Middle School News
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.
1. You studied visual arts at Belas Artes and then took a post-grad course in art history at Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (FAAP). What led you to teaching?
Art was something I discovered by doing. I had always loved doing art, but I didn’t know I loved teaching it until I started volunteering at my sons’ Montessori school in the US when we lived there. It came naturally to me, and I felt I had found my passion! Once back in Brazil, I volunteered at Graded, and this confirmed what I had discovered in the US — that I really enjoy teaching and, at the same time, learning from my students. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
2. You started the Hearty Bowl Project several years ago. What is it?
I came up with the idea for Hearty Bowls after visiting ACTC – the Casa do Coração, an institution that supports young children and their families during their treatment for heart disease. There are similar projects around the world, but I adapted the Hearty Bowl idea to fit our needs. For three years now, the Graded community has been spending part of the year creating and decorating ceramic bowls. We then organize an event at which a variety of soups is served in these bowls. When you buy a ticket for the event – for which we receive amazing donations of soups, desserts, music, and decorations – you can choose a bowl to eat your soup in, and you keep the bowl when the meal is over. We donate all proceeds from the event to ACTC, and the project has become a great opportunity to bring the community together to help a good cause. Parents, teachers, administrators, and friends make bowls during students’ classes, after school, or on Saturday afternoons. At the same time, they’re helping a great cause. It’s wonderful to see members of the Graded community relax, learn something new, and interact with different people.
3. What is something about yourself that you’d like to change, but you suspect you probably won’t?
I need to learn how to say no, because too many times I get overloaded and overwhelmed. The problem is that I enjoy it!
4. You have been teaching at Graded for more than 30 years, in all levels from Pre-primary through High School. What’s the most interesting aspect of teaching art to Upper School students?
I love to see the students’ satisfaction in creating something new, discovering a new talent that they did not know they had, or finishing a work of art and feeling proud of what they have just created. I really enjoy talking about their work with them.
5. What’s your strongest sense?
I’m a good listener. I like to listen to people’s stories, and I do it with a real interest, which makes them feel comfortable talking and sharing with me many different aspects of their personal lives.
6. You were one of the founders of FALA. What is FALA and why was it so important to you for many years?
I have always liked to do community service and get involved in social work, and FALA is a good example of that. FALA started much smaller and was very different from what it is nowadays. There was a small group of High School students who were the teachers, and we just coordinated the program and helped the student teachers plan their lessons. It was very basic at first. We would go to different communities and teach in the living room of someone’s house or at a small center, very informally. We never knew exactly who would show up to go with us and who would attend the classes. As the program grew and needed more structure, we began to bring our outside students to Graded. I spent 12 years working with FALA, and it was really satisfying to see the project develop and grow, as well as see our Graded students commit to and care for their FALA students.
7. What one new thing did you learn in the last week?
Last week, I tried a new recipe for chocolate pudding that I made for my grandchildren who were visiting from Canada.
8. Do you have a favorite painting or drawing? What makes it special to you?
I love Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. His passion and talent are inspiring!
9. What is a favorite memory of your grandparents?
Sunday lunch at their house! My grandfather had an Italian background and my grandmother always made us amazing meals! We also got to see our cousins and it was always fun – loud, happy, and festive.
10. What is your favorite thing about Graded?
The Lemann-Tully Arts Center is amazing, and the people I work with, both students and teachers, truly inspire me. I’ve been working at Graded for more than 30 years, and it feels like home. That’s special!
by Angela Park, Communications Associate
Clad in professional business attire, delegates type furiously as they listen to the speaker behind the podium. Not one word is missed. The silence is only broken when the floor is open for questions.
Model United Nations, commonly referred to as MUN, is an extracurricular activity that simulates the eponymous global organization, helping students to learn about contemporary issues, think critically, and develop diplomacy skills. Students represent different countries through committees that discuss controversial political, social, and/or economic issues.
At Graded, MUN membership is currently comprised of 30 High School students and 35 Middle School students. The club is led by Middle School Humanities Teacher Katie Accomazzo and Upper School Brazilian Social Studies Edú Levati.
Each week, both the High School and Middle School teams meet to train in parliamentary procedure, write positions papers, and draft resolutions.
“I remember the first time I went to an MUN meeting [in the sixth grade],” reflected Gianluca S., a junior and MUN Leadership Team member. “I couldn’t really believe people my age were capable of such dynamic conversations.”
For junior and Leadership Team member Alyssa T., MUN allows students to gain greater awareness of global issues and a “deeper understanding of other countries’ and your own country’s points-of-view.”
Throughout the years, Alyssa has also overcome her bashfulness, improved her public speaking, and displayed exceptional leadership skills by organizing the Middle School’s MUN Conference.
“Our focus is to build a program that is student-focused so that it can be sustainable in the future.” According to Ms. Accomazzo, MUN also helps students gain impressive speaking and listening skills, look for critical solutions, collaborate with others, identify fallacious reasoning, articulate the lack of credibility in reasoning, and learn to build strong, plausible arguments.
“Students also learn to have empathy,” added Mr. Levati. “You often represent a country other than your own, and have to understand, empathize and advocate for a country whose position regarding different issues you don’t necessarily agree with.”
In a nutshell, students learn to advocate their ideas efficiently and, as Ms. Accomazzo nicely summarizes, “achieve greatness with humility.”
. . .
At Graded, members take part in Graded Model United Nations (GMUN), São Paulo Model United Nation (SPMUN), Brazil Model United Nations (BRAMUN), and now, the internationally renowned Ivy League Model United Nations Conference (ILMUNC).
At the beginning of this month, 19 members of the club traveled to the University of Pennsylvania to participate in ILMUNC, where 2,000 high school students from all over the globe gathered together for three days to debate issues.
Students were impressed with the high level of expertise and professionalism of MUN teams from other schools in the world. “When you are in an environment where people are so driven, in order to compete with them, you need to work harder than them or never stop working,” asserted Gianluca. “It is great opportunity to learn about the real world.”
In March, some members of the high school MUN club will be traveling to Bahia to participate in the national level at BRAMUN, where they will put their diverse abilities to work.
“All in all, they [students] are developing highly transferable skills that will prepare them at an international level for the future,” Mr. Levati affirmed.