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Two at EABH Achieve National Recognition

Two at EABH Achieve National Recognition

By Rodolpho Araujo

Belo Horizonte, Brazil – The announcement of recent national awards has highlighted the accomplishments of two members of the faculty and staff at the American School of Belo Horizonte (Escola Americana de Belo Horizonte – EABH).


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The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), in conjunction with the US Department of State Office of Overseas Schools, honored EABH Director Catarina Song Chen as a 2015 National Distinguished Principal. According to NAESP, the NDP award was established in 1984 to recognize elementary and middle level principals who “set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staffs in their learning communities.”

Catarina has created a collaborative environment that is demonstrative of the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. Her main focus has been to cultivate a culture in which members embrace the mission of the organization and value the significance of being part of something bigger than themselves. As EABH PYP Coordinator Kirstin White puts it, “Perhaps the greatest impact Catarina has had on our community is inspiring, encouraging, and assisting in the continual development of leadership qualities in others. Catarina has made it a priority to build a strong team of educators and has supported professional growth and advancement within the school, resulting in staff who are motivated by their ability to contribute and collaborate toward the shared vision and mission of the community.” Catarina’s commitment to the mission and educational goals of the school has been the driving force in school growth – tripled matriculation with a growing waitlist, as well as the high achievement of students and teachers over her six-year tenure as director. EABH High School Principal Jason Baxley states, “The school has moved from being financially nonviable to a position of financial stability and poised for growth.” The AdvancEd accreditation team commended EABH for establishing a culture of integration and collaboration across all cultural backgrounds, ages, and stakeholders: “The school fosters a positive culture with a strong commitment to the school’s vision and mission, characterized by meaningful engagement of families, a community of warmth, a spirit of collaboration, and a sense of belonging.”


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Also, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has honored EABH Librarian and author Kristy Dempsey with the prestigious Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text for her book A Dance Like Starlight (illustrated by Floyd Cooper, published by Philomel/Penguin Putnam.) The SCBWI is a publishing industry organization comprised of children’s book writers, illustrators, editors and publishing executives. The Golden Kite is awarded in four categories– fiction, non-fiction, picture book text and picture book illustration – to recognize excellence in children’s literature. A Dance Like Starlight is a historical fiction book highlighting the achievements of Janet Collins, the first African American prima ballerina, as seen through the eyes of a young girl who also dreams of becoming a ballerina. Kristy’s published works include Me with You, Mini Racer, and Surfer Chick, and the forthcoming Superhero Instruction Manual, as well as three additional picture books to be published in the next 2 years. Kristy has been serving as librarian at EABH since 2010.

EABH is lucky to have a nationally acclaimed author working directly with our students and teachers. “Kristy is a talented human being gifted with the ability to artistically craft words that inspire our hearts and minds, thereby giving meaning to our lives. Despite her fame, she remains humble and grounded in her work as media specialist, connecting learning goals to resources, supporting teachers to do their jobs well,” raves EABH Director Catarina Song Chen.

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