I’m Patricia Gaviria. I came to the school 27 years ago. Since I got hired, I knew that I was here to stay. I’m in charge of the exam room and I was academic secretary for a long time. I’ve lived the best years of my life in Fontan School. It has given me every opportunity to learn and grow as a person. I’m lucky enough to see how each and every student evolves.
In 2014, after living in the United States for 15 years, I decided to return to Colombia. The next day, I had an interview at Fontan School. Three hours later, I was the new English mentor for secondary school. The situation couldn't be more evident. That morning, the school, with its workshops, students and other mentors became a second home, a second family that took me in on my return. Such is the importance of the bond I have with this wonderful place. For 15 cosmic months, my students’ still indescribable zeal to ask questions and try to think in a different language; Ata's transparent and fraternal look; Martica’s, and Nubia's incomparable kindness; and the cheerfulness I found in Stiven, the sports mentor, were, at the time, treasures, letters from a magical alphabet that allowed me to write some of the happiest days I’ve had so far in my work and social life. I’m so proud to say I worked in Fontan!
Fontan School came into my family’s life through the stories of a close relative. She decided to try the system with two of her children in Bogota. The excellent results she had, plus some things my mom didn’t approve of in the traditional system, led my family to decide that Mariana, my little sister, would continue her education in the school. The positive results, despite everyone's reservations about a system that is a bit strange, were evident from the start. Mary, after a couple of months, began to enjoy the constant positive feedback a good student gets in the school. She began to notice what it means to make progress at her own pace, to see her individuality was respected and valued and to feel the pleasure that comes with achieving goals, thanks to her dedication and effort. More than that, Mary got to see, maybe for the first time, how easy and fun it can be to study without the torment of the oppressive authority she had experienced in the past. Over time, results went from positive to something that was really beyond anyone’s expectations. Mariana’s abilities began to be recognized by everyone, but most importantly, by herself. Soon, she became a model student without meaning to and she reached the third level in autonomy. The relationship that my parents and family have with schools went from being something like a torment that we were all used to, to a close bond of cooperation and support. The change was clear for all, and the influence of the system and the school in our lives became deeply rooted. None of us imagined that the relationship could be even closer when, fresh out of university, I started working as an analyst in the school, and the institution's reality opened before me. As part of my training, I was asked to study the theoretical and practical foundation of the school’s methodology, so that I could do my job correctly. In short, I fell in love with the Fontan System after this reading. My friends had to put up with me telling them for weeks, in amazement, about this very unusual, yet entirely logical way to approach knowledge. Our general agreement was that we should all have studied like that. We saw the abilities that Fontan students would undoubtedly develop–so many skills we struggled to learn on the fly when we were faced with complex topics in university. Planning, autonomy, individual studying and written language are the pillars of a good educational process in graduate school. Thanks to a “new” system, it was already possible to learn those things in primary and secondary school. By working in the school, I got to see how that “magical” change in my sister was the result of the intense work done day by day by a diverse group of people who dedicate their effort to the support of students. It wasn't a “magical” change anymore. It was the clear result of the effort from the school’s teaching personnel supported by the guidance that Mr. Fontan and his successors gave the institution. I fully committed to my work there. Apart from learning a lot about the students, I started to see how some of them got better because of my effort and the effort of my colleagues. No one who hasn't directly worked with the school can imagine how deeply we get to know students, perhaps not even the students themselves. All their antics and typical behaviors, the way they reason, their personality and bad habits take diverse forms for us in all the work they do. It's almost as if, with our work, we researched the functioning of each student’s brain. All that information is what allows us to be true educators and help students develop to the fullest as long as they are willing to. When they say that the education provided by the school is customized, that’s not just a line. The education provided by the school is customized because each student gets hours and hours of work exclusively dedicated to them, to their strong and weak points. Each of their accomplishments and setbacks are recorded in detail, so they can be used as scaffolds in the gigantic structure we want to help them build. The school doesn't only respect individuality, but puts it above any other guideline in each student's evaluation and education. Having worked in the school was an extremely rewarding experience for me. I didn't only participate in an education revolution. I also got to meet the human beings that, with their complete dedication, enable hundreds of students to achieve the excellence they are capable of. To my former colleagues, my absolute admiration and gratitude. I’m a better person today and I hope to be a better educator in the future, thanks to you. I congratulate the students on being part of a system that will allow them to grow as human beings in ways they can’t imagine yet. Thanks a lot!