during these tremendously challenging economic times, Graded has maintained its competitive advantage. In fact, in many ways, we have advanced our position in the global market. Graded is the jewel of Latin America and one of the world’s top international schools. Much of its sterling reputation rests upon the depth of its faculty. Time and time again, as I attend recruiting fairs, Graded has many more candidates interested in our school than we can possibly accommodate. Because the demand is strong, we can be selective.
The pursuit of the world's best educators is, indeed, challenging. However, it is arguably the single most important task I perform as superintendent at Graded. I have spoken on many occasions about the crucial role teachers play in students’ lives. When we look at teacher recruitment through the lens of our new mission statement, it becomes even more critical that we are able to recruit educators who have not only tremendous depth of knowledge and skill in their content areas, but are inspirational, relationship-oriented, driven people who will maximize every opportunity they have with our students, your children.
The hiring process is part science, part art -- mixed with a dab of intuition. For those of you who hire executives and managers, you, too, know the challenge of finding people who are the right organizational “match.”
So how do we do it?
First, we begin by clearly identifying who we are as a school. The principals and I sit together and craft our ideal candidate profile. We ensure that new educators will achieve synergy with our existing faculty. The goal here is to build and add value to the existing team. Collaboration is essential in education. We want best practices to spread through campus quickly from classroom to classroom and teacher to teacher. This cooperation only happens with teachers who are interested, confident, and willing to share and grow.
Second, we spend time, lots of time, reviewing candidates’ résumés, cover letters, and philosophy statements. Eighteen new teachers will join us at Graded in July as a result of the most recent recruiting season.
Third, we are aggressive early in the hiring season. We begin interviewing in October, while many international schools around the world are still determining their job openings. We can do this because our departing faculty members inform us early in the school year, enabling us to go out and find the best talent. By hiring early, we get a first look at the market and can secure top-tier candidates before other schools are in a position to compete.
Fourth, we speak directly to our existing faculty and seek recommendations. A strong endorsement from an excellent staff member speaks loudly. We know our teachers want to add outstanding educators to our faculty and partner with the best.
Finally, when we interview, we tailor our questions not only to teaching but to what teaching looks like at Graded. We discuss our values, our vision, and why we serve our students. We talk specifically about relationship-building and connections. We inquire about candidates’ ability to inspire and challenge students and ask for real-life examples.
Once our hiring process has been completed, we begin our onboarding process. Here, we also shine. Graded takes extraordinary care in the transitioning our new faculty. As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. These small, but pivotal, steps help us build longevity among our faculty. The longer we keep our faculty, the greater the possibility for more profound relationships and learning at Graded.
In some ways, the hiring process is year-round and ongoing. There is nothing more inspiring to me than finding exceptional teachers. In fact, this has happened eighteen times since October 2016. We are strongly positioned for the 2017-18 school year, and I can’t wait for you to meet our newest, most talented Graded teachers.
Onward and upward,
As part of our health education program, we have invited prevention specialists from Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) Prevention Works, a division of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, to visit our school. FCD is a non-profit organization that provides alcohol, tobacco, and other drug education to schools and colleges worldwide. They will be on campus from March 27 to March 30.
FCD prevention specialists recognize that students make their own decisions about alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drug use, but present the most up-to-date information available on the physiological and psychological effects of various drugs, and provide a forum for discussing social, cultural, and personal issues that relate to the choices people make.
One thing that makes FCD unique is that all of the prevention specialists have achieved long-term recovery from alcohol or other drug addictions. Most FCD prevention specialists began their own drinking and drug use during middle school and high school. They have experienced the pressures, personal issues, and social situations teens face with regard to alcohol and other drug use. They also have first-hand knowledge of the destructive aspects of drug use and how occasional use, in their cases, led to addiction.
FCD believes in educating the whole school community, not just students. There will be educational sessions for teachers and for parents on Tuesday, March 28 at 7:00 pm in the Auditorium.
Developing strong readers has been one of our main goals in the Lower School (LS) for the 2016-17 school year. We want our students to be passionate about reading and be empowered by what they read. In July, prior to the beginning of the school year, our LS team started with a week of professional training in the Columbia Teachers College reading workshop model. This training was chosen to build on the writing workshop we prioritized in the 2015-16 school year. During our time together, we had two consultants come in to work with our staff. They assisted us in a variety of ways. First, we examined our current reading assessments and thought critically about how we interpret them for whole class, small group, and individual instruction. We also observed a number of different instructional strategies to help us determine successful methods of differentiation to meet the needs of our diverse range of learners. This in-depth and deliberate focus allowed us to learn about current, research-based best practices in reading instruction. It also helped us align our work as a Lower School.
During the past two weeks, our teachers have continued our reading professional development through a lab site. A lab site involves teachers attending sessions to learn more about using the data from our assessments to guide instruction, observing different instructional strategies, implementing those strategies while being observed, receiving feedback from peers, and, finally, reflecting on the practice through the creation of a plan to move forward. This work takes some time to complete. Consequently, we have had consultant support for the past two weeks.
You may ask, “Why the focus on reading?” We know our students need to be strong readers to be successful in school. Children are constantly reading, whether it be written text or the signs they see around them. Our students also need strong reading skills to be successful in every subject at school. When solving a work problem in math or completing research about a scientific discovery, our students are constantly reading in one form or another. The better we can assist them in recognizing themselves as readers, as well as having them identify strengths and areas for growth, the more successful they will be as their reading demands become more complex.
How can you support your child with reading at home? Let your child know you as a reader. Read in front of your child. Explain what you like to read now and what you enjoyed reading as a child. Create a consistent time for everyone in the family to read and have follow-up discussions about what everyone is reading. Make sure you read aloud to children frequently in addition to having them read to you. Emphasize how you read throughout your day wherever you are. Finally, ensure there are many books available in your home for everyone to read. Please feel free to stop by the LS Library to browse our wonderful collection of books. For additional resources to support family reading at home, click here.
We are very proud to unveil Graded’s new Mission, Vision, and Core Values to our community. After initial meetings with members of every stakeholder group -- parents, students, alumni, faculty and staff, administration, and board members -- we embarked upon a four-month, collaborative process to create language that reflects both the community we are and the one we strive to be.
In developing our new Mission, Vision, and Core Values, community members reviewed Graded’s existing mission and core values; examined educational and industry identity statements; and discussed “key words” that represent Graded. Keeping our K3-12 audience in mind, we made sure that the language was clear, concise, and accessible. We developed it to be easily understood and recalled, and to focus on the “whole child.”
As you can see from the images, we have chosen to very publicly communicate our new Mission, Vision, and Core Values. We took time on Tuesday, as an entire school, in every classroom, and with every employee to discuss the meaning behind our new statements. We hope that your child is able to communicate with you about their experience in performing this exercise and to share how they will personally be impacted by this work.
In consideration of EVERY CHILD,
When I interviewed for my job as Chief Development Officer at Graded, I was struck by two things -- the warmth of the Graded community and how the infrastructure did not mirror the school’s top-notch academic reputation. “We’re working on that,” Superintendent Rich Boerner assured me, as he unrolled large campus plans. Then he threw me a hard hat and led me on a tour of the Graded Campus Project. I was impressed.
A History Lesson
Graded was founded in 1920 and moved to its current Morumbi location in 1960. Fifty-five years ago, the campus was surrounded by bucolic pastures. In 1977, a growing Graded community inaugurated the Lower School campus, a Brutalist architectural labyrinth. Then in 2004, the impressive Lemann-Tully Arts Center opened, replete with black box theater, individual music practice spaces, and a ceramics studio.
Graded Students, 1964
Graded Campus Project
In 2010, with aging facilities, the school embarked upon a multi-year process of campus renewal and improvement, and the Graded Campus Project was born. The Board envisioned facilities that reflected Graded’s academic excellence. Graded hired H2L2, a company specializing in international school design, to develop a master plan for our facilities. Zanettini, a renowned architectural firm, then created detailed architectural specifications based upon the overall master plan. In conjunction with Hochtief, one of Brazil’s leading construction companies, Graded created a strategic implementation approach.
In February 2014, Graded unveiled Phase I of the Campus Project, including a full renovation of the Lower School playgrounds and gymnasiums.
On September 1, 2015, the school began its second stage of construction. Fourteen months later, on time and on budget, we are placing the finishing touches on this project. Phase II encompasses a new main school entrance, student center, 450-space parking garage, athletics fields, beach volleyball court, track, bleachers, wellness gymnasium, and maintenance building.
Graded Campus Project, Phase II
AC in all Classrooms
Beginning in January, Graded will undergo an Academic Infrastructure Improvement Project to update and modernize campus learning spaces. Enhancements include air conditioning in all classrooms, new hallway flooring, hallway and garden lighting, and remodeling of science laboratories.
Why Tuition Does Not Pay for a Swimming Pool
You may be surprised to learn that tuition at Graded funds only the school’s operating costs; not capital building projects. In fact, faculty and staff salaries and benefits alone represent 83% of the school’s operating budget. While the school could increase tuition to cover capital expenditures, it is sensitive to the challenges that an increased tuition would place upon families. At Graded, we strive to maintain economic, as well as, cultural diversity. Therefore, we must find alternative ways to pay for construction.
In 2011, Graded launched a campaign to raise money for the Graded Campus Project. Then in 2014, the effort was rolled into the “Centennial Campaign,” a drive to support three key long-term strategic priorities -- the Graded Campus Project, the Graded Scholar Program Endowment, and the Excellence in Teaching Endowment. Centennial Campaign support from both individual and corporate donors has been inspiring. Their generosity has allowed Graded to successfully complete Phases I and II of our ambitious Graded Campus Project.
The Athletics Center
If you have been to a basketball game at Graded recently, you may have noticed that the gymnasium has seen better days. A state-of-the-art athletics facility will enable the school to enhance our delivery of a balanced and integrated education, while fostering leadership and teambuilding skills among our student athletes.
Athletics Center Swimming Pool, Opening August 2018 (Pending Funding)
Athletics Center Tennis Court, Opening August 2018 (Pending Funding)
Athletics Center Gymnasium, Opening August 2018 (Pending Funding)
A Transformative Gift
Philanthropist, five-time Brazilian national tennis champion, and Graded grandparent Jorge Paulo Lemann recently committed R$12M, a transformative gift which, along with community support, will make our Athletics Center a reality. “I am happy to contribute to Graded’s new Athletics Center,” Lemann wrote, “as I believe it will make Graded even stronger and its students more successful in life. Athletics have played a significant role in my life. Sports develop discipline, teamwork, and risk-taking. They teach one how to lose and learn from it. All of these qualities are essential as young people mature.”
Jorge Paulo Lemann
Graded Grandfather and Campus Project Supporter
The Graded ChallengeIn order to break ground on our new Athletics Center in June 2017 and open the facility to the Graded community in August 2018, we need to secure R$9M in additional philanthropic commitments by June 2017. Multiple naming opportunities are available. Please join Jorge Paulo Lemann in his unwavering support of Graded. To discuss how you can help invest in Graded’s future, please contact me at:
+55 11 3747 4800 Ext. 139
Dear Graded Community,
It is hard to believe that we have already entered our second quarter at Graded. In my first Gazette article of the year, I referred to Graded’s four pillars -- Academics, Arts, Athletics, and Service.
In this edition, we are highlighting the arts at Graded, by providing you with a glimpse into the Visual Arts and Theater Departments. Lower School Art Teacher Cristiane Almeida writes about students exploring and engaging with art through the choice-based art method. High School Visual Arts Teacher Amanda York’s article addresses experiential learning -- a field trip to the 32nd São Paulo Bienal, one of the most important art events in Brazil, and how it generates a rich, ongoing dialogue about the concept and the purpose of art itself. Upper School Theater Teacher Emily Grimes talks about the wide range of theater initiatives at the school and their impact on Graded students. Middle School Humanities Teacher Yarrow Ülehman and Middle School Multimedia Teacher Jennifer Kagohara portray their amazing project, which encourages students to explore their own identities through photography.
At Graded, we believe in the power of an arts education to broaden a student’s perspective and foster critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. I hope that you enjoy learning more about the arts at Graded.
“The result of art education is not the painting. It is the student.” Lois Hetland
This year in the elementary art room, the “Teaching for Artistic Behavior” method is being fully implemented. The method is best known as choice-based art, and as the name says, it consists of offering studio art options to students. The room is set up in centers, opened one at a time. Some basic centers such as drawing, painting, collage, clay, fiber, and sculpture will remain in the classroom all year, while others such as printing, masks, puppets and photography make brief, limited appearances.
Each class starts with a demonstration, a conversation about an art concept, or a presentation of an artist or artistic movement. After the demonstration or class discussion, students get to work. They can choose to work on the newly demonstrated project or to develop their own ideas at one of the centers. Through the experience of designing their own projects, students learn to be creative thinkers who know how to organize themselves and plan things out. Students working on pieces that they care about are more invested in their work. They learn to appreciate diverse skill sets and differences by seeing the many projects around them.
The role of the teacher in a choice-based art room is to constantly monitor students, asking them to persevere and see things through to the end, making sure that everyone is trying new things and pushing themselves to learn more. Students who come without an idea work on the newly demonstrated activity. In sports and music, there are practices times. In art, there are practice pieces used to experiment with media and ideas, so that when students are ready to make finished pieces, they work with focus and intent. When they care deeply about what they create, students are willing to give it the time that it deserves, often over the course of multiple class periods.
At certain times of the year, students are given assignments. Assignment days help students develop a specific skill. They might be given a prompt to explore in a certain medium. Art assignments are open-ended.
Although the finished product may not be as “adult-pleasing” as teacher-directed projects, students who explore their own ideas, learn more about what the materials can or cannot do. Rather than follow a teacher recipe for artwork that is supposed to look a certain way, they test their own hypotheses. As a result, students engage much more deeply with their learning.
IB Visual Arts students at the 32nd São Paulo Bienal, September 15th.
Photo: Henrique Montesanti.
“How do you define art, Ms.York?”
“Ahh, the age-old question,” I mused momentarily before responding: “How do you define art?”
“Action with intention,” declared the student with enviable certainty.
We discussed this for a time, applying it to different scenarios. Meanwhile, classmates offered up their own definitions, breaking from studio work intermittently to agree or disagree, or to ponder aloud their own artistic intentions. When class ended, we were no closer to an answer. It is more important that the question is asked.
While the definition may be fluid, art has always been a reflection of society and a mirror to it: sometimes critical, other times questioning. This is precisely what the theme of the 32nd São Paulo Bienal, Incerteza Viva (Live Uncertainty) endeavours to do, by asking viewers to ponder notions of uncertainty in the world today. When Graded’s IB Art students attended the Bienal this past month, they reflected on the uncertainties in their own lives, as well as “strategies offered by contemporary art to embrace or inhabit [uncertainty].” (1)
Yejin On in front of Ebony G. Patterson’s installation,Da Esquerda Para Direita, 2016. Photo: Nathalia Tone.
Most of the 133 artworks (by 81 artists from 33 countries) were commissioned for the Bienal. Ranging from paintings to videos and installations to earthworks, each artwork presents a unique perspective and approach to the theme of uncertainty. As one student observed: “Human beings don’t like uncertainty; it makes us anxious. But I think that by having the different interpretations, viewers start to recognize uncertainty in everything. It’s a process of acceptance.” In fact, each student came away from the event having made his or her own discoveries, insights, or personal connections with the artwork and ideas encountered there.
“It really expanded my perception of art,” reflected one student on the value of the experience. Others felt validated, remarking that it was, “nice to see ideas or themes [we] have thought about as high school art students, visualized in a professional context.” Students were impressed by the variety of approaches to displaying work, invigorated by innovative uses of traditional media, and inspired to explore new art forms.
For some, the Bienal prompted further questions about the nature of art itself, and the creation and interpretation of meaning: “To what extent is an artist truly able to convey a particular message, in the face of ideas imposed on the artwork by an audience?” and “To what extent is art created to fit a need?”
IB Junior students Gabriela Lati and Isabel Haegler respondingto the exhibition in their Visual Journals. Photo: Nathalia Tone
Senior IB Art student Henrique Montesanti acknowledges that he enjoys the uncertainty in process and outcome, when creating his line compositions. Despite attempts to control placement and direction, small imperfections in the hand drawn lines accumulate and, like a ripple in water, change the course of the drawing process, which takes on a life of its own.
Henrique Montesanti, pen on paper, 2016 (40 x 50 cm).
Photo: Henrique Montesanti
Classmate Subin Jeon also recognizes a strong connection between the Bienal theme and her own artwork. She explores the liminality—characterized by ambiguity and disorientation—where cultures, languages, or identities converge, by giving visual expression to Korean words with no English equivalents. In a situation where spoken language leads to uncertainty, art presents strategies for clarifying meaning lost in translation.
Subin Jeon, 미련 (Milyeon), 2016, mixed media (wire, lacquer, twig), 33 x 10 x 7.5 cm. Photo: Subin Jeon.Milyeon: A lingering affection/attachment to a point when one should let go; reluctance to give something up.
I encourage my students to ask questions—challenging and difficult ones—about art, about themselves, about the world we live in. But, as art students engrossed in the creative process, I also want them to feel comfortable in the presence of uncertainty. As the curators of the Bienal explain: “Uncertainty in art points to creation, taking into account ambiguity and contradiction. Art feeds off chance, improvisation, and speculation.” (2)
While I’m not sure that any of us is closer to finding a satisfactory definition for art, our field trip to the Bienal continues to feed that dialogue. It is certain, however, that these students are becoming more comfortable with the role that uncertainty plays in creativity and art making, and the expression of possibility it gives to their lives.
(1) Wall text, Incerteza Viva, Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, São Paulo, Brazil.(2) Alves, Lisa. (2016, September 17). “Uncertainty Reigns at the the 32nd São Paulo Art Bienal”, The Rio Times. Retrieved from http://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/rio-entertainment/uncertainty-reigns-at-the-32nd-sao-paulo-Bienal/#.
Wandering backstage this past Monday, I encountered thirty jittery, yet energetic, Upper School students engaged in the process of preparing for their performance. Despite having led the students to this point, I found myself watching in awe as students took ownership of their individual roles in the production. Here are some of the things I saw:
Actors helping one another with putting the finishing touches on their costumes while running lines one last time.
The Stage Manager working with the Lighting and Sound Board Operators to clarify recent changes in cues to make sure the timing was spot-on.
Backstage Crew Members reviewing their pre-show checklist, making sure all set pieces and props were in the proper places and ready to go.
IB students leading vocal and physical warm-ups for younger students for whom this was their first time performing.
The Backstage Manager organizing her peers and reminding them that they had 15 minutes to “places”.
Theater is not a solitary activity; collaboration and trust are integral in the success of any production. Each member of the team has a specific role in the production, all of which are significant to the success of the show. As a team, we rely on one another to bring all the pieces together to create one complete production.
Throughout my years as a director, I have been amazed by the ability of theater to bring out a true sense of purpose and responsibility in all of my students. Augusto Boal, Brazilian theater director, politician and founder of the “Theater of the Oppressed” movement, once said, “We must all do theater, to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.” In other words, theater pushes us out of our comfort zones and allows us the opportunity to not only challenge our own identities but also ponder realities different from our own. For me, this is the power of theater, especially in education.
At Graded, it is my aspiration that each and every student from Pre-K to 12th grade is impacted in some way by theater — whether by watching a preview performance, stepping onto the stage for the very first time, or participating in a full two-year IB course. I hope you and your family members are actively involved in viewing, writing, rehearsing, and performing onstage. If not, please read on to find out what’s happening in the Theater Department:
Last spring, we started something new…a performance festival! We strive for the festival to be the outlet that encourages and empowers our students to try out new roles in performances. Our second festival this past week brought authentic student work from the classroom to the stage, including work showcased from English, Music, Dance, and Theater classes. Expect more growth and creativity, as we expand the festival to include a wider range of performers and performances, featuring those within the Graded community and other local international schools.
Upper School students must audition to be cast in the mainstage performances each semester. Rehearsing after school, these productions highlight the growing passion for theater at Graded. First semester, expect a straight play, followed by a musical in the second semester. Join us on November 9 & 10 for our upcoming show “Hoodie” & “Dear Chuck,” which examines the difficulty teens encounter while trying to find their way.
Open to all Upper School students, students gather each Monday afternoon in the Black Box for dramatic fun! Run by student leaders, the group is dedicated to bringing the love of theater to the Graded Community. Next semester, student leaders have committed learning the art of clowning to bring joy into lives of others, specifically in partnership with Casa de Maria Helena Paulina Cancer Shelter.
Drama & Theater Courses
In grades 6-12, students are offered a wide range of elective courses from Acting to Stagecraft. These courses allow students the opportunity to immerse themselves and develop their understanding of the subject in a safe and supportive environment.
This year, IB Theater returned to the Graded curriculum. This two-year course allows students an in-depth practical study of theatrical artists and theories on par with college level courses. Students must take on the creative roles of director, actor, and designer while applying analysis and research to their work. Students are expected to create and perform a wide range of work.
There has been a great interest to have elementary students take to the stage. Luckily, we are excited to have administrative support to put on an elementary show this year during the 2nd semester. Stay tuned!
Thank you for your continuous support of the ARTS @ Graded. See you at the show!
Jennifer Kagohara, Middle School Multimedia Teacher
Yarrow Ülehman, Middle School Humanities Teacher
"I learned a lot of things about myself and how to show the world who I really am through pictures" - Isabella McGhee
In Digital Art, a new elective co-taught by Ms. Kagohara and Ms. Ülehman, students were guided through the artistic process this quarter, exploring the many layers of their personal identity to create a self-portrait series. Over the course of the project, students transformed their simple portrayals of hobbies or objects into deeply meaningful photographs that relate to their personal middle school experience. These inquiries required a sense of trust and willingness to risk looking below the surface at a time in their development when they are still defining who they are and who they want to be.
This project was designed to help students identify, and explore the layers of their personal identity, in order to articulate how they contribute to their community and how the world impacts them. We aimed to delve into photography as a powerful art form and guide students to realize how critical and communicative we can be through digitally manipulated art.
Kotoha Kudo "Inside my Walls" 2016 wrote in her artist statement "...I decided to show who I am on the inside. The person that lives inside me; serious, fragile, pressured, deaf of judgment, and valuing communication." In this photo, she communicated a poignant message related to the pressure that she feels to "measure-up" and how that relates to her cultural identity.
Students first analyzed and critiqued self-portraits by both photographers and other visual artists, ranging from Cindy Sherman to Basquiat, seeking to find the intent and power in creating an image of one's self. Students were asked to identify and describe different layers of their identity: personal, relational, and cultural/social. They had opportunities to discuss the positive ways labels can help us feel a sense of community or belonging, but how these can also can have a darker side.
Aleena Nasruddin "We Can Do It, Too" 2016 explored themes of feminism and the labels that are placed upon women in the modern world. In her artist statement she wrote, "Even though I feel proud of who I am, sometimes I feel like I have to act a certain way or dress a certain way to fit in." In this photo, she alluded to the WWII icon, "Rosie the Riveter," as well as her Muslim background, stating, "Muslim women can do it, too."
Students grappled with identifying "who they are" and sharing personal feelings and experiences in a class setting. However, the final project demonstrated that, for many of our students, the opportunity to share their vision of who they perceive themselves to be and to explore narratives of how others see them was powerful, enlightening, and in some instances, even cathartic.
Thomas Alves "Burning Inside" 2016 demonstrated vulnerability and strength, as he explored the masks people wear to hide their inner feelings and the effect judging others can have. In his artist statement he wrote, "I want to show that when you talk about someone else, you can be burning him inside."
At Graded, our arts teachers design projects that push students to engage in meaningful inquiry to produce thought-provoking art. We have a desire to empower and engage students in the art world and have a responsibility to mentor and support students in the process of self-expression. We chose to design Digital Art in a way that required students to be involved, to convey meaning, to express something, personal or not, to make an statement, to encourage them to work outside their comfort zone, to encourage them to see the world and express what they think of it rather than dictate what is right and wrong. This is what the Identity Project did. It involved delivering content through art, where the content is meaningful, the skills are solid and evaluated, and the outcome transforms both teacher and student.
I write to you in transit to Miami, Florida, joined by a Graded Board member, to attend the Association of American Schools in South America (AASSA) Annual Governance Conference. While travel can be exhausting, one aspect I do enjoy is the opportunity to disconnect from the daily pressures of work and take time to do a bit of personal reflection. As I do just this during my first flight, I recall my childhood and the influential people in my life -- particularly those teachers who imprinted my life for the good. As I think of them, I wonder now why they were chosen to teach over others, and why I was lucky enough to have them teach me. That, of course, takes me to the present and underscores the importance we must place at Graded in finding tremendously talented teachers who teach to the mind and to the heart. If we can’t capture an adolescent’s heart, we won’t be able to impact the mind nearly as much. So, how do we do this?
One of my favorite questions to ask candidates who are applying for teaching positions is “Describe a recent moment when you were a CHAMPION for a child?” This question really sums up why we do what we do. We, as educators, are in an incredibly powerful position to positively shape young minds and, in partnership with parents, help, guide, and develop students into productive, ethical, happy, and successful young adults. At Graded, we are deeply focused on developing and enhancing the student-teacher relationship. If you have had the opportunity to attend any number of my “Coffee with the Superintendent” presentations, you have undoubtedly heard me speak to this.
Being a CHAMPION for a child means knowing that child, truly knowing them as an individual, and taking a personal interest and care in their success. This can be accomplished in many ways - by challenging a student to rise above a certain level of achievement or to encourage them to take a risk and participate for the first time in a school play. It can also be as simple as putting an arm around a child who is sad, hurt, or discouraged or greeting every child at the classroom door with a high five and asking each student, “How I can help you be a success today?”
Achievement lies in the hands of our students, and it is their responsibility to make the most of the gifts they have. However, if we leave it simply at that, we are missing an incredibly powerful connection. Teachers are the motivators, encouragers, challengers, and enthusiasts who help squeeze out the best in children. Each one is, indeed, a CHAMPION.
At all divisions within our school, we are making strides to strengthen the connections between our teachers and your children. It’s really about teaching the WHOLE child. Students are more than intellectual beings whose heads we open and pour in information. They need shaping, critical thinking skills, the ability to discern for themselves, discussion, and debate. They also need to be empowered, challenged, and loved.
I firmly believe that as we enhance the personal care of our students, we will see their achievement grow and their desire increase. As a result, we will help develop young people who have the intangible tools to be successful in all aspects of their balanced lives.
I hope you see this taking place at Graded. I do on a daily basis. In fact, I encourage you to ask your children if they have a CHAMPION at school. Our desire is for every child to know there is at least one teacher -- ideally many -- who is present in their life to personally help them to reach their true potential. Our teachers are committed, caring educators, and I am proud to work side by side with them in making a difference for every individual student. While we have 1,238 students on our campus each day, we focus on them one at a time.
I also encourage you to be that same CHAMPION for your child. Together, we certainly have more collective ability to support, guide, and shape them. During the upcoming parent-teacher conferences, I encourage you to engage in a conversation with your child’s teachers about the entirety of their school experience. Discover how your child learns best, is motivated, and achieves, as it all works hand-in-hand together. I look forward to sharing the many successes of our students with you throughout the year.
In celebration of our students,Richard Boerner
Brazilian Independence Day at Graded is associated with the celebration of Brazilian culture in a fun-loving way. On September 6, our PTA put together an amazing exhibit. It showcased the value of the multitude of stories and memories of those who came from different countries, bringing their cultures and their experiences to Brazil. The story of every immigrant and every refugee starts with leaving and loss; they search for a different life, and they bring hopes and dreams to a new land.
We were able to learn so much about the influences of many different cultures and languages in Brazil during that week. There are over 200 languages in this multicultural country. There are more than 180 indigenous languages, 2 sign languages (LIBRAS and Língua de Sinais Kaapor Brasileira), and more than 40 different languages from various parts of the world. Brazilian Portuguese is filled with words, rhythms, and flavors from different cultures.
Maya Angelou says, “... in diversity there is beauty and strength,” and what a great opportunity we all have to allow this diversity to enrich us.
During our Lower School assemblies, Grupo Parampará explored various rhythms and stories from different places around the world with audience participation.
In our Upper School assemblies, we showcased Yannick Delass and the group Les Serges. Yannick is a Congolese and Sao Tomean composer, singer, and guitarist who had the audience sing and harmonize with him in Lingala. Christof Hidalgo, Franck Oberson, Javier Ibanez, and Egimar Alves are part of the Les Serges band, which also had the audience singing and moving to an amazing beat, both in French and Creole.
The “Museu da Imigração do Estado de São Paulo” is a wonderful place to explore this theme even further. http://museudaimigracao.org.br/o-museu/sobre/
The following are links to the groups that presented at the assemblies:
Grupo Parampará http://www.grupopranayama.com.br/
Yannick Delass https://www.facebook.com/Yannick-delass-128037030693059/
Opening our hearts and connecting to different cultures, languages, rhythms, and flavors allows us to realize that there are many people who wish for a more just and humane world. “We have the right to be equal whenever difference diminishes us, and we have the right to be different whenever equality de-characterizes us” (Boaventura de Sousa Santos).
"Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” --Dalai Lama
Graded’s Classroom Without Walls (CWW) trips extend students’ academic skills to authentic, real-life situations through a series of academic, social, and interpersonal learning experiences occurring outside a traditional classroom setting. Learning about symbiotic relationships, indigenous cultures, ocean swells, the biodiversity of the rainforest, or the effects of erosion in a classroom setting is valuable. However, to make these lessons memorable and formative in the long term, there needs to be an experience attached to the idea. There exists a wealth of research that champions the importance of learning in context: learning by doing rather than observing. By actually exploring a cathedral, cavern, or rural community, students will experience higher levels of action, collaboration, and reflection in their learning. Some students will experience puppet-making and stone-carving, while others will ride a boat through a river community. Some will traverse the Mata Atlântica, while others will explore historic gold mines. Some will ramble through the installations and gardens of Inhotim, while others will wade waist-deep in cave waters. In addition to an opportunity to bond with their classmates, students will also get to see Brazil through a new lens and develop an especially keen understanding of what impacts the lives of people and their environments.
We believe that the Graded CWW program enhances the Upper School curriculum by exposing students to new cultures, and academic and personal growth opportunities that cannot be achieved in a regular classroom setting. Each grade level might travel to different destinations, but the program objectives and learning goals are consistent for each trip in the areas of cultural understanding, personal growth, and curriculum enrichment.
To promote an appreciation of cultural understanding, students participate in a number of local activities and interact with residents to understand how life in other parts of Brazil differs from their own experiences. Students may have the opportunity to learn a traditional dance or song or visit a historical site that will help to develop an appreciation for cultural diversity and traditions.
The CWW experience offers the opportunity for students to grow and mature in their interpersonal relationships and to develop a sense of independence through adventure. Traveling challenges students to be responsible and teaches students to step out of their comfort zone. Trip activities are designed to encourage students to build relationships and further develop social skills.
The CWW experience extends the Upper School curriculum and learning objectives outside the walls of Graded. Each destination is truly a classroom without walls, and learning objectives are tied to activities and projects. Trip leaders work with students in small groups and provide prompts throughout the week to challenge students to make connections between the places they visit and their own life experiences.
As we welcome back our trip participants this week, we are excited to hear about the wonderful memories made and to watch the learning and growth that occur as a result of their CWW experiences.
|Marie F. Beardwood joins the Graded community as the Director of Technology Integration. She brings a combination of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) experience, as well as a deep understanding of excellence in teaching and learning to her new role. Marie has worked in various ICT capacities in the public and private, K-12, and higher education sectors. She is also an experienced educator, instrumental in founding the first writing and word processing courses in Rhode Island. In addition, she has authored the curriculum for and ensured the accreditation of an Information Technology High School in a Providence, RI underserved community. Marie has directed a Center for Teaching Excellence, where she brought her classroom expertise to the development of online courses. She has two teaching awards to her credit - one from a private boys’ boarding school and the other from Nichols College (Dudley, MA). Marie holds a B.A. in English/Secondary Education from Rhode Island College and an M.A. from Columbia University Teachers College. In her spare time, she loves swimming, hiking the beaches and kettle ponds of Cape Cod, traveling, and reading. She treasures her vintage jewelry and handbag collection and adores hanging out with her best friend and husband of 32 years, Jim. When she is reincarnated, she wants to come back as a circus clown or a race car driver. She is honored to join the Graded community and looks forward to collaborating with and learning from her new colleagues.
|Susan Clain joins Graded as Chief Development Officer, having worked in the independent school, higher education, and international education realms. Born in South Africa and raised in Rochester, MN, Susan holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University. She has served in chief development and admissions capacities at Tarbut V’Torah (TVT) Community Day School (Irvine, CA) and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in partnership with Tufts University (Boston, MA). Beginning her career in media development, Susan went on to hold administrative roles at EF Education First and the Institute for Shipboard Education's Semester at Sea program. In her free time, she enjoys lyrical modern dance; collecting passport stamps, sea glass, and friends; gardening; doing crossword puzzles; and reading. A social-documentary fine arts photographer, Susan has exhibited her artwork in galleries. She is excited to be at Graded, learn Portuguese, and explore a new culture.|
As we begin our year together, we do so in recognition of our annual theme, “One School...One Community...One Graded”. Throughout this academic year, we are focusing our efforts on ensuring coherence and clarity as both a school and a community. This year, our 96th, marks some exciting milestones that will help us set our clear direction for the future. As such, the Board of Directors will be adopting a new strategic plan called Vision 2020. In creating the strategic plan, we will be seeking the feedback of our community in reviewing our Mission and Core Values and creating a Vision Statement. These anchor documents will be our guide, as we review the effectiveness and qualities of our four pillars - Academics, Arts, Athletics, and Service. Over the coming weeks as we review these important tenets of our school, we will be reaching out to gather your feedback and thoughts.
In addition, our Centennial Fundraising Campaign which provides targeted resources to our Three Major Initiatives – Campus Project, Graded Scholar Program, and Excellence in Teaching – will continue to be refined with clear benchmarks established for each area of need. Community support of our Campus Project has been tremendous, yet we need your continued partnership. We will be completing the construction of our new Parking Lot, Fields, Small Gym, and Student Center in the next two months. Immediately, we will begin to focus our efforts on Part II of the project, the new Athletics Complex, which, when completed, will include a swimming pool, new large gym, fitness center, tennis courts, and yoga studio -- all connected to the new Student Center. These spaces will allow us to expand our programs and offer students an even wider array of courses and opportunities to learn how to lead balanced and healthy lives.
Finally, as we experience the school year together, I hope you will begin to clearly see our efforts to unify the three divisions of our school. The Leadership Team is focused on providing students with clarity of purpose and experience. Moreover, we are committed to ensuring that when students are ready to graduate and pursue higher education, they have the skills and experiences to thrive and succeed.
I am honored to work each day with our talented faculty and serve such wonderful children. I look forward to working closely with you, as we look to the future and build upon the great many strengths Graded has to offer.One School...One Community...One Graded
Education at Graded has always been about more than just academic skills and knowledge. The school culture has always been about educating the whole child. Speak to Graded alumni, and they will tell you that their Graded experience was not only about a rigorous academic program, but also involvement in athletics, co-curricular activities, the arts, and community service. An emphasis on educating the whole child is a hallmark of American education. Even as far back as 1818, Thomas Jefferson cited morals, understanding of duties to neighbors and country, knowledge of rights, and intelligence and faithfulness in social relation as “objects of primary education”.
The Graded Activities Program offers its students the opportunity to participate in a wealth of activities that complement, but are not part of, the regular curriculum. Through the program, students are able to pursue an area of personal interest in a collaborative setting, while building intercultural competence and becoming engaged, ethical citizens. The High School’s Activity Program is intentionally divided into a four-pillar framework which includes Academics and Leadership, the Arts, Athletics, and Service.
Graded offers many opportunities for students to participate in a variety of academic and leadership activities during school and after-school hours. Opportunities such as Student Council, Model United Nations, and Global Issues Network encourage and allow students to interact and build relationships within the school community outside of an academic setting. Research has shown that student participation in academically-related activities enhances intellectual, social, and personal growth.
Part of the Graded experience is the chance to participate in a comprehensive arts program. Whether the area of interest is music, visual arts, or drama, there is a place for students to explore and develop advanced skills and gain a lifelong appreciation of the fine arts. Throughout the year, the campus comes alive as students of all ages perform in concerts, musicals, and stage productions and exhibit their outstanding work in frequent art shows. Our students also travel to local, regional, and international arts festivals. We believe that fine arts are essential to the development of the whole child and that involvement in the arts is a catalyst for skill development in all areas of learning.
Graded also offers a competitive interscholastic athletic program intended to enrich and enhance the educational experience of our students in grades 6 to 12. As one of the pillars of our institution, athletics is an integral part of a well-rounded education. Our athletic community values teamwork, school spirit, and the development of individual skills and self-esteem through training and competition. At Graded, we emphasize not only winning and losing, but meeting the challenges of competition to the best of our ability. We believe coaches are both teachers and role models for our athletes and should, therefore, foster positive attitudes, respect for fair play, and a commitment to lifelong fitness.Lastly, Graded offers an engaging Community Service Program designed to enrich the educational experience of students and assist the community at large in searching for meaningful solutions to social problems. In doing so, it is our mission to create awareness, stimulate reflection, and motivate students to practice citizenship. This program reflects the Graded philosophy that education extends beyond the walls of the classroom and into the community. The program seeks to allow students to test their abilities of affecting change. Students in the three divisions are engaged in Community Service activities. Upper School activities, such as FALA and Bricks, are planned and initiated by advisor-teachers and student-leaders while others, such as Harmony, are initiated and managed by students. Additionally, IB Diploma Program students participate in the CAS Program and benefit from the existing community service projects to fulfill IB requirements for CAS.
I avoided my English requirement until my senior year in college. I suffered through it, not so much because of any legitimate lack of skill or ability, but mostly due to my unfounded fears that I was a poor writer as an English language learner. Procrastinating, ironically, did produce some great benefits – I was exposed to literature that I don’t think I would have appreciated at an earlier age. Emily Dickinson, 19th century American poet, and her concept of time, in particular, stuck with me.
Emily Dickinson wrote, “Forever is composed of nows.” In her poem, she affirms that what is foremost is what we are experiencing in the present moment. The amplitude of the moment is what measures the meaning of life. The idea that time is rooted in the present is powerful. It’s a reminder to live, value, and appreciate each moment. We have memories of the past and an idea, an imagining of the future. However, we only ever experience now.
As we begin the year, I am once again reminded of this concept. It’s what we humbly try to achieve each day in the Middle School -- for students to appreciate and live in the present; to engage fully in what they are doing and what excites and challenges them; not to escape difficulty, but to persevere and learn from it; to value interaction with others and to become aware that how we approach each task and how we treat others now is what will define us later in life.
We live in difficult times. In our unequal and so often distasteful, battle-hardened world, war, misery, and corruption drive inconceivable acts. Politicians breed a level of incivility that is difficult to rationalize. Students are hyperconnected, learning of world events instantaneously on their iPhones or computers; stories are often portrayed in ways that make you wonder if writers and journalists ever realize that an 11 or 12-year-old is making sense of what they are seeing on their screens. When I shared that I was attending the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, the first thing that a student asked was, “Are you scared of a bombing attack?” Such is the world in which we live.
“Forever is composed of nows.” Helping our students learn from the present, the “now,” is our raison d’être, one of our most challenging moral imperatives. It’s perhaps our biggest challenge and opportunity – helping students realize that they are active agents in an ever-changing world. That despite incivility and hatred, they can root their lives in kindness, and that kindness will generate more kindness. That civility transcends incivility. That they don’t have to repeat what they see out in the world, but learn from it and revel instead in their innocence and childish purity.
To that end, as we begin the year in the Middle School, we are focusing both on the mind and heart. We are continually examining essential questions and learning objectives to ensure delivery remains relevant, engaging, and challenging for students, all the while creating safe spaces in which students can ask questions about local and global events. Secondly, we are focusing on character by developing an outstanding advisory program. In small groups, students engage in structured activities and conversation in which they can discuss relevant topics, build communication and conflict resolution skills, develop resiliency, and explore passions.
We want Graded to be a place where every student is known well, where the connection between students and faculty is familial, and where big dreams and aspirations are fulfilled. Success, one child at at time – the effort to meet each child’s needs for social, emotional, and academic growth is ongoing and intentional. Graded’s commitment to progressive education and its student-centered approach meshes perfectly with the unbridled enthusiasm of Middle School students. We care deeply about the success and excellence of every child.
Already, in the short three weeks we have been in school, we have been busy building smooth bridges for our 6th graders and other new students, so that they may enter the complexity of Middle School prepared and with enthusiasm. Classes are well into their first units; a plethora of after-school activities has begun to stretch students in new ways; advisories have explored what it means to be part of a community; assemblies have challenged students’ knowledge about the Olympics; and even lunch time recess has helped students build conflict resolution skills as they embrace the realities of Brazilian soccer (and Pokemon Go). And now, CWW, our Classroom Without Walls trips, is creating excitement and eager anticipation. It has been a joyful start to the year.On behalf of the Middle School Leadership Team, we once again welcome you to the 2016-17 school year and to Graded.
It is hard to believe we are almost a month into our school year! What a busy few weeks it has been. We have seen students enter new classes with eager anticipation, quickly become familiar with routines, and dive into learning. The joy of interacting with children and observing them interact with each other is something educators value every day we go to work.
A strong school community is one that is always seeking to improve its practice. This certainly applies to Graded. Our educators are constantly reflecting upon their instruction and how it impacts student learning. As a school, we are passionate about providing multiple opportunities for students to become aware of themselves as learners. One of our indicators of success is our students’ ability to describe their own learning and growth, as evidenced in the student-led conferences we hold twice a year.
Through research of best practices, we determined that a shift in our writing and reading instruction was necessary to better meet the needs of all our students. Because of this finding, we began to align our literacy program with the Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. We chose the Reading and Writing Project, not only due to the strong results it has shown in other schools, but because it also relates directly to our mission -- to inspire individual excellence in a collaborative setting. Additionally, by design, the program promotes the development of critical thinking, one of Graded’s core values.
Last year, our literacy focus was on improving writing skills. This year, we will continue to refine our writing program. In addition, we are integrating development of reading skills. Students are given opportunities within whole group, small group, and individual classroom settings to practice and refine their proficiency. What does that look like in the classroom? It involves teachers identifying their students’ needs, teaching mini-lessons (specific learning targets are identified), student practice time (when teachers work with small groups or individual students), and conducting “share outs” during which students identify components of the work they have completed. During Open House, some parents asked how they could support literacy at home. There are great resources on the Reading and Writing Project website both for students and families to further practice the skills introduced in class.
As we work on our institutional goals, we appreciate your partnership at home and at school. You can keep up-to-date with what is going on in our classes through our Grade Level Blogs. We will also continue to hold Learning Community Assemblies to provide students with opportunities to share their learning. Each community will have four assemblies during the academic year which you are welcome to attend. If you were at our Open House, you will have noted our desire to invite parent volunteers into our classrooms. Please contact your child’s teacher, if you would like to support our learning environments. Finally, as partners, we encourage you to reach out to us any time. If you have a question about what your child is learning; if you would like support with learning at home; if your child is finding anything about school challenging (whether academically or socially); or if you just want to connect, please do feel free to contact us.
The Lower School Team looks forward to a year of learning and growth with our students and families. Thank you for being our part of our community.
It all began just 180 days ago as we joined our new Graded family. While many things in schools are similar, regardless of where we have lived in the world, so much is different, and excitedly as we have discovered, better in Sao Paulo, in Brazil, and at Graded.
From the first day of the year to today, I have been changed for the better as a person and as an educator. I cannot thank the deeply talented faculty and staff enough for what they do every day to enrich the lives of our kids. As a parent, I get the extra bonus of seeing this through the experiences of my own child. The faculty and staff's hard work, dedication, care, compassion and love for our kids is what makes Graded such a unique school. It's a special place with special people and in the end, people make all the difference.
Throughout this year, I have been challenged to think creatively, solve complex problems, and ...all while keeping a clear focus on our students. I want to thank all of you, parents, for helping me grow. Your ideas, suggestions, and efforts are so valued and have added to making Graded better everyday. Moreover, the time you as parents give to engaging in your children's school life is impressive. Your presence in their activities, your volunteerism in their classrooms and your support of our teachers is greatly appreciated.
Brazil has a way of embracing you and surrounding you with warmth. I have felt that sine the very first day I arrived and it is something that motivates me and encourages me daily. That spirit and energy is infused in our campus every moment of the day. You can feel it and I can tell you, I can truly feel the energy today as kids are bouncing in the hallways ready for their vacation to begin.
I thank you for your belief in Graded and your unending support. We are committed to being better than we are today,tomorrow and everyday after. For those that are leaving Graded for new destinations, know you will be missed. For those returning, I hope you are as excited as I to begin school again next semester.
Enjoy the restful moments of your holiday and congratulations on a successful school year.