The 11th edition of Work in Progress

Last week we celebrated the 11th edition of Work in Progress, the biggest and most beloved art exhibition in our school. Ever since November, our students from primary and middle school made use of their creativity in various multidisciplinary activities. This year, our main focus has been Design in its various forms.  

Students from middle school learned how to create clothes from scratch – they learned how to use a sewing machine, experimented with decorating techniques and prepared a fashion show in which they presented their final products.

Students from primary school created a pastry shop – they imagined, designed and built a product from idea to its physical form, using both analog and digital techniques and software. They experienced both digital 3D modeling, clay modeling, and 3D printing bringing together both analog and digital means of production.

It was also a great opportunity for our high school students that study Art and Design to share their projects.

Here are some words from our teachers:

Andreea Geamănu: This year’s challenge was to get all students excited about fashion design and the process behind creating a piece of clothing. All the pieces in this fashion collection were entirely created by our middle school students, from choosing the fabric, understanding how to use a sewing pattern, assembling all pieces using the sewing machine, experimenting with decorating techniques and creating the overall look. Each class created at least one item of clothing or accessory and every student had a contribution to this process. If you look at the displays next to the mannequins, you will see that there was a complex creative process behind this final product, a series of drawings, collages, magazine inspiration and you can also see some of our middle school students in the middle of the action. 


The students from the Printmaking Club came up with a big challenge for themselves: to find as many ways as possible to use stencil art, a very versatile technique that they learned during our lessons. They are proposing an interior design and fashion design approach and they created a thematic wallpaper, tapestry, curtains and an outfit, all with the “Tropical” theme in mind. They decided on the theme, chose the elements, cut out the stencils and proceeded to print different types of materials. When you visit the minipark art station, expect to see a wide range of materials and get transported right away to an exotic resort. While you’re there, don’t forget to take a look at the artworks created by the Book Illustration Club.


The students from the Book Illustration Club found themselves in a fantasy world, where Santa lives in Greece and plant pots play the guitar. They created 3D paper illustrations based on the surrealist short stories imagined by students at the beginning of the school year during the art lessons. They chose to use this medium because they considered it a little different than the usual illustration style they see everywhere. Together with the illustrations, you can also see some typographic experiments. The students wrote the surrealist short stories letter by letter on paper using wooden letters traditionally used in letterpress machines. 


Bogdan Topîrceanu: Before we get into the theme of this year’s exhibition, we think we must clarify the reasons behind this year’s endeavor. Usually, Work in Progress displayed an array of expressive and colorful fine art drawings and paintings. This year though, we thought we might switch gears in order to show that art can be more than just a relaxing activity. 


We often fail to conceive just how important drawing and art are in everyday life, because we are used to seeing art as only something hanging on the walls of a gallery. That is what we are taught, through the prism of the institutional theory of art: that art is dependent on an art audience and an art space. But “art” is only a word which we started using 500 years ago, during the Renaissance. And drawing and craftsmanship have been present in the human experience way before that. 


The oldest intentional drawings made by Homo Sapiens go back to roughly 73.000 years ago, but the oldest drawing traces go back to roughly 500.000 years ago, to Homo Erectus. Drawing has shaped the human brain in ways that might not be evident at first, but which unravel at a more serious scrutiny, by being one of the first technologies developed by our minds. And yes, we said technology, for it is the basis on which mathematics was first developed, and further on, written language, two of the main elements of human science, knowledge and ultimately civilisation. Drawing is the means through which our brains manage to turn physical elements into abstract concepts, around which we can more easily wrap our minds around. And thus, we do not think it is a coincidence, that all, and we mean ALL human made objects rely on a drawing, or a mental image of the future object we are going to build. You see, drawing is not only a sketch on a white paper, but a mental blueprint for objects not yet in existence. 


Society regards the activity of art making as a child’s play, and easily dismisses artistic endeavors as unserious and maybe even pretentious, in the face of more “serious” fields, such as science and technology, regardless of the fact that both heavily rely on drawing and imagery in order to further their development. Art, theory and technology all are interwoven, and cannot exist one without the other. And this is something that we strongly believe we as teachers should highlight in our classes, in order for students to understand how the elements of our world connect to each other, and understand that what they learn in an art class, is not only a therapeutic activity, but can become a useful tool for testing and developing their own ideas.

And this brings us to the second part of this explanation.


This idea of art, theory and technology as a single organism permeated into this year’s activities. While imagining the curriculum for 2022, we had this idea of teaching entrepreneurship using art. And what better way of doing that if not by challenging the students to imagine their own brand and business. Thus students were able to gain real world skills, which they can also use outside class, and even further on, when they grow up. As we experimented in the past 2 years, children can learn in parallel how to develop both analog and digital skills in resolving the same tasks, thus gaining better control over both the immediate reality and also the digital tools at their disposal.


While brainstorming ideas for what type of business might be fun and interesting for them to do, some images of Claes Oldenburg’s The Shop (1961) popped into our minds. A collection of handmade fake pastry products, built out of common materials and painted with industrial enamels. Thus, the theme was set: a pastry shop for the students to imagine from scratch, with the main objective: to imagine, design and build a product from idea to its physical form, using both analog and digital techniques and software.


For lower primary, we mostly focused on drawing and coloring, introducing a couple of notions of typography and lettering which they used in imagining their shops’ names. For the upper primary we upped the game and expanded the project, from a few weeks, which was the regular Work in Progress timeline, to a few months. This extra time let the student experience a much more diverse learning process. Thus, they started out with a blank business canvas, which they learned how to use and on top of which they built their brand, both in name and image. They researched other pastry brands and branding ideas using Behance, they vectorized their hand drawn logos using Vectornator, they designed their 3D printed products in Tinkercad, and designed their packaging using Sketchbook, Procreate and even Notes. They learned about the difference between a logotype and a logogram, the anatomy of letters and how to build new, interesting and intricate typefaces. They experienced both 3D modeling and clay modeling, bringing together both analog and digital means of production, and also made their first attempts at building a functional and aesthetic container for their products. All of these individual activities have been reunited in one design, representing the facade of their pastry shop.

The pinnacle of their efforts: an intricate display containing all the elements they managed to assemble in the last 5 months of sustained work. This whole endeavor represents a STEAM pilot for primary, from which we have learned on a pedagogical level, at least as much as the students did following our lead. We identified both opportunities and challenges for both ourselves and the students, which we will use only to further develop and adjust the idea onto their own needs. 

Support for Ukraine

The victims of the war in Ukraine need our immediate help to have access to basic goods that will help them to live from day to day.

Avenor College joins the initiative of the Black Sea School Group, a group of COBIS schools in the Black Sea area, to support and assist the victims of the war in Ukraine by encouraging donations to the Romanian Red Cross.

The mission of the Humanity has no borders initiative, initiated by the Romanian Red Crossis to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Romania who need shelter, food, personal hygiene products and bedding.

Please donate to give an extra chance to these victims, especially vulnerable women and children who are seeking refugee and need our help.

Donations can be made HERE.


Council of British International Schools (COBIS) is a global membership association for high quality British international Schools. COBIS schools can be found in over 75 countries worldwide and all member schools are committed to quality assurance and the delivery of a British style education.

Black Sea Schools Group is a loose grouping of COBIS (Council of British International Schools) schools in countries around the Black Sea Region (Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine). The group works together to further enhance regional student engagement and staff professional development and networking.

Față în față cu adolescența – ghid practic pentru părinți

Cum abordăm adolescentul și adolescența? Care sunt principale frici pe care le avem? Cum depășim conflictele?

Oana Cuesdeanu, psiholog și supervizor în psihologie clinică, psihoterapeut și trainer în psihoterapie pozitivă dar și mama a doi copii, unul aflat în pragul adolescenței, oferă mai jos o serie de răspunsuri care ne pot schimba perspectiva asupra acestei perioade provocatoare.

Vă rugăm să ne spuneți câteva cuvinte despre dumneavoastră – psihologul și mama Oana Cuesdeanu și despre decizia de a sprijini comunitatea Avenor prin organizarea atelierelor pe tema adolescenței dedicate părinților.

Oana Cueșdeanu: Sunt o mamă la pas cu adolescența pentru că deja cochetez cu ritmul ei prin comportamentul adoptat de fiica mea cea mare. ”Acasă” s-a transformat într-un dinamic punct de întâlnire al prietenilor pe care îi are, așa că pot gusta această etapă din perspective diferite, prin mai multe voci. ”Mama, a zis o prietenă despre tine că…” a devenit un bun exercițiu de a mă privi mai des în oglindă și de a avea o atenție mai mare asupra atitudinii pe care o am în confortul rutinei zilnice de acasă. E un deliciu să le văd lipite de bucătărie, acolo unde în timp ce mai gătesc povestim diverse. În același cadru întâlnim și gelozia simpatică a surorii mai mici, care mai intervine temperând dinamica.

Ca terapeut am avut și am ocazia să întâlnesc adolescenți curajoși să se exprime. Momentan, alături de mai mulți antrenori din țară desfășurăm un proiect la nivel național adresat tinerelor sportive. Așa avem oportunitatea să înțelegem mult mai bine dinamica vârstei, așa cum se manifestă ea în mai multe colțuri ale țării.

Este o provocare să găsești un limbaj comun, cuvinte cheie și concepte la care să adere și pe care să le integreze în gândirea lor atât tinerii cât și părinții.

Avenor are o abordare unică. Ne-a ajutat să ne simțim ”acasă” și spun asta pentru că acum un an și jumătate ne-am desprins de Ardeal din dorința de a ne vedea copiii zâmbind când ies de la școală. Așa ne-am stabilit în București. Am visat mereu să găsesc suport în echipa educațională, să pot avea un dialog cu profesorii pe care îi respect pentru creativitatea și bogăția minții lor, pentru că au înțeles abordarea minții prin suflet și pentru că efectiv se întrec în a găsi proiecte zilnice în care să implice tinerii. Atelierele le văd ca pe un schimb de experiență prin care mă îmbogățesc mental și în plus îmi acordă oportunitatea de a relaționa cu oameni pasionați și dornici să spargă limite.

Care sunt principalele frici ale părinților aflați față în față cu adolescența? Dar ale adolescenților?

O.C: În fața adolescenței părinții devin anxioși. O privesc neputincioși uneori. Și asta pentru că uită să se detașeze de controlul și de limitările inconștiente pe care le au inserate de generația care le-a oferit educație.

”Punem accent pe educație” îmi spun părinții des.

”Adică pe performanță?” îi întreb.

Adolescența este o perioadă de tranziție spre etapa de adult. Nu ne ajunge doar să fim performanți. E important să dobândim autonomie, să fim flexibili din punct de vedere emoțional, chiar empatici, să avem în bagajul nostru informații despre: cine sunt, cum gândesc, cum mă exprim și cum mă cert, dar mai ales cum gestionez relațiile cu cei din jurul meu.

Competența cognitivă îmbinată cu cea emoțională, cu o încredere și o stimă de sine stabile vor fi pașaport spre autenticitate. Mă gândesc că asta ne dorim de fapt – tineri autentici care să creadă în vocea lor.

Adolescenții cred că nu își pot mulțumi părinții. Asta este teama lor cea mai mare – că îi dezamăgesc prin performanța lor inconstantă și că nimic din ceea ce fac nu este bine sau suficient. Știința ne spune că în situații de stres hormonul THP are un efect invers la adolescenți, adică anxietatea va crește în loc să fie moderată. Odată ce îi ținem sub presiunea performanței, ei vor dezvolta elemente anxioase, uneori cu apariția de atacuri de panică și chiar cu elemente de depresie.

Cum putem depăși – ca părinți – conflictele pe care le aduce cu sine această perioadă controversată?

O.C: Adolescența este o etapă atât de vie! Dacă înțelegem câteva reguli simple ale creierului adolescentin, această etapă va fi mai ușor de abordat. E ca atunci când plecăm la drum și rămânem atenți la regulile de circulație, fără să ne lăsăm distrași de altceva.

O tornadă nu va distruge în mod intenționat o casă”. Este un citat adunat din pagini de carte care ne atenționează că poate deveni distructiv să luăm personal fiecare conflict în care suntem invitați.

Cum vă certați acasă?” întreb părinții. ”Trebuie să ne certăm?!” mi se răspunde? Văd conflictul ca pe cea mai frumoasă dovadă de încredere. Nu îl putem ignora. Este important să le arătăm cum se procedează, cum intri și cum te detașezi de un conflict, ce limbaj poți utiliza, care sunt consecințele emiterii de judecați și ce înseamnă să gestionezi emoții puternice.

Prin conflict tânărul se descarcă verbalizând tot ce acumulează în timp. Este un fenomen de reglaj intern fără de care nu văd cum putem rămâne în echilibru. Când plouă, uneori ne udăm până la piele. Așa ”depășim” conflictele, scufundându-ne profund în ele.

Părintele de adolescent – model sau detectiv? Care este scenariul optim pe care un părinte ar trebui să îl adopte?

O.C: Detectivul scanează fiecare indiciu și greșeală ca să poată aduce în lumină ”vinovatul”. Dacă ne așezăm în postura detectivului devenim rapid ”persecutori”. Varianta optimă este de a fi și de a rămâne model. Mai ales că inserția comportamentelor se realizează prin fenomenul de imitație. Comportamentele noastre devin busola lor interioară până în momentul în care vor avea, ca adulți, curajul să o schimbe.

Ca model poți rămâne preocupat de echilibru – e ca atunci când navighezi cu o barcă. Ai nevoie de un scop pentru care navighezi și trebuie să fii pregătit să reacționezi oportun și în caz de furtună dar și când este senin. Provocarea pe care o lansez părinților este să îi întreb care cred că este scopul călătoriei lor alături de adolescentul de lângă ei?

Cum ne putem pregăti pentru această perioadă dificilă? Dar pe copii, îi putem pregăti astfel încât traversarea perioadei 14 – 18 ani să fie mai ușoară?

O.C: Autocunoașterea este instrumentul autentic în fața necunoscutului. Atâta timp cât înțelegi și accepți, ca adult, fiecare parte din puzzel-ul personalității tale, îți va fi util să poți face față adolescenței, pe care nu aș numi-o acuzativ ”dificilă”. Ne scoate din rutină, ne inundă cu dopamină, ne forțează să stăm în aceeași barcă cu partenerul și să luăm împreună decizii. Este o etapă care ne ridică întrebări când simpatice, când grele, în care temele existențiale de care am tot fugit se cristalizează tot mai clar.

Adolescentul este extrem de preocupat de moarte. Și are nevoie de răspunsuri. Nu le primește de la părinte, le caută în altă parte, de regulă în mediul virtual. O altă tema care îi atrage atenția este sexualitatea. O poți aborda relaxat la un ceai. Feminitatea și masculinitatea ca roluri sunt exersate zilnic. Le poți sprijini să se contureze echilibrat. Iar iubirea și felul în care se transmite sunt temele preferate. Atingerea, gustul primului sărut, senzualitatea, toate se trăiesc, sper că va mai amintiți, la vârsta adolescenței. Iar pentru asta avem de furnizat informații, de explicat și educat constant, într-un limbaj simplu, telegrafic, dezbrăcat de catastrofizari și anxietăți anticipatorii negative de tipul ”ai să pățești ca…”.

Nu scapă nici mamele, nici tații de această etapă a întrebărilor. Este nevoie de fiecare dintre ei. Sper că suntem deja conștienți că educăm fie prin prezența, fie prin absența noastră.

Care sunt cele mai importante sfaturi pe care le aveți pentru părinții de adolescenți? Care este firul roșu pe care aceștia trebuie să îl urmeze pentru a parcurge alături de copiii lor etapa adolescenței?

O.C. Copilul aude și vede mai mult decât înțelege prin cuvinte și asta pentru că porțiunea prefrontală a creierului își încheie procesul de formare între 20-24 ani. Astfel, adolescentul va fi cuprins de impulsivitate și va lua decizii greșite fără să vrea. Adultul îi poate fi sprijin atunci când are de luat decizii importante, atunci când simte că are nevoie să se descarce sau atunci când vrea să afle dacă este iubit.

Acceptarea, încrederea și flexibilitatea sunt ingrediente de bază în relația cu adolescentul. Nu există două creiere la fel, așa cum nu există doi adolescenți identici. Dacă ne păstrăm în minte scopul, ca de exemplu ”îmi doresc ca etapa asta să o gust cu bucurie”, vom avea o direcție clară.


Ioana’s interviews: Teaching with respect

How do you become a teacher who has excellent results with all the students in the class? With love, respect and trust, says Mihaela Ancuța, Mathematics Curriculum Leader at Avenor International High School. But, before anything else, it takes a huge dose of passion and dedication for this profession.

We invite you to find out more from a new interview in the series about the passions and talents of our community members, created by Ioana, a student in Grade 12.

Ioana: Tell us a couple of words about Mihaela Ancuta. How would you introduce yourself?

Mihaela Ancuța: I am a person who always tries to have a smile on her face. I accomplish this especially at school because here I forget about all the other things that are going on in my life and because here I get positive energy from my students and colleagues. Besides this, I can also say that I am very passionate and devoted to my career and I feel like I am never getting tired. All the time I want to do more; the only thing getting in my way is time! I consider myself an honest person, but tactful, always recognising my mistakes and trying  to learn from them in order to become better next time. This is also how I encourage my students to be: to admit their mistakes and try their best to fill in these gaps and to correct them in the future. I am an empathetic person, who gets emotional easily when the situation is sensitive, but I don’t consider this aspect as a flaw, but rather a quality. In my opinion, when people are like this it means that they care about those around, and when you care, you do nothing that can hurt what surrounds you.

Ioana: Where does your passion for mathematics come from? 

Mihaela Ancuța: My passion for mathematics comes from my teacher from grade 8, who seemed to me as a mysterious person. I remember that she wore glasses and that I wanted to look like her, so I told my mother that I wasn’t seeing very well and that I had to go for a check-up. I won’t ever forget when I went to my medical appointment thinking what to do when the doctor will look at my eyes and notice that I can actually see perfectly. I decided, then, to stare at a light bulb for a longer period of time – “maybe something will happen to me”. After this, I had to place my head on a machine and the doctor told me that maybe I have 0.25 at one eye and I would agree “yes,yes, that’s right!!”. I remember that I chose my glasses to look the same as the teacher’s, but I couldn’t walk on the street when wearing them. In order for me to climb the stairs, I would raise my glasses from my nose to see where to step. They bothered me, but I didn’t admit it to anyone!  

So my passion for mathematics comes from this teacher from 8th grade. After this, I was lucky to have another teacher in high school that inspired me a lot, and this made my passion for mathematics to continue. My passion for school, for becoming a teacher, came before my passion for mathematics. I identified it very early, when I realised that I really liked writing on the blackboard. I remember that, in the first grade, we didn’t have a sponge with water to wipe off the board, so I took out my handkerchief from my pocket and I watered it to make the board beautiful. I was passionate to write on boards with chalk also outside of school. I had at home a cardboard box on which I would write, then erase everything with water, then wait for it to dry up and write on it again. I would also write on my bedroom door sometimes, but then erase everything immediately so that my mother wouldn’t see. However, sometimes, even though I would wash it, white stains would remain on the door. I wrote, of course, on the walls as well. I liked explaining to other people  different things. I had imaginary characters to whom I would teach.

Ioana: How do you feel being part of the Avenor College community both as a teacher and as a parent?

Mihaela Ancuța: I feel amazing – happy and fulfilled! I feel that this is the place where I can grow and improve, I can say that Avenor gave me wings! And for my child, I believe that it is the best school that we could have chosen! He is very proud to be part of the Avenor community.

Ioana: You have amazing results with each and every student of yours. What is your secret? 

Mihaela Ancuța: I simply love them! What is behind this sentence depends a lot on the relationship with the students, on the respect that you show you have for them – because only then it can be mutual – and on a good plan and structure, considering that time is limited (usually when you are preparing for an exam you only have a year, maybe two to prepare, or even a couple of months). Of course, you can deviate from this established plan in exceptional cases. Another factor is represented by high expectations, and also when I identify in my class students that have low self esteem or that are considered maybe weaker by others, I treat them exactly like the the most advanced students in class. By treating them in the same way, their confidence in themselves grows and they will do everything in their power to not let you down. This means that they will learn and they will obtain very good results.

There is this story in the biography of Thomas Edison that says that one day, he came home and gave his mother a note from school. His mother read it out loud for him because he wanted to know what was written on the note: “Your son is a genius. Our school is too unprepared for him and doesn’t have enough teachers to support him. Please, take care of him yourself!”. After many, many years, Edison finds the note on which it was actually written: “Your son is addled [mentally ill]. We won’t let him come to school any more.” This is the secret: to encourage students!

Ioana: You have been and still are in contact with both the Romanian and the Cambridge educational system. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of them?

Mihaela Ancuța: I would group this comparison in two parts: secondary and high school. For secondary school, the students in the Romanian system learn concepts in more depth than the ones in the Cambridge system. This can be an advantage because the level of knowledge is higher, but also a disadvantage because these concepts can be learned mechanically, forced, and the notions may not be understood well. However, in the Cambridge system, the students learn concepts that can be more applied to the day to day life. Usually, they don’t get into very much detail, but the notions are diverse.

In high school, in the Romanian system, the students have to study Mathematics, if they choose the „real” (Maths and Sciences) profile. On the other hand, in the Cambridge system, they choose what subjects they want to study, and this comes with the assumption that students have passion and skills for the respective subject. This is easier for both the teachers, because they will work with students that want to be there, and for the students, because they are surrounded by people who share the same passions. The content of the Cambridge A Level syllabus is superior to the Romanian Baccalaureate and I believe that it has many more advantages from this point of view.

Ioana: How do you spend your free time? 

Mihaela Ancuța: I try to spend as much time as possible with my children, of course. Because they are still young, they wish to play a lot, so we do many activities together – games, we dance, sing, fool around, have fun. When the children are not around, I like to search for information, explore YouTube and the Internet because only then I have the time to do this. I like to get informed about what is happening in other schools (of course, my focus is on the things that are related to the educational system). In addition to this, another priority of mine is personal development. I went and still go to many different conferences that I find out about on the Internet. Recently I went to a conference about “How to raise amazing kids” and I took notes so that later I could share what I found out with my friends and with anyone who considers they need this. Of course, these workshops that I attend are about educating parents, but also teachers. In my free time, even though I don’t do it often, I like to go shopping. I don’t like to cook, but to clean, I do – it relaxes me.


Ioana: I am curious now that you told me about the most recent conference that you attended, how do you raise amazing kids?

Mihaela Ancuța: The same way in which you raise amazing students! By loving them, trusting them, respecting them, by avoiding getting mad at them and by teaching them to understand their mistakes! You don’t ever have to act superior around them or act like you are smarter than them, but you have to be always there for them in their learning process, thinking at the same time and holding their hands so that they grow both emotionally and physically.

Ioana: The Avenor Community has extended also in the Greenfield neighborhood. I know that you have recently taken the decision to move here, how do you feel the connection between these two communities? 

Mihaela Ancuța: It is the best decision I’ve made! I am thrilled that I live this close to the school. Time is not an inconvenience anymore, I arrive in a couple minutes to school and in this way I have time for other things – I don’t waste the 4 hours that I used to spend commuting before. I am glad also that when I go shopping for groceries, on the street or in the park with my children, I meet with someone I know. Students see me when I am on the balcony, I wave to them when they pass in front of my apartment. I like that when I look outside I see the school, when I come back from downtown in the evening, I turn my head to see if everything is ok – if the lights are turned off, etc. Overall it is excellent, I like it very much!

At the initiative of Mihaela Ancuța, 𝗠𝗔𝗧𝗛-𝗟𝗬-𝗡𝗘𝗪𝗦 appeared, the first Avenor mathematics magazine, coordinated by a team of middle school and high school students.

You can read all the issues of the magazine here.

Avenor Scouting Summer School – a learning experience based on the scout values

For over 100 years the scout movement has been the largest and most relevant movement for children and teenagers because it is based on two factors that inspire those who wish to create an impact in the society through education: an educational method and values. Avenor College has incorporated this educational system for over 10 years in order to create ‘The Best Future’ for its community: students, parents, teachers, staff, and partners.

From this “Character Match”, four years ago we created the “Avenor Scouting Summer School” concept. We have let ourselves be enthused and inspired by learning in and around nature and planned weekly trips and educational activities in order to raise an appetite for exploration and knowledge among children. We primarily use the symbolic scouts’ framework “The Jungle Book”, by Rudyard Kipling, to guide children about friendship, courage, the beauty of small things, the importance of rules, and creativity during the personal development sessions. We are inspired by the scouts’ laws and the very well known scout promise to communicate to children the ideas of ‘making everything possible’, ‘to leave the world better than they found it’, to ‘always be prepared’ for action and to fulfil all of the aforementioned, not forgetting ‘One for all and all for one’. We have adopted‚ the ’learning through action’ principle in order to discover and educate future abilities in society: leadership, public speaking and teamwork.

The children who attend Avenor Scouting Summer School live a learning experience inspired by the scout movement, but they will not become scouts. Looking towards the future, we imagine that they will let themselves be inspired and will choose to contribute to a better world with the help of the scouting movement.

Avenor travels on its own path and when it encounters other travellers who aim for their best possible future, it feels even more confident that co-creation is always the best direction.

This year, Avenor Scouting Summer School will take place between July 9th  and August 10th at the nursery location. Find out more about registration, types of programme and activities by accessing this link.

By Cristina FARCAȘ

Avenor Summer School Coordinator

Deputy Educational Coordinator & Nursery Green Teacher

Skills or results? Both

Over the last 20 years or so, in global pedagogy acquiring skills is considered the ultimate goal of learning. And rightly so. What is the use of knowledge, information, definitions, specialised terminology if not to help develop general and specific skills? It is common sense. This shift of attention from “knowledge” to “learn to do” to “learn to be” completely transformed different educational systems, even the Romanian system, with all its awkwardness and inconsistencies.

It is also a fact that insinuated itself gradually, despicably, unobserved and not only into the highly competitive world of Romanian education but also in larger American, English, even Nordic communities and became the (unwritten) rule of the game for the evaluation process in schools, ranking graduates only by results. In theory, we are referring to the pedagogy of happiness, learning by discovery, the pleasure to come and stay in school. In practice, we construct and deconstruct rankings for performant schools, prestigious universities, maybe even for nursery schools that promise Harvard candidates and have waiting lists composed before the future students were even planned to be born. We live in a paradox, are we not?

Avenor College has been making its way in this paradoxical world for 10 years. Because we really believe and put into practice a system of learning directed towards competencies, learning with joy and love, enquiry and discovery are considered essential steps in shaping future adults. However, since our first grade 8 students graduated and many families started to aspire to Avenor for any type of class, the situation of the results comes up quite often in the conversations that are part of the admission process: “We have been following you. You are always in the top 10 schools in Bucharest. We care about our child’s happiness, but it is no secret that we are also interested in the results at the end of this cycle of continuous happiness”.

I think it is a very honest point of view, without any type of hypocrisy. The situation is not limited to strictly monitoring the results of our students at the National Evaluation exams but involves also monitoring every year the scores for the Cambridge Checkpoint exams, mandatory for the admission at Avenor International High School.

Skills or test scores? This year, all of our Grade eight graduates have achieved exceptional results either at the Cambridge Checkpoint exam – 5.8 at Maths and 5.9 at English on a scale of maximum 6.0 points – or at the National Evaluation: 10 in Romanian, 9.85 in Mathematics. Skills, therefore results!

Science teacher Gareth is the new Grade 9 Form Tutor

Starting in September, our Science teacher Gareth will be the Grade 9 form tutor at Avenor International High School. He is very excited to make students feel part of a well-knit team and be like a third parent, demanding but also very supportive. He will continue to teach Science in a way that will allow students to understand the world they live in and how they can change it. He is also going back to school, to improve his Romanian.

You will be the Form Tutor for Grade 9 next year and many of the students who know you are very excited about that. What should they expect from you?

Form tutors are an important figure in the development of the student, they are like the third parent based at the school. They create links and harmony between the parents at home, the management of the school and the academic life of both the students and the subject teachers who deliver their education. The role of the tutor is to facilitate and support the students in their social and emotional development so that they are best equipped to deal with their job of learning. They are the ones that students turn to first when they need help, someone who they can trust and someone they know will support them. The form tutor must set very high expectations for the students both morally and academically.

I have a very close relationship with the students that finished Grade 8. I worked to prepare them for chemistry and physics in the Romanian system, as well as in applied science in the Cambridge system. I taught them more hours per week than other teachers and developed a mutual respect. They helped me and I helped them.

It is important that new students and existing students all feel a part of the Grade 9 team. This will not be difficult since the atmosphere at Avenor is very welcoming and community focused. I’ve always developed very close-knit tutor groups that can rely on each other as well as on me for support. I also have a lot of experience in helping students with the difficulties of growing up and finding their place in the world. It’s a challenging time in the student’s life and the expectations of today are very different. The world is changing so fast sometimes students are unsure of their place in it. There are also the same issues that all teenagers face regardless of school or country like boyfriends/girlfriends, what’s cool, how others perceive their image etc. I will be there for all students any time they need help. My door is always open.

Science is one of the classes Avenor students enjoy the most. How would you describe your Science classes to our new and prospective high school students?

The science programme for the students is fun and develops the key skills of scientific enquiry but also teaches areas that are fun and relevant to students. In addition to the topics covered in the Romanian system, students also learn about renewable energy for the future, drugs, alcohol, and health, as well as new materials that can be used to fabricate the technology of the future.

The science classes at Avenor are based on the Cambridge system of scientific enquiry and problem solving, whereas the Romanian system is based on memory recall. I’ve talked a lot in the past about the differences in the educational systems, but it boils down to a few main points.

  • Very few students will actually use science knowledge directly in their future and it’s a waste of time to just remember endless pages of facts (although very good for winning a pub-quiz). It’s the scientific skills that are valued.
  • The scientific method of observing something that happened, deciding why it might have happened, researching and testing to see if you were correct and readjusting your ideas/theories based on observable evidence are very important in all areas of employment. For example, many of our students want to work in enterprise and business and the ability to analyse what products have sold, why they sold and develop strategies to increase sales are a form of the scientific method. In short, our science programme teaches students how to observe the world around them and what they can do to change it. This is a very powerful tool to have.
  • Finally, having practical experiments for students makes the learning more real and fun. It allows students to relate to content that might not always be clear from a book. As humans, we learn best by interacting with our environment. You could always teach a baby to walk by showing them a formula for balance and explaining where they need to generate force by pushing against the ground, but they will learn best by trying, failing, and trying again.

You are also going to school for Romanian classes. What made you decide to learn Romanian and how is that going so far?

From a practical perspective, it makes sense to learn Romanian to make life easier. However, for me it’s more than this. I am not an international teacher that just happened to come to Romania because there was a job here. I specifically chose to come here.  It’s my first international position. I had many Romanian friends at university and visited the country often, eight times in five years, before working here. In order to understand a culture, it’s important to get an understanding of the language. Culture and arts are what make life worth living. I want to be able to have a conversation with an old person about what life use to be like, to read some poetry, or express my views on current political trends or a piece of art. I know it’s said never make politics or religion a topic of conversation, but sometimes it’s nice to break the mould.

I’ve not developed as fast as I wanted to over the last year. I therefore made a decision to improve this over the summer holidays. I’ve attended a two-week intensive course for beginners. Studying in a classroom for three hours each day was quite enlightening since it’s been a few years since I was on the receiving end of education. I also have a better understanding of what people mean when they talk about the didactic teaching methods used in the Romanian state system. You really have to be at the top of the class or risk falling behind very quickly!

The course was aimed at beginners and had a strong focus on grammar, which is actually what I needed. I passed the A1 course with high in each section (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and I am now looking to take the A2 course.