One of my favorite parts of our trip was visiting this school. Landon's 3rd grade teacher, Patricia Marcondes ("Miss Patty" in Brazil :) taught there for 10 years before coming to teach at Hillcrest, and she was much loved! She helped us coordinate a visit here, and it was just wonderful.
One evening Jordan and I with Landon and Ellie were able to attend their annual International Night where all of the parents and students come for an evening of performances, music, presentations and lots of food. Ellie and I had so much fun seeing all of the new interesting foods and treats and juices all the parents had brought and watching the cute dances the students had prepared. (One of the preschool groups represented the United States with a darling dance to "Happy" -- Here's a video clip I found from one of the other dances we watched)
We also got to see their 5th grade drama class end of the year play - The Magic School Bus visits Pompeii. And it was in English! This school has a dual language immersion program similar to ours (except the students are learning English instead of Portuguese :) The students spoke so well and it was super fun to watch.
Landon spent much of the evening playing soccer just off to the side with a bunch of boys there. Oh, we were amazed at his friendship-making talent!
A few interesting things:
* The Global Students (in the dual language program) attend school from 8:00 till 3:00 (or 4:00?) The Brazilian students (not in the Dual Language program) are finished with the day at 12:00.
* This school has an extra building that is all for extracurricular programs -- a swimming pool, dance rooms, etc. They had swimming, ballet, martial arts, gymnastics, robotics, guitar, drama, choir, and several others I can't remember! Parents can sign their children up for any of these, so the school is busy from morning till night.
* The students have snack times built into their schedule where they take a break and have a snack at their desks in the classroom, one in the morning, (then lunch mid-day) then another snack in the afternoon. (What a great idea!)
* The younger students (kindergarten and younger) each had a bag hanging with their backpacks with a pillow and blanket inside for their nap/resting time.
* This school had classes for children as young as 1 1/2. "As soon as they can walk independently they can come - we call them our babies" And oh! they were just babies! Happily wandering around their courtyard as we walked through, having recess time, but oh! these babies at school? The director told me it is pretty standard for children this age to begin school because in most families both parents are working and they feel that they will be better cared for at school with other children to interact with than having a nanny at home.
* The Pre-K students (3-4 year olds) stay for an extra hour each day of English instruction (to take advantage of that perfect age for language acquisition and prepare them for starting kindergarten). I can't imagine Owen in school from 8 till 4 or 5 though!
* This school was absolutely beautiful. There were 4 or so buildings surrounding a beautiful courtyard and it was just really amazing.
* Besides the open courtyard, sports courts, and playgrounds, they also had an area called the forest. It was a beautiful, shaded space with trails going throughout and the kids loved playing and exploring in there. ( I think the director said that each week they have one or two days with 'forest time' on their schedule as one of their daily activities - how cool!)
* Their staircases inside had ramps on one side for the students to pull their backpacks up on. (they all had bags with suitcase style handles)
* The students call their teachers by their first names rather than last names "Miss Clausa" "Miss Patty"
This was really such a highlight of our trip for me!