An introduction to Mr. Boerner

Our future superintendent, Mr. Boerner, shares his views on the new grading system, dark chocolate, and #thedress.


What has your international experience been like, so far?

It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve lived in two different countries, South Korea and Bangladesh, and in these ten years overseas, I’ve had very different school experiences. What is it, what has it been like… it’s opened my eyes to culture and different perspectives around the world. Being able to sit with a group of students from seven different countries and have a political or historical debate, listen to their conversations, or simply hang out, has been incredibly eye-opening for me.

How do you see yourself at Graded/SP in 2016?

With an open heart, open mind, and open arms to embrace everything. I want to get to know the culture, the people, the school culture, the country, jump in and get involved. I want to find out how the school ticks, what are its greatest accomplishments—the untouchables, the hallmarks of the school—and how can we make those even better, and what we need to do to improve upon the areas that need some addressing and focus.

There have been some recent changes to the grading system…

Menacing glare: Daduummm.

How could you contribute?

Fortunately, I’ve had a similar experience in my current school in Dhaka; we’ve been going through the exact same process. We’ve moved to a standards-based reporting model and made some focus changes, where grades are no longer calculated or averaged. We do use the A to F system, still, instead of the numbers one to seven. We actually don’t give F’s anymore; you can only get a “not learned,” and you won’t get credit until you learn it. We’ve been looking at attributes of learning as well, from studying reassessment practices and policies giving students more time and opportunities to demonstrate their learning to assessing homework differently (we don’t score homework).

The one thing I can offer, or the experience I can share is the challenges we went through; the beginning was very difficult. There was lots of stumbling and errors, with some students inconsistently being evaluated versus other students, which I know is an issue here, and how to moderate that. We went through a lot of exercises and brought a consultant in to work with teachers on how to moderate grades and score fairly. We used exemplar work, and teachers would sit together and evaluate the score, asking questions such as “How would you evaluate this?” and “How would you reassess?” We then did some data assessment on the reassessments to evaluate if when kids took reassessments, did they do better? We went through all that, and I think I can bring a lot of that knowledge and share it with the community here as Graded works through the process.

You’ve been here for a week?


What have been your impressions so far, of Graded, São Paulo…?

There are a few similarities to the school I’m at in Dhaka. One is just this fun, warm sense of community. Parents talk about being invited to be on campus and I’ve often seen them walking the halls, which is very true in our school as well. That’s one of the real captivating reasons I wanted to come. Kids were welcoming, adults were welcoming, parents are happy; there are a lot of positives to this school. What I think I’ve been most excited about is the professionalism of the staff and the desire they have to become better educators and work harder at their own craft. I think that’s impressive. I got to interview some teachers that are going to be here next year, and there was one teacher who asked me, “In what ways will you ensure that you push us to be better teachers than we are today?” Most teachers or most people with their employers wouldn’t want to say, “We want to work harder,” right? Instead, they’d usually say, “How are you going to make sure you don’t put more on our plate?” But that wasn’t the attitude here. The rest of the teachers in the room were all like, “Yeah, what are you going to do to make sure we’re better?” That’s impressive to me, that people care that much about getting better. So that’s something I hadn’t seen at other schools that I’m motivated about.

Would you rather go way back in time and meet your ancestors or go way into the future and meet your great grandchildren?

Oh, totally go into the future.

Any reason why?

Because I’m fascinated about the future, I’m fascinated about change and innovations, and I’m curious about what’s ahead of us that we don’t know.

Fiction or non-fiction?


Dark chocolate or white chocolate?

Oh, totally dark chocolate! White chocolate, yuck! And dark chocolate can be varying, even the dark, dark chocolate that’s more bitter—my Starbucks latte is a mocha with just a tiny bit of chocolate so it’s bitter.

PC or Mac?


Cowboys or aliens?

Oh, man… I gotta say cowboys.

Would you rather have legs for fingers or fingers for legs?

Oh my gosh, let me think this through. Legs for fingers or fingers for legs… I gotta visualize this. Okay, so here are my legs, right, these big old legs, and here I’ve just got little stubby fingers? I gotta say legs for fingers, I just think operationally, because then at least I could walk around! But if I just got little fingers here I can’t get anywhere.

[Your fingers] would probably get really strong.

Yeah, I’d have really strong hands. These are great questions.

Do you know what year it is in the Chinese Zodiac right now?

Oh, gosh! I did because one of our teachers who is Taiwanese just had a baby, she was telling us about the baby… But, I do not.

Well, the Talon just wrote a whole print edition about how it’s the Year of the Sheep, so we asked you to see if you knew.

OOOH! It is the Year of the Sheep, that’s right, I’m just looking at her Facebook post now and it’s all coming back to me. I’ll admit it, I didn’t.

It’s okay, we forgive you.

Oh, thank God.

Sausage or sudoku?

Oh, man! Oh… that’s not fair. How about: sausage with sudoku?

That sounds fair. Our last question is, I don’t know if you’ve seen this viral thing going on about the dress and what color it is?

Yes, yes totally I’ve seen that!

Have you seen the dress?

Yes, yes!

Do you think it’s white and gold, or blue and black?

(laughing) Of course it’s white and gold! It’s so clear and obvious!