What’s happening in São Paulo?
On a sunny August day of 70 degrees, Avenues São Paulo opened its doors this year. With a brand new 323,000 square feet campus that’s able to accomodate 2100 people, more than 700 students started school on August 20th. They are a new generation of Avenues students, and the school is the first result of a long time Avenues promise to have multiple schools around the world. The path was not an easy one, with the original plan for a campus in China scrapped after difficulties. Nonetheless, students walked into the São Paulo building to begin their first day of school. The Highliner was able to talk to a 7th grader at Avenues São Paulo, Nacho Barrios and a middle school English teacher there, Ms. Rachel Spector, and we asked some questions.
What is your schedule like?
Nacho Barrios: There are 2 classes, then a 20 min recess, then another class. After that there is either Deans group or recess, then lunch. After we eat we have another period, and then we have our elective. If it’s Wednesday, then we have another recess instead of elective.
Why did you come to Avenues?
Nacho Barrios: I came to Avenues because my mother got a promotion, and we had to move to Brazil because of it. She saw the schools and loved Avenues, so I came here. It’s a fun school.
What is your favorite project at Avenues so far?
Nacho Barrios: My favorite project at Avenues was in Art class. It was a 3D modeling project, and I loved it because I love modeling, and it was great I could do it in school.
What was it like being at a brand new school and setting it up?
Ms. Spector: It was a much more inclusive culture, certainly compared to an already established school. All the teachers really bonded over the summer, and I felt very welcome and accepted into the Avenues community from the very first day. Everyone walks into the school with similar questions, and so it feels like a huge project we are all doing together. It is a challenge, as new schools have unique challenges, but we are figuring it out together, so we have each other.
What was the first day like?
Ms. Spector: The first day was everyone outside of classrooms in commons doing project- based learning. Everyone launched a project at the same time. I don’t know if this is unique in Sao Paulo, but it was an amazing experience. The students were thrilled by it. After that, we settled down into a more regular routine, but kids still remain in and out of the classroom.
How did it feel?
Ms. Spector: The excitement was palpable. All of the teachers were so excited, as we were together for a month before school opened, and that excited transferred into the first days, weeks of school even, but especially those first few days I will never forget.
In conclusion, Avenues São Paulo is well under way. The challenges of being a brand new school still arose, but they were handled with aplomb, and Avenues São Paulo has the same underlying culture as Avenues New York-welcome, safety, and respect. Students there still do project based learning, sit in tables, not desks, and have access to amazing machines and tools. 8th graders still do Exeter Math, and minimester is exciting in Avenues São Paulo too. Instead of Chinese or Spanish, Avenues São Paulo has English immersion instead, the schedule is a bit different, and there are Portuguese classes, but these are trivial differences, influenced only by the location of the school. These schools together form an even better school of thought. It is safe to say that the Avenues culture is still preserved 4800 miles away.