Faculty in Focus: Cibele Thomaz, Lower School Pre-primary Teacher
Posted 12/08/2020 09:30AM

1. You are passionate about the Montessori Method. What is this method and how is it different from other ways of teaching pre-primary children?

Dr. Maria Montessori broke barriers. She became a physician during a time women were not allowed to attend medical school in Italy. She also studied natural sciences and engineering. But most important of all, she studied the child. Her method is based on scientific evidence, taking into consideration a child's development and needs. She developed materials and believed that well-prepared adults and the environment are key to fostering children's natural desire to learn, along with choice and autonomy. I am really proud of being a MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) certified teacher. I learned so much about the methodology and its peaceful philosophy during my Montessori training at Centro de Educação Montessori de São Paulo. I feel lucky to have done my internship in a Montessori classroom here at Graded.

2.  Have you ever lived outside of Brazil? 
After working for a couple of years as a bilingual secretary for a Dutch company, I was offered a job in commercial operations. That was an interesting opportunity. They sent me to the Netherlands to be trained where I lived for two months that year. I lived in a city called Delft and was thrilled by their way of living, biking everywhere I could. I rented a bike the day I arrived.

3. You have two children at Graded. What have you learned or studied because of their education that you might otherwise not have?
My oldest son has just started middle school and my youngest is in grade 4. It has been interesting to learn how different an American school can be from a Brazilian one. Most Brazilian schools, for example, do not offer a full-day experience for their students. The Middle School curriculum at Graded also differs from the curriculum in Brazilian middle schools, especially with regard to electives and advisory classes.

4. What is your all-time favorite band or singer? 
I have a very eclectic taste in music, but on every playlist, you will find a hit by Queen.

5. What lasting lesson did you learn from your parents?
Education is the pillar of one's life. My father passed away when I was only nine years old, and my mother dedicated herself to bringing up both my sister and me. She made sure that both of us attended good schools and went to university. I am very grateful for all they did and all they taught me.

6. As a Pre-primary teacher, what are your happiest moments with students? What moments, if any, discourage you?
Maria Montessori once said, "The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist.'" It is so beautiful to see children moving, choosing, and discovering. It is for sure one of the happiest moments in the classroom – seeing children showing love for what they are doing with interest and autonomy. There certainly are more challenging days, but they can be great opportunities for us to get to know ourselves and our students better. On those days, it is always a good idea to stop, take a step back, sit on our hands, and observe. This can lead to better days.

7. What's something you've done that's surprised even you?
A couple of years ago we spent our vacation in Minas Gerais. We visited Inhotim and were amazed by the beauty and diversity of the place. As we were traveling by car, we stopped in a small town called São Lourenço. When we arrived there, we found out the city had some adventure options. There, I was convinced to fly in a hot air balloon. I can't say that I was feeling 100% sure about it. It was a lovely ride, but we had a bumpy landing in the middle of a farm.

8.  What is a fabulous place that you, a native of São Paulo, know about, that people in the Graded community don't necessarily know about but should?
São Paulo is very democratic in terms of leisure. I like places that can connect me with nature and involve outdoor moments with my family and friends. If you happen to go to Campos de Jordão, make sure you visit Amantikir, a lovely garden with a great view of the Serra da Mantiqueira. It's a quiet place that will guarantee you fabulous shots.

9. What's your idea of a good time?
Taking walks and watching good movies or a series that make me laugh or think about life in the company of my family. Lately, I have also been experimenting with some meditation and yoga, and I like the well-being these practices offer me.

10. What's your favorite thing about Graded?
Its cultural diversity. Getting to know people from all around the world and learning more about their cultures is a unique and enriching experience.

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