Senior Leadership Team’s Special Book Recommendations

April 20, 2021

In April 23rd, we celebrate the World Book Day, a global event created by UNESCO in 1995 to encourage the reading, publishing and copyright of books everywhere. This year the slogan for the date is “Ok. So your next book is…?”.

To help our community pick their next story, we asked our Senior Leadership Team which are their favorite books and why would they recommend it. We have titles for every age, fiction and non-fiction. Let’s keep our reading habits fresh!

Nigel Winnard – Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

A tale of monsters, wild-eyed scientists, thrilling adventures, breathless chase scenes, love and tragedy. Hollywood has visited its pages many times, both seriously (watch Kenneth Branagh’s excellent movie version) and not quite so seriously (Herman Munster!). But no film version has ever managed to capture the power of reading this novel alone on a dark, stormy night…

It’s a novel that I’ve gone back to many, many times and it has taught me a great many things. One of those lessons is that ugliness lies in what people feel, say and do, not in what they look like or how they might appear. And to think that Mary Shelley wrote this incredible novel when she was just 19 years old…

Cody Alton – The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

At the heart, this story is about a person searching for their path in life, or their destiny. In it, a boy named Santiago sets out to find his treasure. This book resonated with me when I first read it as I, like the main character, had left my home and my possessions behind as I set out on my path within international education.

Each person he meets, as well as each triumph and struggle he endures along his path, helps him further understand more about life and his own personal journey. Without giving away too much, your treasure is not always what you think it is at first, and not always where you think you will find it.

Claudia Araya – The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)

This book is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever read. I know that there is a movie and it’s a great one too, but it’s nothing like the book. It is full of beautiful emotion and it’s based on a real-life love story! I remember reading one page at a time when I realized that I was finishing it. I didn’t want it to end!

Cristina Conforto – The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition (Caroline Alexander)

The Endurance is a book that I have read twice, within a 10 year difference, and from time to time I go back to some of the highlights I did while I was reading it.

It recounts one of the last great adventures in the heroic age of exploration. In August 1914, before the outbreak of the First World War, the explorer Ernest Shackelton and a crew of twenty-seven crossed the Atlantic coming from the UK to be the first ones to cross on foot the Antarctic continent. Within 85 miles of their destination, their ship, Endurance, was trapped in the ice pack. It took twenty months until they were rescued. 

Apart from the thrilling story and the amazing pictures taken by the photographer on board, it is a book mostly about courage, leadership, and teamwork in an extremely adverse situation.

Howard De Leeuw – Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way (Ryan Holiday)

Two of the most profound books I have read in the past five years are from Ryan Holiday, entitled Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way. Holiday relies heavily on stoic philosophy to give the reader a practical and helpful approach to the realities of life and the human condition.

I found myself going back and re-reading sections as well as each entire book several times, and the ideas truly fed me in ways that few other books have. These are also some of the few books that I have actually purchased recently in hardcover, after having read them first on my mobile device, thanks to a Seattle Public Library app, which allows me to check books out online and read them for free first.

These hard copy versions did not make it with me to Brazil, and I am looking forward to digging them out of my shipment in Seattle this summer and bringing them back with me, as it is time for me to read them both again. I highly recommend both books to anyone willing to challenge their self-perception and to view the world in a different way!

Emilia Ferreira – The Essentialism (Greg McKeown)

I read The Essentialism two years ago and again in 2020. It was the perfect time to do it again because the book speaks to some of the lessons that I learned with the pandemic and that I will remember for the rest of my life. It talks about “the pursuit of less” and about “distinguishing the vital few from the trivial many”. Choosing to do what really matters is not an easy task, but it is critical that we keep reminding ourselves to focus our time and energy on what is really important in our lives.

Doreen Garrigan – Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (Robert C. O’Brien)

One of my favorite memories from Elementary School is when I read this book. I was fixated on the characters and the way in which the author wove together a storyline with lots of adventure and compassion.

The story is about a group of rats with abnormally high intelligence who live together underground. They are unique rats and prefer to keep it a secret. Mrs. Frisby, a widow mouse, reaches out to them for help when her son becomes extremely ill and consequently discovers their secret. There are heroes and villains in this story and my love for this book has not changed since the year I read it in class. Enjoy!

Scott Little – Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer)

Krakauer’s personal account of the failed 1996 Mount Everest disaster in which 8 climbers were killed was a book that I simply couldn’t put down. The book chronicles the failed mission to reach the summit of the world’s tallest peak and examines what happens when safety methods are compromised in a race to the top between competing guiding teams. If you’re looking for an adventure book, I can’t recommend Into Thin Air “highly” enough.

Carlos Pinho – War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)

At its core War and Peace is a book about people trying to find their footing in a world being turned upside down by war, social and political change, and spiritual confusion. The existential angst of Tolstoy and his characters is entirely familiar to those of us living at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and his novel has important things to say to us in this moment.

Over and over again the book shows how moments of crisis can either shut us down or open us up, helping us to tap into our deepest reservoirs of strength and creativity.

Ana Paula Stadelmann – The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World (Melinda Gates)

“When you lift up women, you lift up humanity.”

I was intrigued to know more about Melinda’s philanthropic pursuits after watching her interview with David Letterman, on Netflix. In this book, she shares not only her own stories and beliefs but the stories of people around the globe who have dared to take steps to change the world.

This is an easy read book with valuable lessons, including how empowering women makes a positive impact in society as a whole. Not surprisingly, inspirational examples of schools, the notion of equal education, and teachers are amongst her stories.

Kirstin White – Maybe the Moon (Frances Ives)

Maybe the Moon by Frances Ives is a book I love sharing with Lower School students! This book has beautiful illustrations and a lovely text. It tells the story of Eric, a little boy who lives in an amazing l forest home, surrounded by animals and natural beauty. Eric loves his home and spends every night gazing up at the sky and thinking about how the moon shines down on him and the forest friends he loves.

One day, Eric’s mother tells him that they are going on an adventure to a new place – the city. Eric feels anxious and needs to find new ways to adapt and find happiness in a strange new environment. He learns many lessons, including how to love the differences between people and places, and most importantly the lesson that no one is never alone when we share the same moon.

I love reading this book with children and classes that are new to EARJ; it helps everyone connect to the idea of adapting to and finding joy in meeting new people and visiting new places.

84 Years Young

March 16, 2021

EARJ is celebrating its 84th anniversary this week with both virtual celebrations and on-campus activities to mark the special occasion. Over the past 84 years, there has been one constant at EARJ: change.

From its humble beginnings in a small house in Ipanema in 1937 to the opening of the Gavea campus in 1971, to the opening of the Barra campus in 2014, this change has been fueled by our goal of providing a world-class education to students and the resulting growth in our student population as we have succeeded in achieving this goal.

Not satisfied to rest on our long list of achievements, we have continued to make school-based decisions based on pedagogical research and best practice to continuously improve. It was with this in mind that EARJ adopted the International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Programme in 1982 at the Gavea campus and was authorized for the IB Diploma Programme at the Barra Campus in 2019. Most recently, EARJ has become an IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) candidate school for the 2020-21 school year and will become a candidate school for the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for the 2021-22 school year.

While our earlier developments might be described as evolutionary in nature, these recent curricular changes in becoming authorized as an IB continuum school are truly transformative. Our adoption of an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning will take the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of our students to a new level and will ultimately lead them to some of the highest-ranking universities around the world.

So that brings us up to date on the changes at EARJ, right? Well, not quite. The 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years have been years like no other and the impact that the pandemic has had on education has required EARJ to rethink what a school is and where/how learning takes place. The emergence of distance learning introduced disruptive innovations to the classroom like Zoom/Google Meet and introduced the concepts of synchronous and asynchronous learning for the first time.

While some might suggest that we will simply return to our previous way of doing things once the pandemic is over, we know that disruption doesn’t work that way. For the past year now we have been continually evaluating the impact of this disruption on teaching and learning and recalibrating how we do things to successfully meet the needs of our students, both on-campus and from home along the way. So, while some of the adaptations we have made over the past year are destined to fade away, others are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

So where do we go from here? Onward and Upward. We are not here today celebrating the 84th anniversary of EARJ as a result of complacency. Rather, it’s because we have changed as a commitment to our mission of providing an education which inspires creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and the confidence to excel in an ever-changing global community and our vision of being globally recognized as an international school.

With this in mind, EARJ will continue to transform learning by providing a unique, challenging, and diverse educational experience for students that move from individualism to collectivism, from the idea of a physical classroom to an invisible classroom, and from teacher-led to student-driven learning. It’s an exciting time and we thank you for choosing EARJ for your child’s educational journey.

“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.” 

Georg C. Lichtenburg

Scott Little
Barra Upper School Principal

Digital Citizenship

February 10, 2021

It is incredible how technology is continuously evolving at an unimaginable pace, and how not only we, as adults are able to follow this evolution, but also our children. With this evolution, there are opportunities and risks which young people are not ready to deal with.

EARJ students use the internet and mobile technology to explore, connect, share, collaborate and learn every single day of our academic year. While this is something wonderful, using all this technology can create some ethical issues such as cyberbullying, misinformation, and health issues related to media balance and social-emotional wellbeing.

From February 8th-12th, EARJ celebrates the Digital Citizenship Week, where students will have a full week of activities with resources that teach students, educators, and parents tangible skills related to internet safety, protecting online reputations and personal privacy, media balance, managing online relationships, and media literacy.

EARJ is committed to teaching our students how to be digital learners, leaders, and citizens, as we believe that digital citizenship skills have become essential for them, especially over the past year. We firmly believe that with the right support, our students can structure their digital lives, engage with real issues, and help change our community for better.

I would also like to take the time to congratulate our faculty and staff for making the Digital Citizenship Week possible, embracing it as an important part of their student’s education, and for preparing them on using technology safely and responsibly, providing them with lifelong habits to help our students succeed in a tech-driven world.

Carlos Eduardo Pinho
Director of Educational Technology