Lessons learned in Brazil
In 2007, Oak Bluffs School principal Laury Binney took an unpaid year of absence and traveled to Brazil with his wife, Marcy Klapper, a reading teacher at the West Tisbury School. The couple spent six months visiting elementary schools, conducting hours of interviews with teachers, parents, and students, to gain insight into how to address the needs of Brazilian students enrolled in Vineyard schools.
Mr. Binney edited the video footage he and his wife shot in Brazil into a ten-minute documentary that he will present on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 pm, at the Oak Bluffs School. The screening and talk, sponsored by The Oak Bluffs School PTO, is free and open to the public.
In a statement issued to The Martha's Vineyard Times, Mr. Binney said, "Our original goal was to better understand how the Brazilian system of education, and comparably the culture of Brazil, impact those families who have immigrated to Martha's Vineyard over the last 15 years, and, most especially, the students who attend our schools."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Mr. Binney believes that in the rural villages from where many of the Brazilians on Martha's Vineyard immigrated, there does not exist the same possibility of rising out of poverty through the public school system as there does on Martha's Vineyard. According to the Oak Bluffs School principal, wealthy children attend well-funded private schools, while the poor attend under-subsidized public schools that are neglected by the government.
The many interviews they conducted, Mr. Binney said, "provided some interesting information that helped us to better understand and address the educational and social issues of our Brazilian ELL [English Language Learner] population...In all of our visits to schools here in Brazil, the one invariable response to our question regarding how we might best serve our Brazilian students on Martha's Vineyard was to be sure to preserve their cultural heritage."