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By Doug Gray, Senior Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Macaé, some 180km north up the coast from Rio de Janeiro, is Brazil’s fastest growing city, largely as a result of the region’s oil discoveries. Naturally, with the advancing petroleum industry has appeared a large expat community in Macaé. 

Students develop a greater global awareness at the ISoM, phot by ISoM.
Students develop a greater global awareness at the International School of Macaé, photo by ISoM.

At its heart lies a learning institution catering to arriving expat families where the high quality of education is matched only by the standards of amenities within its beautiful 11,000 m2 campus; International School of Macaé (ISoM).

Founded in 2004 by Irene Mika DaMota, a visionary educator with thirty years of experience in the Chicago public school system in America, ISoM was established to provide Macaé with a true international education option. 

Since its inception, the school continues to bring native English speaking certified teachers to Macaé. Today, 160 students are enrolled from ages three to sixteen, and will ultimately leave with a US accredited High School Diploma and a global outlook unique to the school’s learning environment.

The infant's play area at the Internationa School of Macae, photo by ISoM.
The infant's play area at the International School of Macaé, photo by ISoM.

The school’s headmaster Marcelo Salvini Fernandez, who has lived in Macaé for over twenty-five years is an educator and was a student of international education himself, putting him in the perfect position to direct the school. “Multi-national classrooms reflect the world of today with its inter-dependent nations and cross-cultural peoples”, he states. “In our classrooms students develop a world view that better prepares them as citizens of that world.”

Crucially, those classrooms are also sized so as to allow the different nationalities room to develop with the specific attention that every child requires for learning, but all too rarely receives. Class sizes vary from between 12 to 15 students, but never surpass that number.

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With vision toward world-class education, Irene Mika DaMota put into place the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), incorporating the Everyday Mathematics curriculum developed at the University of Chicago, and a science program with direct links to the National Geographic Society. The Multiple Intelligences framework, meanwhile, helps the student better understand themselves, fostering a more confident and able learner.

Currently there are over 800 schools teaching the IPC to over 200,000 children across the USA, Europe, Asia and The Middle East.  Today, International School of Macaé is pioneering its adoption in Brazil.

Marcelo points out that the extra facilities offered at the school also help in developing well-rounded individuals upon their graduation; “The campus is shared with our sister-school, Ativo, which offers an MEC accredited curriculum in the Portuguese language.  Our campus includes a multi-purpose sports court, soccer field, swimming pool, two playgrounds, kitchen and lunchroom.”

Marcelo continues; ” Extra-curricular activities we offer include practice in capoeira, swimming, or volleyball. The school’s recently celebrated the opening of our new bilingual library, inaugurated in the name of the founder, Irene Mika DaMota.  In addition ISoM maintains 11 classrooms with computer and internet access, a dance studio, and video room, as well as a residential complex for our international staff.”

Given the ephemeral nature of much of the local international community linked as it is so tightly with the oil industry, the enrollment policy at ISoM is very much open to year-round admissions, meaning new arrivals do not have to keep their children out of education for any longer than is necessary when they arrive in Macaé.

The school's beautiful grounds create a perfect learning environment, photo by ISoM.
The school's beautiful grounds create a perfect learning environment, photo by ISoM.

School transcripts are required for review, and then an interview is conducted with the headmaster, followed by a psychologist’s interview to ascertain any specialist requirements of each individual even before they have started their schooling.

While teaching is conducted in English, there are auxiliary programs available in Portuguese, to assist international students in acquiring the native language of Brazil.  Plans are afoot to further widen the language options as Marcelo points out; “Our business development plan includes an international accreditation process which began last year with a number of organizations such as the ECIS and IBO.  Our vision-casting includes incorporating additional language immersion methodologies in not only Portuguese and English, but also in the Dutch, French and Spanish languages.”

All of which means that the arrival of International School of Macaé is a wonderful opportunity for children to develop in the best environment for learning, with exposure to global perspectives from a very early age.

The Headmaster sums up the essence of the teaching process at the school, saying; “The most important aspect of a child’s education is a love for learning.  We achieve this by engaging students through critical thinking and interactive activities, both of which also better develop a student’s leadership skills.  With these three ingredients, if you will, we help nurture a child’s love for learning.”

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This article is a paid advertorial for the International School of Macaé.

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