November 14, 2016 - Michael Salinger
Associação Escola Graduada de São Paulo
Kurt Vonnegut called it a Karass – a quick Google search turns up this definition: karass: A network or group of people that unknown to them, are somehow affiliated or linked, specifically to fulfill the will of God.
Such is the relationship Sara and I have with educators extraordinaire Rich and Colleen Boerner. One of those just “fall back right where we left off” kinda things nurtured over the last decade where we have worked with them in schools located in Korea, Bangladesh and now Brazil.
We spent two weeks at the Graded American School of Sao Paulo, Brazil writing in classrooms from pre-school through 12th grade. We also did a couple PD sessions for the elementary and upper grades. Colleen wrangled us through the upper grades and Heather – elementary librarian, and no slouch in the writing instruction department herself – guided us through the lower.
All around folks were willing to try the writing strategies we offered and we wrote about varied subject matter during our residency: Apartheid, Macbeth, Fahrenheit 451, personal narrative, and definition poems to name just a fraction. We discussed the subjectivity of metaphor, the escape hatch which revision is – we wrote recipes for treason and sportsmanship alike. We watched a combined performance of the middle and high school thespians as they intertwined two plays with thematic similarities exploring what it means to grow up in the 21st century. One highlight was the scene in which Heather’s husband Chris played a harried parent distraught over his teen son’s seeming incongruous happiness.
We also ate – a lot. Great food and conversation with teachers from the middle and high schools filled our evenings and chance run ins at coffee shops on the weekends made us feel like real compatriots. There were so many welcoming folks we were overwhelmed with hospitality and smothered in traditional Brazilian hugs at every turn. This bustling city of 20 plus million felt like a small close knit village by the time it was the pack up and go home stage of our visit.
This is something we’ve come to expect at International Schools and double so in those where the Boerners land. A community of educators who care bout the future and work diligently to give direction and voice to empathy and learning – but do so with a sense of humor, humility and fun. Obrigado, Graded – obrigado.