Pan American School of Porto Alegre Celebrates 50 Years
By: Jeffrey Michael Jurkovac, Ed.S
Superintendent of The Pan American School of Porto Alegre, Brazil
50 years of PAS POA, thinking back and looking forward. As our 50th anniversary comes to an end, we have much to celebrate.
The Pan American School of Porto Alegre (PAS POA) has been providing excellent personal and educational opportunities to our students since 1966. Fully accredited by AdvancED in the United States, authorized as an IB World School delivering the Primary Years Program (PYP) and the Middle Years Program (MYP) and now offering the Advanced Placement Capstone diploma, PAS POA is nothing if not strongly leading the way at 50.
Where have we come from? The school has come a long way from the mid 90’s when the school contemplated closing its doors due to declining enrollment. In the last decade, the school has doubled its enrollment to 400 students from preschool through high school. Our community has embraced the idea of creating an international school that formed students with a global perspective of the world. With the help of a dedicated staff, strong international ties and a committed community, we have restructured the entire school’s curriculum, expanded co-curricular programs and have constructed new facilities in order to offer a unique educational experience in Porto Alegre.
Where are we going? Our consistent growth has tested both our human resources and necessary facilities. Although we moved to our current site in August 2007, it quickly became evident that we lacked the necessary space necessary to offer the vast educational programs and experiences that our students and families desired. Therefore, numerous modifications and improvements have been made to our current campus beginning 2009 including the construction of two state of the art science laboratories, two music classrooms, the purchase of an adjacent lot to expanding our outdoor space and the complete remodeling of our former school into a modern preschool facility. While these modifications began to address our space limitations, it was not enough to meet our growing needs. We therefore began our latest and most ambitious construction project, the Collaborative Learning Classrooms which was just completed in July of 2017. This modern facility houses a Makerspace, an Elementary Science Lab, a collaborative learning classroom and a spacious, rooftop garden to add to our open space.
Why do we stand out in education? From P3 to Grade 12, our programs focus on being inquiry-based, which means our students develop skills that require critical thinking beyond that of rigor. Even though we are located in the sixth largest city in Brazil, we are also challenged daily to bring more multi-cultural understanding to our community. One aspect of our diversity lies in our international and national teachers, hand-selected from around the world, trained in unison for all of our programs, and adding their own experiences to our campus. We seek to draw out creativity, teach equality, model a way to challenge assumptions, create global connections, take risks, find alternatives and encourage students to tailor their education, within the curriculum framework and under our guidance.
What type of student benefits from a PAS POA education? Our focus is to prepare students for success in both their present and future studies and lives; and to develop and respect each student´s definition of ´success´. For this to happen, we all embrace intercultural understanding and a true commitment to the value of respect. Our students actively participate in a multicultural environment with diverse learning activities that combine student’s interest with real-life applications. Some of the events they use to prepare for life outside of PAS POA´s wall include Classroom-Without-Walls trips designed by our Brazilian Studies department, annual Science Fair/Invention Convention with our science team, school musicals, design courses, Model United Nations, Global Issues Network, local and international sporting competitions, National Honors Society clubs and numerous international summer programs. The Pan American School is relationship-driven and transcends all combinations – student to school, parent to school, parent/student to real world, etc. We impart to our students explicit values which lead to our philosophy. This philosophy acts as a moral compass for all school members to develop as responsible and compassionate citizens of the world. Families that join PAS POA help maintain and define our mission and vision.
What will the next 50 years offer PAS POA? The collective efforts and dedicated work of our community have resulted in a unified sense of purpose, optimism, and commitment to create a unique learning environment which allows our students to pursue their dreams and embrace change. We have come together to provide not only strong academic programs but also opportunities to develop character and the skills and habits that they need to succeed now and in the future. We embrace both our successes and opportunities and remain confident about the future. The sky’s the limit.
Mission: PAS POA inspires global, life-long learners to build their future.
Vision: To be an exemplary international learning community, nurturing confidence to embrace change.