Silvana was born to parents with modest education who nevertheless read widely. Though she was labeled with learning difficulties, her parents’ determination to see her succeed meant that these were overcome with the right teachers. Her own daughter, Catalina, was born with cerebral palsy and passed away in 2009, but continues to be Silvana’s inspiration.
Silvana began working as a teacher before qualifying. She is now Principal of a mainstream secondary school, but has decided to open its doors to everyone, and the school now has pupils with disabilities such as spina bifida and autistic spectrum disorder. She manages this by building an inclusive culture and ensuring the teachers are on board. Silvana and her husband have also written a book about her experiences with Catalina and how they have changed her perspective on teaching. Some of her pupils with disabilities have since gone on to study Law; others with developmental disorders have been helped into work.
Silvana’s work has attracted recognition in the press and through awards for the promotion of reading. Several pieces of her work have been published in educational magazines and she has contributed to educators’ workshops with her approach. If she wins the prize, she would like to open another school based on the same principles, stabilize the funding for her present projects, open a nursery in the school, and fund her travel to offer training to teachers in other regions.