Meet HighScope Hero
Meet HighScope Hero
MARGARIDA SILVEIRA RODRIGUES
“A HighScope education is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children.”
More than 22 years ago, Portuguese native Margarida Silveira Rodrigues dreamed of creating a relaxed, nurturing, and creative learning environment where children could explore their individuality without structured rules. In 1995, while working toward her degree in psychology from the University of Lisbon, Margarida was exposed to the HighScope active learning model by one of her professors. Inspired by the poetry of famed Portuguese poet Sebastião da Gama, she set out on an adventure to the United States to learn and observe best practices and early childhood education (ECE) models at HighScope’s headquarters in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Returning to Lisbon in 1998, Margarida opened the Raiz International Active Learning School in Lisbon, becoming the first educator to bring the HighScope certification training program to Portugal.
The school that Margarida opened in a small house in 1998 is now a prestigious and welcoming place of learning with more than 200 students. Margarida is a devoted educator who is determined to make the HighScope model available in schools all over Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries. That determination led her to complete HighScope’s Trainer of Trainers program in 2011 and to go on to establish the HighScope Portugal Institute where she trains ECE professionals and teachers in the HighScope Curriculum and approach.
“This approach is very important to implement into our learning environment,” says Margarida. “As a trainer, I’ve been training in Portugal and in several Portuguese-speaking countries with enormous success.”
Margarida has helped to implement the HighScope Curriculum and supervises the program in 14 schools throughout Portugal. Fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French, Margarida utilizes her multilingual skills in her training workshops. “One day, I hope to see HighScope in every country,” she says. “I hope to see a world connected through it.”
While she receives many accolades from her peers and colleagues, Margarida was nominated by someone even closer to her — her daughter Teresa Aires Rodrigues, a graduate student studying business, and the product of a HighScope education.
“She is not just my mother, but a trailblazer,” Teresa says. “My mother brought HighScope to Portugal and built it from the ground up. Her passion and dedication to developing HighScope in Portugal and other countries has changed many children’s lives. She is constantly looking for opportunities to improve practices and sharing HighScope with the broader community. She truly breathes and lives HighScope.”
Even during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Margarida is adapting and continues to offer resources to students and parents through online classrooms. “As a leader of several teams, I have been making each day lighter by following the rationale that we are all in the same boat and under a tremendous storm,” explains Margarida. “We moved HighScope to Zoom and implemented active learning’s five ingredients, as well as incorporated lots of music, movement, fun, and exploration of the children’s entire homes or bedrooms.”
Margarida embraces HighScope and its values in her practice — a practice that inspires parents, teachers, and students. She believes that high-quality early education builds the foundation for all things in life. “It is the greatest inheritance that we can leave to all children.”