Fisk students on the verge of taking final exams at the Main Office on Avenida Lins de Vasconcelos circa 1978. The blogger (and teacher) is on the centre having Lidia Picolo (another teacher) on the left.
1973 - 1974 - 1975
I don't actually know exactly when private English-language-teaching schools started sprouting up in Sao Paulo but if one takes the period just after World War II it is possible that Yazigi was one of the first to be established.
By the 1960s there were a few schools that taught English as a foreign language: Yazigi, União Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos, Instituto Roosevelt and Escolas Fisk which had the best and fastest method of them all.
There were myriads of smaller schools especially downtown Sao Paulo that catered for less affluent students. I, myself, remember having taken an English course circa 1968 at a school in a building on Avenida Sao João opposite the Main Post Office. After completing the 1st stage I went over to TNT (Trans World Tuition) another 'el cheapo' school on Praça Clovis Bevilacqua and did the 1st stage all over again. I would have never got on to the 2nd stage at such a pace.
Even though I could never finish any English-course properly I ended up traveling to the USA in late 1971 and had to grapple with the language 'in loco'... and that was not easy! I remember I met a Brazilian fellow called Damazio Nazareth who could speak English better than the average 'Brazuca'. He told me he had learned English at a Fisk School in Guarulhos-SP. That was the first time I had ever heard Fisk's name. I was impressed with Damazio's use of the Present Perfect Tense and other grammar tools.
In mid 1973, when I was back in Brazil, Antonio Gonçalves Filho (Nino), a friend of mine who I had met in the US told me he was attending a training course to become an English teacher at Escolas Fisk, on rua Francisca Miquelina, 118. Nino convinced me I should also attend the course and I went along for the ride.
I remember I was asked to write a composition in English when I applied to work as a teacher at Fisk's main office on Rua Santo Antonio, 454. I wrote something about 'everyday people' which was the title of one of Sly & the Family Stone's greatest hits. Nino and I only attended the last part of the course that was given by Valter Bresolin Pinto de Moraes so I wasn't sure about my ability to grasp it.
Soon after I was called by Valter himself (who was teachers' counsellor) offering me to teach at a company in Vila Leopoldina, a suburb next to Lapa. I took a bus and went to the the office of some factory to start teaching to its employees. I was surprised to find among the students a former colleague who I had worked with at a lawyers's association office before I went to the USA (1970-1971). It was sort of bad omen. It sort of broke the spell. I was probably too shy and not sure of myself and it didn't work out. I gave a few classes but I felt terribly unsuited for the task. I went back to Valter and told him I would give up because I was feeling depressed. He was nice to me and after a few weeks he rang me up again proposing I start giving the Basic course at Santo Amaro which was a proper school unit. He said he trusted in my abilities and there I went to the far-away suburb to try and teach English again.
Bruno Caravati was the unit's director. I don't remember much about it except that the class-rooms were on the first floor of a commercial building and I became friends with one of the students who was a Basque young engineer who had been living in Brazil for only a short time. We probably became friends because I had a left-wing leaning and I knew about ETA and its struggle against the Spanish dictatorship. I left the Santo Amaro unit because it was too distant from Bela Vista where I lived.
Next I was teaching at the Vila Mariana unit which was on the 1st floor of a small shopping mall on rua Domingos de Moraes. 814. It was a friendly place with Elena as secretary and de-facto-'boss'. With time I realized that school-units with no formal director were more fun and 'old' Vila Mariana was such a place. 'Old' because the unit would soon move over to a big house next to the famous Brahma beer factory and the huge Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral just on the right-hand side of the entrance to the new Paraiso subway station.
At Vila Mariana I also met Mrs. Thomson - yes, her name was spelt without a P - a pert old lady who had been a teachers's counsellor and now was about to retire. She still gave some classes and took part in the training courses given by Valter Bresolin. I liked her for she had a strong ironic vein that was perceived by only a few. She was downright cheeky if I may say so and that was so rare among those people who taught English-as-a-foreign-language who were either too serious or stuck up. It seemed like she was always making fun of everything secretely. Once she was about to go to England and I asked her to bring me something about Ireland. She looked at me with a smirk but didn't say a word. She didn't forget my request even though I had met her for so short a time. She bought me a nice book about Ireland.
At Vila Mariana I met a young teacher called Julio Galvão, originally from Maranhão and we became pals for the longest time. Read more about me and Julio at this link:
Circa 1974-1975 I also taught English on Saturday mornings at the Ipiranga unit. It was a nice house on Avenida Dom Pedro I, 1048, not too far from the Monument. Mr. Umberto Blancato was the director but he was as least interfering as possible. He kept himself busy giving as many classes as he could. I taught a Free Conversation course from 8:00 AM to 12:00 noon. Three long hours for a group of faithful students. We had a quick coffee-break at 10:00, went back to class, then left at noon. I still don't know how I managed to make it interesting with so much time to fill in. I guess it must have been a combination of patient students and a dedicated teacher. I only stopped teaching at Ipiranga when I went back to the USA in July 1975.
During late 1974 and early 1975 I found time to attend 'refresher courses' given by Valter Bresolin at the brand-new Main Office on Avenida Lins de Vasconcelos, 2594. That's when I met a few good teachers and made a few friends. I had met Lidia Picolo at Francisca Miquelina's Saturday's refresher courses and now we renewed our friendship.
I also met Adilson, a young man who taught at Santo André who had just returned from the USA where he had stayed one year on an exchange-student-program. I remember Adilson used to sing along to Charlie Rich's 'The most beautiful girl in the world' (#1 at Billboard on 15 December 1973) which he must have listened a lot when he lived in the US.
Adilson also sang along to Jim Croce's 'I'll have to say I love you in a song' (# 9 on 27 April 1974) which he knew with a different set of words he must have learned from his school mates at his high-school-yard in the USA. The parody was pretty indecent and had a lot of the 7 dirty words that are banned by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). In case you wonder what they are here's the list: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. Adilson was a fun guy. I've never heard of him again.
When I went back to the USA in July 1975, I left my 2 Basic-course groups at Vila Mariana to Marcio, a young hopeful who had been a Fisk student and was now teaching. Lidia Picolo had flown on the 4th, I flew on the 5th and Paulo Wenzel, one of my students at Ipiranga's FC course flew to the USA around the same time. The only difference was that I would stay there for 1 and a half year.
Avenida Rebouças. 2942 before leaving for Av. Lins de Vasconcelos for the final examination; Dona Maria Turchinski, wearing a black blouse, was the Unit's mainstay.
1978 Christmas Party at Avenida Lins de Vasconcelos; Regina Vilaça is on the left; one can see Monica's back in the background between the two guys dancing.
Saturday afternoon fever with teacher Marcio, secretary Ivany and Mr. Fisk in person showing he knew how to boogie.
Nezel from Vila Mariana unit doing her best to liven up the party. Michael Mingucci and his wife Monica watch on the left.
a 1970 leaflet showing Escolas Fisk's main sites around the city and state of S.Paulo.
Fisk News 20 November 1970.
Festa de criação da Grande Fisk Centro - Depois de longos anos, as Escolas Fisk conseguem concretizar um velho sonho! Ampliar a Francisca Miquelina. A escola da Chica Mica, 118, é a primeira Fisk, o berço de toda a organização. Comoda por sua construção e localização, em pleno centro, a falta de espaço impedia a sua ampliação, obrigando as EF a manter, para poder atender todos os seu alunos, outros locais no miolo da cidade. Agora, conseguimos pegar (meio na marra), um conjunto idêntico no mesmo prédio, ocupando-o todo. Podemos agora, concentrar todo o nosso esforço num só lugar, dando aos nossos alunos todo o conforto que eles merecem.
Criamos a Grande Fisk Centro, que será formada pela fusão da antiga 'Chica Mica' e da XV de Novembro. Isso proporcionará maior movimento escolar, além de contínua atividade social ('Saturday Club', biblioteca, discoteca etc.) Assim, no dia 5 Dezembro 1970, haverá um dia inteiro de festividades, recepcionando os alunos que vem da XV. As 15:00 horas haverá conferência proferida por Mr. Leonard Fisk, irmão de Mr. Fisk, que virá dos USA para prestigiar as solenidades. Todos os alunos e amigos são convidados (não haverá convites individuais).
a newsletter with a lot of information.
from left to right: Nezel, Vila Mariana's secretary, Julio Galvao, Maria Turchinski, Rebouças's secretary & Luiz Amorim in 1977.
Julio, Maria Turchinski & Luiz Amorim at Fisk's Xmas party 1977.
Fisk-Rebouças circa 1978 was glamour itself...
some Fisk-Rebouças students were super-models in disguise...
students' snapshots at Fisk-Rebouças parking-lot.
Rebouças-Unit students take their finals at Lins de Vasconcelos.
students waiting to be interviewed as part of Final Examinations...
Rua XV de Novembro circa 1956.
Rua Apeninos in 1958 in Vila Mariana. Fisk had a school next to the Orthodox Church on the top.
26 paralles and diagonals... these are the steps to Ipiranga's Independence Monument which is two blocks away from Fisk's Ipiranga's Unit on Avenida D.Pedro I, 1.048.