The COVID-19 pandemic, for a second year in a row, provoked us to have the annual Teach For Bulgaria Summer Academy online. The online format allowed us to open the Academy to students from across the country and even abroad. During the last year we gathered significant experience and knowledge in supporting teachers online and we believe we therefore added value to the students with last year’s Summer Academy.
The Summer Academy as a format gives teachers a strong start for the new school year and a chance to practice all they have learned in theory in the classroom. They can then go ahead and learn how to form deep connections with their students, how to best adapt to their needs and how to develop their potential further.
Today we would like to tell you the story of one such teacher.
Alex was a fifth-grade student at “Neofit Rilski” School in the village of Dermantsi where she was born. The school in Dermantsi is one of Teach For Bulgaria first partners in the region and we’ve worked together ever since. Back in 2013, at the beginning of the school year, Natalia found out that she was going to have a new class teacher – a young Bulgarian language and literature teacher who had just started working at the school.
The fifth-grader couldn’t even begin to imagine how her relationship with Daniela,her new teacher, would develop. Daniela was a participant in Teach For Bulgaria’s program A New Way to Teaching, from which the Summer Academy is an irreplaceable part. Today, after all of these years the student and her teacher still remain close and Daniela is grateful for the opportunity to have been part of her Summer Academy as she could practice how to adapt to the individual needs of her students and form deep and meaningful connections with them.
This is what Alex had to share about her teacher: “Perhaps the biggest advantage of having Teach For Bulgaria teachers is that I learned to have more faith in my abilities. They showed us that everyone has a chance to grow, that everyone can do it. I’m not saying that the rest of the teachers in our village are less competent, but Daniela and her colleagues from Teach For Bulgaria’s program had amazing classes and we can whole-heartedly say that we felt understood, they helped us feel better at school”.
Daniela, on the other hand, is happy to have had the opportunity to work with students like Alex. Alex’s curiosity and drive made it a lot easier for Daniela to adjust to her new environment in Dermantsi. She arrived in the village at the end of August in 2013, after the intensive summer training which included the Summer Academy.
“I remember I had my students write an essay and I told them that they could raise their grade, if they integrated my feedback and resubmitted their work. And Alex resubmitted her essay several times. She did not give up or feel discouraged, she just wanted to give it her best,” remembers Daniela. Daniela joined Teach For Bulgaria’s program because she knew from personal experience how crucial it is to have access to good education and devoted teachers in order to change your life for the better.
After teaching for two years in Dermatsi, Daniela returned to Sofia, but she kept supporting students from the regions of Lukovit and Yablanitsa as part of her project School Miracles. The project started back in 2013 under the initiative of Daniela and several of her colleagues from Teach For Bulgaria’s program in the Lovech region. School Miracles started as a series of school events involving inter-school collaboration and student exchange. However, not too long after the project was launched, the teachers decided that it would make more sense to have two separate programs: career orientation (for high school students) and leadership development (for students of any age who are interested in working on community development projects). These teachers, who are part of the School Miracles team, also went through the Summer Academy and made long lasting friendships with their fellow colleagues and students there.
Years later, as part of School Miracles’ career orientation program, Daniela was Alex’s mentor. She put Alexin in touch with diverse professionals who were motivated to help her pick a career. Alex eventually went on and started a degree in Education at university, inspired by her teachers and eager to follow in her footsteps.
We thank you for your generous support, without which, we would not be able to meet and train such wonderful individuals like Daniela who then go on to inspire their students and help them find happiness and purpose in their life!
We hope you will remain supporting us and you will consider upgrading your regular donation or donating again if you were a one time donor!
All help is very much appreciated!
Teach For Bulgaria team