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Chapel Hill educators learn through exchange

Nilson Ferreira da Silva, Rose Mary Machado and Francisco Cruz de Nascimento have seen American perspectives on education through the Brazil Administrator Exchange Program at Chapel Hill High School.
Nilson Ferreira da Silva, Rose Mary Machado and Francisco Cruz de Nascimento have seen American perspectives on education through the Brazil Administrator Exchange Program at Chapel Hill High School.

Local principal Jesse Dingle didn’t expect to gain “lifelong friends” when three Brazilian principals visited Chapel Hill.

But through the Brazil Administrator Exchange Program, the Chapel Hill High School principal said he gained much more than administrative knowledge.

“Having them here has been incredible,” said Dingle, who is hosting the three educators through Nov. 4.

Almost 2,400 Brazilian public schools competed for 24 available exchange positions, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational Affairs. The administrators who were chosen were sent to nine states.

“I wanted to participate in this program because I want to have anther point of view regarding school management,” said Rose Mary Machado, who is the director of Eduardo Silveira State College in Itabaiana, Brazil and one of the administrators shadowing Dingle.

The Chapel Hill group arrived in mid-October and is staying at the Carolina Inn. The trio uses a translator to bypass the language barrier.

So far they said they have been surprised by schools without uniforms, and by the segregation of students with special needs in alternative public education schools.

To be selected, administrators had to prove their schools were among Brazil’s best, Machado said.
When the administrators leave town, they will travel to Washington, D.C., where an award will be given to the best school in Brazil.

Francisco Cruz de Nascimento, director of Casa Jovem II State School, is the only visiting principal up for the award.

“There are so many technological resources here that schools in Brazil do not have,” Nascimento said. “So that is definitely different.”

Nilson Ferreira da Silva, another visiting educator, said the group is working to apply methods learned in Chapel Hill when they return home to Brazil.

“Although we miss our families, we know that people who work for our schools in Brazil have high expectations,” Ferreira da Silva said. “We still get to communicate with our families through cell phones and Skype.”

In addition to visiting primary and secondary schools, Dingle accompanied the educators to local churches and the N.C. State Fair.

Next August, Dingle will travel with the educators to Brazil.

“Things are different here but in many ways the same,” Machado said. “I cant wait to show Dr. Dingle everything that Brazil has to offer.”

Dingle said the different perspectives and cultures that would be exchanged were key factors in his participation in the program.

“I have developed a bond that we will have forever,” Dingle said. “I am looking forward to going Brazil to spend time with my new friends.”

Contact the City Editor at citydesk@unc.edu.

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