The power of Passion

November 18, 2020

One of the things I really enjoy is to work with people younger than me. Not just 2 or 3 years younger, but from a different generation – I have great friends who were my interns or trainees in the past that have become amazing professionals. Apart from the fact that I loved to learn and to hear their fresh ideas, I found it rewarding to push them to take risks, to make them feel confident to discover their passions.

I believe passion is a game changer. When you feel good about someone (no matter if it’s a Lower School crush, a High School sweetheart, or the love of your life), you want to make a good impression, say the right words, make the right moves. If it’s a passion for what you do, time seems to fly. There’s this strange energy, this fuel that keeps you moving and gets nothing but the best out of you.

Passion is not something you bump into everyday, though. You need to feel inspired, to be open, to “practice new”. Practice builds confidence and also helps you learn that although you will not thrive everytime, it is worth taking the risk.

So a few days ago I received the cutest video from the Lower School team, with kids trying new things like doing pirouettes, surfing, skaterolling. They were taking risks, experimenting things they never did before, feeling the rush. It was part of their exploration of the PYP Learner Profile Attributes. At some point, they would explain why they considered themselves risk takers, feeling proud about themselves no matter if they went well or not. They were proud because they tried. They were feeling the grounds of a new activity that could lead or not to a new passion. Most importantly, they were developing their confidence.

At EARJ, students are inspired to take risks, to try new activities in sports, arts, social responsibility, leadership, and so many other things. They may or may not quickly connect with some of these activities, but what will echo in the future, either in their personal or their professional lives, is that they developed their confidence and were always inspired in trying something new.

Inspiration ignites passion. Passion leads to purpose. Purpose defines the path. It’s no surprise that at EARJ, we are passionate about our purpose to help our students find their path.

Cristina Conforto
Director of Advancement

Achieving Happiness

November 10, 2020

EARJ’s Purpose, Mission, Vision, and Values paint a powerful picture of how we see our school now and what our collective ambitions are for the future.  They provide a framework for the type of physical, social and intellectual learning environments we wish to provide to our school community.

In a continuing desire to fulfill our mission and vision and to instill these values in our students, some of our teachers are currently participating in a four-week Mindfulness and Well-Being programme aimed at further developing these core values in our students and identifying practical strategies for student success. By incorporating findings from emotional intelligence and neuroscience, teachers are working to foster creativity, academic success, compassion, empathy and greater happiness in our students.

Additional goals of the mindfulness and well-being programme are to link research to the implementation of the Approaches to Learning Skills throughout EARJ’s developing IB continuum of academic programmes.

So, what has been learned so far? That, among other things, there appears to be a common misconception regarding happiness and how we achieve it. Advertising and marketing campaigns would have us believe that an individual’s level of happiness is measured through their acquisition of material goods. Others pursue goals only to achieve them and realize that they didn’t provide them with the level of happiness that they were hoping for.

If we are always looking for the next, best thing, we may potentially find ourselves unfulfilled in a never ending pursuit of happiness. But, what if we work towards achieving happiness now, and use this state of mind to help us reach our goals? Are there strategies to help us do so? What are the benefits?

The truth is that happiness is within everyone’s grasp and it is something that can be developed through practice. The benefits? Happy people have more friends, are more productive, and are better decision makers and problem solvers, to name a few. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, has collected many practices, including those on happiness, that closely align with the EARJ’s Core Values of Integrity and Respect, Leadership and CommunityOptimism and Compassion, and  Commitment to Learning. The website is not exclusively for educators and includes resources/strategies on parenting, that are well worth the look.

So, if happiness is within our grasp, why is it so elusive? In his book on Hardwiring Happiness, Dr. Rick Hanson describes how the brain has a negativity bias that, “makes it like Velcro for negative experiences and like Teflon for positive ones”. Our “stone-age” brains have the ability to leave us feeling stressed and inadequate unless we apply 21st century practices that will allow us to feel at ease and fulfilled. One of these practices is Taking in the Good in which we deliberately internalize positive experiences in our minds by Having a positive experience, Enriching it, Absorbing it and Linking the positive and the negative.

By focussing on the good in our experiences, the good in people, and the good in life, we are choosing positivity and in doing so, we are choosing to work towards achieving happiness in our lives.

Scott Little
Barra Upper School Principal

The value of educating our children in a social work environment

November 3, 2020

As Director of Human Resources here at EARJ, I spend a lot of time thinking about people. If you Google “making the company more human” you will find over 4 million results of your search.

Perhaps due to the pandemic, companies the world over have woken up to the critical importance of social and interpersonal skills in the workplace. This is something that we maybe take for granted at EARJ. Ours is a school where people come first. We understand that a critical element of being a successful adult is your ability to work collaboratively and empathetically with other people. This is why it is so important that our school values social skills in our programs and in how we support the growth of our students.

Actively listening is vitally important to success in our globally connected lives. They say: “Listening is not the absence of talking, but the presence of attention; is not simply hearing, it is understanding.” The world is increasingly growing smaller when one considers the rapid forms of communication and travel available and the businesses utilizing each. We are learning exponentially more about our world, universe, and selves. Living in a community where each individual is heard – being a student, a parent, or an employee matters. As a mom, knowing that each child is recognized as having unique needs at EARJ is a blessing.

Just as “the whole is greater than the sum of parts”, we achieve more by working together than through individual efforts. In my experience at EARJ, senior graduation is a perfect example of the benefits of long-term collaboration efforts. Each young adult carries with them the work of many people who cared for and educated them over the years. They are impacted by the experiences and learnings they had with colleagues, parents, and with the newest and the experienced global network of educators from Brazil, the United States, Canada, and the UK, to name a few places in the world.

No professional life thrives without healthy connections. Making EARJ a safe place for our students and employees is paramount. Our academic and non-academic staff are highly trained and know that their individual contribution and attitude impact us all in this area. Last July, Dr. Doug Walker, a family psychologist and specialist in childhood trauma, worked with our employees. He emphasized that vigilant safeguarding and support of our people pays off. Even in a chaotic context such as the pandemic, the EARJ employees and parents’ daily routines to stay present, centered, and grounded – presently or virtually – kept us connected. And for that, we all should be very proud.

Communicating, actively listening to each other, collaborating, and staying connected – These are nothing short of making history, and I count myself and my family lucky and honored for being part of our community.

Ana Paula Stadelmann
Director of Human Resources