Or how civil engineer Dzhani decided to roll up his sleeves and build his own future in the classroom as a math teacher
Dzhani seems to be one of those lucky people whose career has pretty much been chosen for him. Born into the family of an engineer with his own construction company and an older brother who had already followed in the footsteps of his father, the most natural thing for Dzhani was to follow their lead. He graduated from Vocational High School of Electronics “John Atanasoff” and then from the University of Civil Engineering and Architecture “Lyuben Karavelov” in Sofia.
“I was surrounded by blueprints at home. It was fascinating to see my father and older brother in action – designing an apartment building or working on a university project… More or less, that was how I decided to follow in their footsteps,” Dzhani explains his initial career choice.
But when he was still a high school student Dzhani discovered yet another source of inspiration – “motivated teachers” and “a wonderful class teacher”. He thought that perhaps someday he might work in education. This idea, inspired by his dedicated teachers, however, had to be put on the backburner. Dzhani got his degree in civil engineering and worked in his father’s construction company for a few years. He was happy, but something was missing. The inspiration he felt in the classroom was still there. Looking back, he realized that as a high school and university student he always helped his classmates, loved explaining and showing them how to solve problems, or reassured them, if anyone felt like they didn’t understand or wouldn’t be able to do something.
The decision to apply for Teach For Bulgaria’s program seemed only natural to him – a way to pursue the dream he had in high school.
To his friends, however, this drastic career change was quite surprising.
“At first my friends asked me how I came to that decision, why I would choose to work for next to nothing, so on and so forth. They thought it was strange that I would go from working as a civil engineer in my father’s company and potentially helping him grow our family business to teaching. Some of them still don’t get it even though they saw it for themselves and told me they had never heard me talk about my job with such passion before.”
According to Dzhani, Teach For Bulgaria participants are motivated and do not give up easily. He demonstrated the same perseverance when, despite the disapproval of his closest friends, he joined Teach For Bulgaria’s class of 2017-2019. Dzhani taught math and IT at 170 Secondary School “Vasil Levski” in the village of Novi Iskar for two years.
Dzhani with some of his colleagues from Teach For Bulgaria class of 2017-2019
Perseverance Is Key
As a beginner teacher Dzhani felt strongly supported by his colleagues at school. He also found much needed support in Teach For Bulgaria’s community of participants and team members. Working with students, however, motivated him the most. That was why he decided to keep teaching even after completing Teach For Bulgaria’s two-year program. He currently teaches math and IT at 97 Secondary School “Brothers Miladinov” in the neighborhood of Lyulin, Sofia. He still talks about his work and the commitment to stay in education with the same passion with which he once talked to his friends about making the right choice by becoming a teacher:
“This whole experience at school, we say it’s exhausting, at times difficult, and demotivating while it actually is wonderful… I have never felt as rewarded as I feel at school – when my students succeed and I know I have somehow contributed to their success. I stayed in the education system because I have a lot of unfinished work. I have a lot more to learn. I want nobody to feel ignored or lost in my class. I want to have the power to change the curriculum and the way we assess students. I want my team of fellow teachers to be strong and openly communicating about any educational issues. I want students to know why they come to school and go home with a sense of accomplishment. I want to be part of the change.”
Learn more about another inspiring math teacher, Georgi