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Dra Silvia Siqueira and a legacy as Diretora Oficial

Dra Silvia Siqueira and a legacy as Diretora Oficial

I leave the school with the assurance of doing the best I could in my position

Silvia Fortes Siqueira is one of those St. Paul’s community members who will always be in our memories. PhD in Bilingual Education, she has been the Diretora Oficial of the school for 21 years, making all of our pupils' work and achievements be recognised in Brazil. Together with the Brazilian Secretaries team, Silvia led important projects during her Paulean journey, such as the insertion of one additional year in the Ensino Fundamental, other curriculum adjustments, and the implementation of the new Ensino Médio. Balancing her role as Diretora also at other international schools, Silvia left St. Paul's School with accumulated experience and accomplishments. In this interview, she shares some of her memories.  

Tell us a little about your trajectory at St. Paul’s. 

I came to St. Paul's after the sudden passing of the diretora by then, Silvia Barreto. An acting diretora, who used to work at Chapel, recommended me for the position. I had just arrived from the USA with my PhD in Bilingual Education, and they found it interesting and called me. I then was approved in the interviews with Mr Benamar, Mr Nelson and the Board president by the time. Once the school hired me, it took me a while to get to know the school. And then everything worked well once I completed 21 years as the Diretora Oficial. 

Which are some of the historical moments that you have lived in St. Paul’s School? 

In 2006, with the addition of one more school year in the Ensino Fundamental of the Brazilian Curriculum, we started to work on the necessary adaptations year to year, gradually completing the nine years that the new statutory required. Many schools opted to make a sudden promotion of all the pupils – not for the first year, but for the second year, so the school transcript was only one. Here at St. Paul's we had to maintain two school transcripts because the school life was different – the pupils who started studying when the statutory required only eight years of Ensino Fundamental had the right to finish it in eight years. The ones who started when the rules had changed to the nine years arrangement had to finish it after nine years of school. Therefore, the school could integrate the IB graduation with Ensino Médio’s graduation.  

After that, we also introduced the new Ensino Médio to the Brazilian Curriculum. With my experience, it was an effortless transition because the Brazilian legislation based the new curriculum on the IB curriculum principles. To enable that adaptation, I worked closely with Mrs Martina [Oparaocha, Head of Senior School] and Mr Edge [the Headmaster]; they collaborated with me by giving me the space I needed to explain what was necessary and then make the changes. It was a period when I was dedicated to this project because I prepared that modification for the three schools where I used to work: here, at Graded and St. Francis, each one with its specific characteristics.  

We also could change the deadline age for children to enter the first year of Ensino Fundamental (from March 31 to June 30), uniting our efforts with other English language schools to appeal to the Conselho Estadual de Educação.  

How did you overcome the daily cultural differences in your occupation? 

I think we must be very empathetic with others because, for example, it’s not that the Brazilian authorities want to make the schools' lives difficult. But they don't know the reality of our institutions. So, building the bridge between the Brazilian and the British authorities is primordial.  

The first Headmaster I worked with was Mr Benamar. He had already been the Headmaster at a French school in England before. For this reason, he was so comprehensive with my position. After him came Mr Row, who I've worked with closely, helping him to understand the expectations. And he was interested in participating in all the phases of the work, be it in the meetings with Brazilian authorities, visiting other Brazilian schools etc. Right after that, we had Ms Simpson, when we made the integration of the Brazilian and British Social Studies Curriculums and the Portuguese and English Grammar Curricula. It was a magnificent work of which I'm proud. I've always respected St. Paul's philosophy, which is continually recognised as an excellent school based in Brazil.   

What are your best memories of St. Paul’s School? 

I leave the school with the assurance of doing the best I could in my position. I always remember events where I was introduced to authorities and celebrities, like the England Consul, Mick Jagger, the football player Kaká and the singer Dinho Ouro Preto. Another memory is the visit of the secretário Estadual da Educação of São Paulo State in 2018, Renato Nalini, who was so fond of visiting us that he wrote compliments to the school in his column in a newspaper. Seeing the school being recognised as an exponent of education in São Paulo was beautiful. 

How do you see the school in the future? 

It must continue to be a school of excellence which prepares good pupils for higher education in Brazil and abroad. I also see more pupils participating in competitions like Math, Biology, Chemistry and Physics Olympics, in the Parlamento Jovem, and in many other enrichment opportunities for the pupils. The scholarship programme also has everything it needs to grow and benefit more Brazilian pupils. 

What are your retirement plans?  

I intend to spend more time at my beach house, and welcome my children, grandchildren and friends with more time and calm. One thing is sure: I will not need to use the alarm in the morning. I also intend to dedicate myself to writing once I adore it; I'm part of Academia Itanhaense de Letras. Ms Simpson [former Head] always said I should write a book about Bilingual Education, but I have already written articles, and I want to leave it as lived and concluded experience. I want to write children's books about my kitten.  





Secretário Estadual de Educação - Dr. José Renato Nalini and Dra Silvia Siqueira

Dra Silvia Siqueira retires and her son, Pedro Paulo Siqueira is the new Diretor Oficial of St. Paul's School

Members of the Conselho Estadual de Educação in 2019

Dra Silvia and the team of supervisoras