Lower School News
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!
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.
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!
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.