Dec 3, 2020

Start of the new school year 2020/2021

It has been a dynamic start of the new school year here at Telerik Academy School. The last three months laid the foundation for the entire school year and more than ever we relied on all our partners to help us face the challenges.

Your donor support makes training Bulgarian kids for the jobs of the future possible. Thank you for endorsing this cause!

Overview: What we accomplished with your help

During the current reporting period, we focused our time and energy on envisioning agile approaches that will allow us to successfully prepare, start and carry on our cohorts for the 2020-2021 school year within the uncertainties and changing conditions. We laid out a successful strategy and are happy to report that we have reached most of our core goals. Despite the pandemic, we increased our reach to:

  • 2,543 students, enrolled in our programs.
  • Within 113 cohorts, which will be conducted during the school year in 33 cities.
  • Working with 65 trainers throughout the country.

We expanded our portfolio

Based on the success of the 8-12 grade Web Development program and feedback from our parent and student surveys at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, in addition to the scaling of our existing programs, we decided to pilot a new Web Development program for 4-7 grade students with 1 cohort in Sofia. Our aim for this school year is to test, validate and prepare program content materials for teachers. If the program proves scalable, we will consider opening pilot cohorts outside Sofia during the next school year.

In total, we have 7 programs for the 4-7 and 8-12 grade age groups.

Admission campaign:

In September and October 2020 our admission campaign for the new school year took place. We increased its duration both based on the feedback of our teachers and the expectation that the new situation will change people’s habits in planning and choosing extracurricular activities. We changed our traditional more hands-on, locally administered approach to a more centralized and tech mediated. As a result of our massive marketing campaign, we had 174,500+ website visits during the admission period alone and more than 3,100 applicants. 

During the period September-October we constantly monitored the development of the pandemic in Bulgaria and the measures taken by the government. We anticipated that the measures would be gradually tightened which would affect the delivery format of our program. For this reason, we determined in advance four possible scenarios for the cohorts’ delivery and envisioned different approaches toward each one of them:

  • Online – cohorts which conduct the training in an online format.
  • Onsite – cohorts who can comply with the measures of the health authorities and can conduct onsite meetings.
  • Mixed – cohorts in which 50% of the students come onsite, the rest participate online, and the groups switch every one or two meetings.
  • Waiting – cohorts whose conditions necessitate us to wait and start delivery later. This usually happens for reasons like: the sponsors prefer to start the program when regulations will allow onsite meetings; teachers or their close relatives are currently ill with coronavirus, or have gone through it during the last weeks, and are not in shape to start teaching.

We are in constant communication with all local partners and update the status of each cohort dynamically with changes in the conditions.

Based on the current health measures and local conditions as of December 1st, we have:

  • 86 cohorts conducting our programs in an online format.
  • 12 cohorts with status “waiting” and will start as soon as possible.
  • 11 in-kind cohorts that are in an online format.
  • 4 in-kind cohorts which will start in February 2021.

What's Next

The 2020-2021 school year promises to be challenging and we will keep our flexible approach to try and answer the needs of our students as best as possible. We also keep focus on the future and have even more ambitious plans for the upcoming years. By the end of 2024, we aim to prepare another 10,500 students for the professions of the future, reaching 35+ Bulgarian cities, further develop our portfolio of programs and train more teachers to be the movers and shakers of Bulgarian IT and programming education.

 

We would like to take the time to extend our utmost gratitude to you, our donors, who are making this journey for all our kids possible. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without your support and we have a lot more planned for the future!

Stay well and thank you for supporting us!

Sep 1, 2020

Preparation for the new school year 2020/2021

Overview: What we accomplished with your help

It was an active summer in Telerik Academy School, focused on taking the lessons learned from the 2019-2020 school year and making sure we face the upcoming 2020-2021 stronger than ever.

In the period June-August we:

  • Ensured funding for 110 groups in 33 cities (a growth of 24% compared to last year): Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Vratsa, Gabrovo, Dospat, Zlatograd, Kardzhali, Lovech, Lukovit, Montana, Panagyurishte, Pleven, Parvomay, Razgrad, Rudozem, Sevlievo, Silistra, Smolyan, Stara Zagora, Harmanli, Yambol and the village of Ablanitsa, as well as for the first time in Belogradchik, Devin, Dobrich, Kyustendil, Madan, Pazardzhik, Peshtera, Ruse and Haskovo.
  • Solicited 52 partners, providing venues for our regional programs.
  • Trained 12 new teachers for the current academic year, which increases the total number to 62 contractors.
  • Updated our systems and prepared for the online application process.
  • Testing our new program in Web Development for 8-12 graders in 2 pilot cohorts in Vratsa and Plovdiv and kick-starting a cohort for 4-7 graders in Sofia, to test and update the program materials and content.
  • Testing new measuring tools for assessment of our students’ learning through the year.

Today we are announcing the opening of our admission campaign for the 2020-2021 school year. The applications will be held entirely online from September 1st till October 11th and are open to students grades 1-12 in 33 cities in the country. Students in grades 4-12 can choose between 5 interactive programs in the field of digital technology and programming, each with a duration of 100 teaching hours and corresponding to their age and interests. For the youngest (grades 1-3) programming workshops are planned in Sofia in partnership with CoderDojo Bulgaria.

We plan to start our trainings in November and give over 2000 children and young people the opportunity to study programming and digital sciences for free in our 110 groups throughout Bulgaria. We will make decisions on the format of the trainings (online or in-person) in accordance with the most current recommendations of the health authorities and the conditions of our local partners.

Programs for all ages

The trainings for 8-12 grades will be organized in Sofia and the country. With a practical orientation and based on modern technologies, they support the career orientation of students and their subsequent professional realization. High school students can choose between one of 3 programs:

- "Digital Sciences", in which they are acquainted with the professions of the future and how to be successful in them while learning about the latest technologies;

- "Game Development", in which they will use some of the widest spread technologies in the world: HTML, CSS and JavaScript and begin creating interactive computer games;

- "Web Development ", in which they learn the basics of programming and web design and how to create their own websites.

Trainings for 4-7 grades will also be held in Sofia and the country. They develop key digital skills, and students can choose between 4 programs:

- "Digital Sciences", where students learn what are the basic principles behind the new technologies and how to use them;

- "Game Development ", in which they learn to program while creating computer games;

- "Competitive Development ", where they acquire in-depth knowledge of programming, develop their logical thinking and prepare for computer science competitions;

- "Web Development ", in which they learn to create their first sites.

For children in 1-3 grades, programming workshops will be organized by CoderDojo Bulgaria in partnership with Telerik Academy School. The youngest students will learn to create interactive games and applications under the mentorship of experienced volunteers. They will be held in the training centre of the Academy in Sofia.

We’d like to take the time to once more extend our utmost gratitude to you, our donors, who are making this journey for all our kids possible. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without your support and we have a lot more planned for the future!

Stay well and thank you for supporting us!

Jun 3, 2020

Closing another successful academic year in Telerik Academy School

So much has changed in Telerik Academy School (TAS) during the current reporting period due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Constantly monitoring the international news, we knew we must act fast and we did so, preceding the declared state of emergency in Bulgaria. Our entire team worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of our students, teachers, colleagues, and their loved ones and to provide online access to our programs, which are traditionally implemented entirely in an on-site format.

In these circumstances, our mission - to prepare children for the digital future - is more relevant than ever, as the digital future is happening now. In the 2019-2020 school year alone, we are teaching programming and digital skills to over 2,000 students in grades 1-12.

The measures we tookoverview:

Prioritizing the health of our community, we stopped all face-to-face trainings a week before the Government announced a state of emergency. In the meantime, we had already begun preparations for the transition to an online learning format. A difficult task, given that our trainings are attended by thousands of children and take place in 102 schools in 25 settlements throughout the country, delivered by a network of 50 teachers. There was no possibility for a one-size-fits-all solution.

We solicited feedback from the teachers and parents of our students as well as our local partners to determine if they are ready to continue the trainings online and to find the best format and timing for their unique situation. At the end of March, 82% of our groups have transitioned to an online form of education. We continue to operate with the highest professionalism and quality.

Our top priority continues to be ensuring a positive and fulfilling learning experience for our students.

To ensure this:

  • We prepared detailed recommendations and online teaching best practices to our teachers, encouraging them to use all this accumulated knowledge as a basis and upgrade it to fit their circumstances.
  • We entrusted them with the necessary flexibility and freedom to adapt the approach to the needs and progress of their students.
  • We ensured our students have free access to online learning materials.
  • We provide regular tips for effective learning, coping strategies, and safe use of the Internet, to support our students’ and teachers’ easier and more effective adaptation to the new environment.
  • Our teachers organize weekly sessions, tracking the students’ development, and providing close communication and feedback, which are the basis of our trainings.

Some of our teachers share how the online trainings goes:

„Once again, Telerik Academy School helped the dreams of teachers, students, parents, and whole families come true with the opportunity to continue our sessions online. When I teach new material, the students listen and see what I write on the screen. Then they have time to write their own solution to the assignments. They all participate actively in helping each other, showing their solutions and everyone is happy and feels like a team again. I share a video recording of the whole lesson that they can watch later,“ Tsvetana, Plovdiv

„My biggest motivation in this new endeavour comes from the enthusiasm of the children. The trainings at Telerik Academy School are "entertainment" for them and an opportunity to communicate with each other,“ Todorka, Veliko Tarnovo

„Efficiency is a matter of good organization and ability to adapt to new conditions. For me, positive attitude and optimism, the ability to look at every situation from the positive side, to find meaning, to learn a lesson are key,“ Petya, Vratsa

How do students cope with online school and our trainings?

„As a future graduate, the priorities and interests in my life have long been clear. I want to study programming in the Netherlands this fall, and I think that Telerik Academy School trainings are extremely important for achieving my goal. Studying at TAS is my key priority,“ Yanaki, student

„It is important for me to combine school and my studies at Telerik Academy School because I want to learn to program. I think the Game Development program is the right place for me. I make sure to combine my commitments, before each TAS session I finish all my tasks related to school. This way I can fully focus on the new material,“ Rumen, student

„To optimize the workload, I assess which of the tasks require the most effort and do them first, so that the easier tasks remain for later. Since the tasks from Telerik Academy School are quite interesting to me, I am motivated to do them even later in the day. At school, no one shows us what our future opportunities are. I think that studying at the Academy will help me move in the right direction for me and that's why it's worth the effort,“ Krasimira, student

How did we manage?

Last month we received the wonderful news that Hugh C. and Thomas Lord Fund through the GlobalGiving platform awarded a special donation of $15,000.00 to our project „Prepare Bulgarian Kids for the Jobs of the Future“. The additional funds contributed to the smooth transition to the online format and the end of the school year and provide bigger stability for the coming uncertain months. We would like to express our gratitude to Hugh C. and Thomas Lord Fund for their investment in the development of the future digital leaders of Bulgaria as well as the GlobalGiving team for their continuous support.

We would like to also thank the whole Telerik School Academy team, partners, teachers, parents, students for their tireless work, positivity, and curiosity, adapting to the challenges we face daily.

Last, but not least, to all the individual contributors, who supported us through these turbulent months – we couldn’t have done it without you.

Closing another successful academic year in Telerik Academy School (TAS).

In the 2019-2020 academic year, we educated 2000 students in 25 cities in Bulgaria enrolled in 102 cohorts. In partnership with 49 venue partners and 50 contractors, we almost doubled our network compared to last year. Currently, our students are working on their final projects and we are excited to see the results.

We are currently planning for the next academic year.

We are currently launching our 2020-2021 campaign for new cohort sponsorships around the country. We are looking to expand current and develop new partnerships that will allow us to provide even more children with access to our trainings.

Preparing for the 2020-2021 school year, we will further develop our programs and train more teachers to be the movers and shakers of education and prepare students for the professions of the future.

We’d like to take the time to once more extend our utmost gratitude to you, our donors, who are making this journey for all our kids possible. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without your support and we have a lot more planned for the future!

Stay well and thank you for supporting us!

 
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