Lower School News 

Faculty in Focus: Heather Purcell, Lower School Librarian
Posted 02/18/2020 02:30PM

 

1. Among other degrees, you hold a Doctorate in Education (EdD) and have worked in different school roles, such as assistant principal in Cairo and director of curriculum and staff development in Seoul. How do all of these experiences help you as the Lower School librarian at Graded?
For many years and through different roles, I've enjoyed collaborating with teachers and working across multiple grades. I like looking at the big picture and how all the pieces of the puzzle go together. These are key parts of a successful library program as well. Literacy leadership has also been a primary focus of my work in both my master's and doctoral degrees, and it drives my work as a librarian.

 

2. What adventurous pastimes have you engaged in at different points in your life?
I spent much of my 20s and 30s looking for the next big thrill – skydiving, ballooning, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, rock climbing, rappelling, sailing, scuba diving, and wilderness backpacking. I've toned things down a bit, but I still love to travel. 

 

3. What book that you have read in the past five years has made a big impact on you?
Too many to count, really. Many of the books I read leave a lasting impression. Two that come to mind are Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children's Learning by Peter H. Johnston. 

In Half the Sky, the authors share numerous devastating stories about the oppression of women around the world, while also sharing information about organizations that are changing lives and empowering women and girls. It is the lasting message of hope from those who have suffered greatly that impacted me the most. 

Choice Words is a short but thought-provoking book about the power our words have to shape the experiences of the children around us, often in ways we don't realize. 

 

4. What do you do if you can't sleep at night? 
I read! (And sometimes I listen to a recording of waves crashing.) 

 

5. What's your favorite quote about libraries? And why do you like it?
I've always appreciated one from the 1800s that is every bit as true today as it was originally:

"He is wise who knows the source of knowledge – where it is written and where it is to be found." A.A. Hodge 

We are now inundated with a quantity of information that Mr. Hodge couldn't have begun to imagine. It is even more important now that we learn how to discern quality information and how to locate good sources. This is perhaps the most important part of my work with students (and adults). 

 

6. If you had the ability to compete in an Olympic sport, which would it be? 
Can we make speed reading an Olympic sport? 

 

7. Have you ever felt excluded? Explain the situation and how it made you feel.
I think there are times throughout our lives that we feel like we would have appreciated being included in something. We all experience FOMO (fear of missing out), and I think social media has made that even harder than when I was a kid. 

I do remember a time in middle school when two people I considered good friends were having a sleepover without me. One of them made a point of talking in front of me about how much fun they were going to have and everything they were going to do. I felt jealous and hurt at the time, and we got into a big argument. We made up - it took a couple of years, to be honest – and more than 30 years later, she's one of my closest friends. I consider her to be family. 

 

8. What is your favorite place to be when you're out and about in São Paulo? 
I absolutely love taking long walks in Ibirapuera Park for the people-watching, museums, and various special events and performances, which I often discover by accident. 

 

9. What fear are you trying to overcome?
I sometimes feel afraid of the unknown, especially what the future will bring. I think this is why I've deliberately put myself into what could be considered scary situations: to face my fears and push the edges of my comfort zone. This has included adventure sports, but also "leaping into the unknown" (like Scaredy Squirrel) with moves around the world. I think it's good to challenge our fears in safe ways. Sometimes our fears are well-founded and they help us make good choices. Sometimes they are barriers to living our fullest lives. I don't want a fear of the unknown to keep me from taking chances and experiencing the world. 

 

10. What's your favorite thing about Graded?
I love the positive energy at Graded. I love that being happy is emphasized in our strategic initiatives, along with being successful and being involved. Achieving this balance in our lives is key!


 

Av. José Galante, 425
São Paulo, SP - Brazil - 05642-000
T: 55-11-3747-4800
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