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.

How to build excellence in education

Dr. Daniela Vasile, Director of Learning at Avenor College, is a professional in education with over 20 years of international experience, both as a math teacher and in management positions. We invite you to learn more about her passion for excellence in education and use of technology, how the cultural differences she encountered changed her perspective, both professionally and personally, her decision to return home and her love for the sea.

Daniela talked to Ioana, a 12th grade student at Avenor International High School, the initiator of the series of interviews dedicated to the passions and talents of the members of the Avenor community.

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

Daniela Vasile: I love what I do. I really enjoy teaching; I take pride in the relationship that I develop over the years with students. I like meeting them after they’ve graduated and notice that they have become happy and fulfilled people, contributing to their community and beyond, to society. That’s what matters most in life, belonging that leads to fulfillment that, in turn, leads to happiness.

On a personal note, I have a family that I am very proud of. My husband and I have been happily married for 33 years. We have two children. My daughter studied psychology at The University of Oxford.She also got her Master’s degree, and now she works in the UK. My son is studying Economics and Mathematics at The New York University in Abu Dhabi. He leads the university debating and Model United Nations teams. The most important thing is not where they attended college, but that they are driven by healthy values and principles.

Ioana: Where does the passion for the subjects you teach come from (Statistics and Maths)? ?

Daniela Vasile: I think it highly depends on the teacher, perhaps even more so in Mathematics than in other subjects, because Mathematics is a subject where you need a strong foundation to build upon. The passion seems to have originated from my primary teacher, who taught us how to think logically and who was a great educator. During summer holidays, I remember spending time at her house. She had these small chairs which she arranged in her backyard as we studied mathematics and observed the plants grow in her garden. In the summer, she was always surrounded by children.

After that, I was lucky to have very good teachers, both in middle school and high school, and thus this passion grew, because they revealed to me the beauty of mathematics. Just as important is the fact that my mother is a teacher, an exceptional teacher. She was my Romanian language teacher for 4 years, in middle school. She is a role model, both as a teacher and as a human being.

Ioana: I know you’ve also taught in foreign countries. What cultural challenges did you encounter in each of these?

Daniela Vasile: The main difference is in mentality. I have taught in European countries, and the mentality didn’t differ. However, when I went to Asia, it truly was a cultural shock! I was walking down the street and I couldn’t comprehend what drove their actions! Perhaps the biggest shock was to understand that, there, a rule is followed by everyone. That’s certainly a difference! The Asian societies are less individualistic than ours. Back in 2009, when I moved to Hong Kong, I saw occasionally people on the street or few students in the school wearing masks (yes, the same as we wear now). It took me a while to understand that they don’t wear masks to protect themselves from others, but they wear them when they get a cold, to protect others from them.

However, when I am thinking at the school level, students are the same here and there, all are exceptional people. We all live in a more than ever connected world, where borders between cultures fade. While maintaining our roots, we become at the same time more international. And this is what schools like Avenor and all schools where I worked before are similar.

I don’t necessarily think of my travels in terms of challenges I’ve encountered, but rather in terms of opportunities of learning new things and that’s very interesting.

Ioana: Please tell us about a memorable experience whilst teaching abroad, and one from Romania.

Daniela Vasile: I recall this impactful event from the Anglo American School of Moscowwhich actually happened in my very first month there. When I gave back the marked tests to 11th grade students,

As I handed them their work, I did exactly what my teachers in Romania did: I read the results out loud. I then proceeded to give to this one girl her test back. She scored 78%. When the lesson ended, the Korean girl approached me, extremely upset, and said, “Do you realize that you have ruined my social status?” I asked her what she meant by that. She explained to me how, in Korea, anything below 90% is considered a total failure. I then thought how normal calling results out loud was in the Romanian system! I reflected on that instance and I never do this anymore. Coming back home, at Avenor, when I gave back my first set of tests, I noticed that students share between them the scores. I like that here, at Avenor, there is no such fear of being judged by others. Instead, students are open to learn from each other and to learn together. It is a culture of respect and collaboration.

Ioana: Why did you choose Avenor College and how does your experience here compare to that in foreign countries?

Daniela Vasile: When I first decided to return home, because I had taught abroad for 20 years and I grew home-sick, I started scrolling through different schools’ websites. I liked the Avenor spirit, that I could feel just by looking through the website. I saw a school with well-defined values, giving students a broad experience – school is not about subjects only! I then looked in the media and on Facebook, and I reached the conclusion that Avenor was different from any other school in Romania – a school that matches perfectly my view on outstanding education. I wished to be part of this Avenor Adventure, of the Avenor Spirit and to contribute to the Avenor community. It was definitely a thoroughly researched decision, I didn’t just settle on the first school I came across. Finally, after seeing the spirit from the media, I had the pleasant surprise to come here and see that the spirit is alive. I really like the Avenor College community!

Ioana: How did you adapt here, after 20 years of teaching abroad?

Daniela Vasile: Naturally, there are things in the previous place that you miss when moving. After all, I think it’s best to live in the present, not the past; to think about what is good here, because there are so many things I enjoy that I could not have elsewhere.

However, I do miss the sea very much. In Hong Kong, every day when I went to school, I drove down the hill and watched the sea. I’m a person who doesn’t like winter, and it’s always summer there.

I still miss the fact that everything runs smoothly there. Of course, I also miss the friends I made there and my former students, but, on the other hand, I am now at home. I reconnected with my wider family, with my friends and I met new people at the same time. I have new, wonderful students.

Ioana: Throughout the year, I’ve noticed your affinity with technology. We’ve grown to rely increasingly more on technology, it has become a crucial part of our lives, whether we want it to be or not. How did you manage to familiarise yourself with this field?

Daniela Vasile: I’ve always liked technology, because I studied both mathematics and computer science at university. I’ve always believed that technology makes our lives easier, that’s why I began using it in the first place. After that, I discovered a lot of apps that help me teach math in a way that makes the concepts accessible, to help students visualize these procedures. And from there, step by step, I started to diversify my classes, to use technology more and more, hoping that it will have a positive impact on the students’ learning process. Then, when the pandemic began, I started using technology to connect with students.

Ioana: Ioana: At the end of January, you were invited to speak at a SuperTeach conference and one of the topics discussed during this conference began with the question: “What are similar experiences and what are the solutions adopted in various countries successfully applied in Romania?”. Can you please elaborate on this?

Daniela Vasile: It’s very important how the teacher sees himself in class. Is he someone who takes a lesson from the textbook and presents it to the students exactly in the way it is there? Or is he someone who can think and adapt the content of the textbook, improve it? For, in the end, the textbook is just how the author approaches the curriculum, his interpretation of the program. As a teacher, I would like to have my own interpretation, which might revolve around this textbook, but include new elements. After that, you can develop this idea even more: the teacher can even create an entire program without the guidance of the textbook. Thus, learning becomes more interesting, deeper and richer.

Ioana: Given the fact that you have taught at many international schools, what do you think of the Romanian curriculum? What do you like or dislike and what do you think can be improved?

Daniela Vasile: In Romania, it seems to me that exam results matter the most. The process that leads to that result is not given enough significance. However, I consider this very important because the way you get to the result determines what kind of learner we grow. I wouldn’t want my students to learn only for the exam, and then forget everything. This does not mean that I expect a student, after 10-15 years, to remember how to solve a quadratic equation. What I want them to be left with are the habits of mind that will allow them to become life-long learners.

Everyone complains that the Romanian national curriculum is old, and indeed it is old. But this does not mean that, if the curriculum changes completely, the students will be more involved and active. It would be certainly good to improve it, but at the moment we can only work with what we have. The way we approach this curriculum can make a difference in the student’s learning process and, consequently, in their engagement.

Ioana: How do you see online teaching from your point of view?

Daniela Vasile: In March, the pandemic caught us off guard and we had to start online teaching. Not everyone was prepared for this drastic change. However, the teachers at Avenor switched to online teaching very quickly, practically in just 2 days.

Of course, for any teacher, online teaching is more difficult than brick-and-mortar teaching. Mainly due to the fact that teaching in person allows you to easily identify, from the reactions of students, who needs help and guidance, something that is harder to follow online. Thus, we put in place several tools to track the progress of students, applications such as Google Classroom, WhatsApporGoogle Docs.

From a cognitive point of view, online lessons run as well as the in-person ones, but require better organisation and planning.

Hybrid learning is the most difficult for teachers, because you have to follow both the students in class and those online. At Avenor we offer it now and will continue to offer it for students who, for various reasons, can’t attend in-person classes. If you think for a moment, we have always been in a yellow scenario, as we frequently had one-two students at home. This pandemic helped us find solutions that we will use in such cases from now on.

Ioana: What other hobbies do you have besides teaching?

Daniela Vasile: For 2 years, I have been supporting another international school with their Mathematics department, as an educational consultant. I am also an international school evaluator, leading teams of 6-8 educators from all over the world to visit and help schools improve. I have just completed such a visit during the February mid-term break, in Kenya.

I like reading, hiking, and being in nature – well, mainly by the sea!

Ioana: What are your future plans for Avenor?

Daniela Vasile: We are going through a very interesting and meaningful period of transformations in education and I am happy to be part of a progressive team here, at Avenor.

In May, we will participate, as a school, at an international conference, one of the biggest in the educational world: the COBIS conference, where we will present Avenor’s story as a case study. I am very proud that I am able to represent the Avenor school in conferences and workshops. We have a lot to share and to offer.

Also, at the moment, we are at the end of a process where the entire community defined the strategic plan for the next 10 years. The future is bright and interesting – it is now time to get to work, in order to make it happen!

The implications of mathematics in psychology

Before writing the article for Math-Ly, psychology and mathematics had never appeared that intertwined to Alexandra, but after doing some research she realized how great are the implications of mathematics in psychology and that it’s even a required course for students wishing to pursue a career in this domain.

Alexandra and her Math-Ly editorial team, coordinated by their maths teacher, Mihaela Ancuța, interviewed some of the Avenor alumni and discovered how mathematics helps them in their chosen field of study. Read below an interview with Ana and Vanessa, Class of 2020, who are currently studying Psychology at the University.

Alexandra: Tell us a bit about yourself. What drew you to Psychology?

Ana: I’m Ana, I’m 19 years old and I am in my first year of studying Psychology at University in London. I fell in love with Psychology during my first year of A Levels when I started studying it. At the time I was a bit confused as my other passion was Art as well, so I didn’t know what to choose between the two. I was entirely sure of studying Psychology further when I moved to London for my second year of A Levels. I had the best Psychology teacher I have ever met and my true passion for Psychology fully came out.

Alexandra: Was mathematics a subject you enjoyed whilst studying at Avenor? If yes, what particular mathematics topic did you enjoy most?

Ana: I thoroughly enjoyed studying Maths at Avenor, because I had the privilege of having Mihaela Ancuta as my teacher all throughout high school. Mihaela made me absolutely love Maths and she has been the best support system for studying and working so hard to achieve the best results. Pure Maths was my favourite part of Maths, followed by Statistics. My favourite topics from Pure Maths were quadratics, integration, differentiations and I enjoyed probabilities and the Normal distribution from Statistics.

Alexandra: What are the implications of mathematics in Psychology?

Ana: Statistics is the only mathematical part of Psychology, but it is very important. The understanding of Statistics is crucial in Psychology, which is backed up by the use of statistical software which help you with the calculations. You need to understand how to analyse and interpret data, as well as descriptive and inferential statistics (this looks at describing data and making inferences, predictions about data). This is all used to understand the results that you get from the psychological experiments you conduct when you do your own research after University or for your last year of University. It is extremely important to master your statistics in Psychology so you can understand what your research has found and what conclusions you can draw from your participants’ behaviour.

Vanessa: Psychology may be described as the abstract study of the mind, but people shouldn’t forget about the scientific part of it. Whether someone is interested to know if men have bigger feet than women, or if depression occurs more often in people who are frequent social media users than in those who don’t even have social media accounts, psychology needs the help of mathematics to conduct a reliable scientific study.

Alexandra: Are the mathematics concepts taught during high school useful in your current Psychology course? If yes, which particular ones and how exactly?

Ana: Yes, they are, specifically Statistics, as that is a very present and important part of Psychology. Normal distributions and the distribution of data is probably the most important part of high school Mathematics as it is something you will permanently use in Psychology, not matter at what level. On the other hand, the logical thinking and understanding I gained from Pure Maths is also very important in understanding data from Psychology.

Vanessa: Mathematics has been an important asset to psychologists, since in order to present their results to the rest of the world so that everyone can understand what they mean by all of those numbers, psychologists need to calculate them first. Statistical tests such as the “mean”, “standard deviation” and “t-test” are the most popular among all studies. But even if all of these tests get done, the average person won’t understand what they mean. Therefore, another mathematical part comes in handy when presenting results: graphs!

A clear and concise study has an abundance of bar graphs, pie charts, tables, and many more mathematical numeric representations.

The mind is such a complicated thing to study, since everyone sees the world in a different perspective, there is a need for exact science to make sense of what we find out.

Read the latest issue of Math-Ly here.

Interested in Avenor High School?


Learning to shape the future

Ioana joined Avenor College International High School in the 9th grade and the adapting from the Romanian system to the Cambridge system was intimidating at first. The new subjects and the differences between the two systems worried her, but with ambition and guidance from the Avenor teachers she managed to overcome her fears and the limits she felt she had.

“I am grateful to my teachers for their support and patience and I am glad that ever since I became an Avenor student, I’ve had many opportunities to discover new areas that I can connect my passions to,” says Ioana.

Now, in the 10th grade, Ioana has discovered her passion for Computer Science and guided by Mr. Ali Yuksel, her teacher, participated in Girls in AI – Romanian Hackathon, an international competition in which students from all over the world aim to find solutions to global problems using the technology of the future – Artificial Intelligence.

We invite you to find out more about Ioana’s experience in this video.

Interested in Avenor High School?


1st Place at Equestrianism

Iarina, a 9th grade student, loves horses and competed for the first time in a competition organized by the Romanian Equestrian Federation. She won 1st place in both tests and enjoyed the success with tears in her eyes, after months of training that taught her how important it is to be empathetic with the animal, to work in a team and to synchronize movements, but also to exceed her limits, both physical and emotional.

We invite you to read her story and find out more about her passion for riding and what are the most important lessons learned by practicing this sport.

 

The first time I rode a big horse was when I was 8 years old. I had ridden ponies a few times before, but at this age I started taking my first riding lessons. I fell in love with horses from the very first moment. My grandfather also contributed to this love, since he was a veterinarian and rode to work.

Although I didn’t go regularly and it was more of an activity for when the weather was nice, I really enjoyed the lessons and the training. At the age of 10, I fell off my horse for the first time and sprained my knee, and because of that I couldn’t ride for another year. However, I was not afraid and I was eager to get back in the saddle. Gradually, I began to learn how to fall, which helped me a lot in the next falls I had.

I only started professional training in September 2020, once I moved to another equestrian club. I soon realized that it’s not the same thing as just training for pleasure once a week, as I used to do. In riding, you must first and foremost understand the mentality of the horse. Below you is a 550 kilogram animal, which thinks completely differently from humans. You have to be in control without being imposing, you have to be relaxed, but attentive to everything that moves and you have to continue even if you are afraid.

Equestrianism taught me discipline. Even if I get tired and feel like I can’t do it anymore, I’m not allowed to stop exercising, I have to complete it, because I’m not the only one in this. I team up with an extremely smart animal and not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the fact that he lets me be with him. I have to think about how each part of the horse’s body and my body is coordinated, while the movements have to flow in harmony one after the other, like in a dance. I have to pay attention to the impulse and the power he performs, every inch in which my hands, feet or back are positioned, forward or backward.

I love this sport because it teaches me patience, communication, self-confidence and it is extremely satisfying. After hours of training, falls, mistakes, bad days, early morning or late evening lessons, the best prize I can win is to learn the move. The thing that I think about and that helps me move forward in every workout is that I don’t have to be perfect from the first time, but I have to be better than yesterday, because that’s how I progress. Mentally, a rider has to work enormously with himself, maybe even more than physically, because the biggest obstacles are right in our minds. Equestrianism is an art, full of compassion, courage, empathy and a lot, a lot of work.

I made my debut at my first competition of the Romanian Equestrian Federation at the end of February 2021. The competition took place over two days, in which I participated in two tests: training progression and cavaletti. Training progression is a test that combines all the elements of riding that can only be done on horseback, without any other object. The arena has letters at predetermined distances, and the rider must guide his horse in all walks (step, trot, gallop) between them, to make circles, diagonals, hand changes, serpentines, stops and starts fixed in those letters. It is the ultimate test in horse-riding harmony.

The cavaletti test consists in passing the horse either at a trot or at a gallop, over some bars on the ground, in a predetermined route. In both days I participated, I won 1st place in both tests. I felt like crying of happiness, because even though I knew I had given my best, I didn’t expect it. I was very proud of myself and the horse I rode.

I look forward to the next competition and I train hard three times a week to get equally good results in even harder tests.

How passion turned into good business

Tudor G. is a 12th grade student at Avenor International High School and already has an impressive business record: several IT projects built from scratch. We invite you to discover more about Tudor’s journey in a new interview from the series created by Ioana – who is also a student in the 12th grade of Avenor High School – dedicated to the passions and talents of the members of the Avenor community.

Ioana: Spune-ne câteva cuvinte despre tine, cum te-ai prezenta?

Tudor: Pot spune că sunt o persoană liniștită, văd lucrurile obiectiv și îmi place să fac business.

Ioana: Where does your passion for Computer Science come from?

Tudor: It all started in 6th grade. I started attending Computer Science classes, I studied and I also participated in Computer Science related contests. Next, I wanted to learn and understand additional information about what was being studied in class and that’s how my love for it grew. After a year or two in which I kept on learning, I started a business with a friend, where I programmed non-stop, I made different websites and projects. Now I have other companies with other friends where I program less, but I still coordinate technically everything.

When I was younger, I wanted to become a scientist or a veterinarian, but there was nothing set in my mind. Anyway, with Computer Science, even though I was learning a lot, I didn’t think I would make a career out of it. It started as something fun to occupy my time with when I was 15. It wasn’t until about a year ago that things started to get more serious and I started to think more about my future and my career.

Ioana: I know you coordinate three big projects outside of school. Tell me about how it all started, how did you come up with the ideas and how you now manage to support yourself financially from your work?

Tudor: To be honest, until a year and a half or two ago, I didn’t consider money at all, just how cool it was that I had my own projects, where I designed a site or two. Anyway, from these websites, since we had just recently started them, we didn’t earn a lot of money. It was very interesting for me to learn how to do things by myself, how to start a business from scratch, just to try to see what comes out of it. That’s how I learned all the things I know now and because of this I am very comfortable with big projects and large sums of money. I got used to it from the beginning, to be aware of everything I do.

Ioana: How do you manage to divide your time between school and work? And especially, how do you manage to do it all at such a high level?

Tudor: That’s the hard part. I simply have a very strict schedule, meaning I have an app on my phone where I schedule my day up to the minute. I always follow this schedule, especially at school, because here the schedule is already very strict, with classes that start and end on time. If, for instance, I have a meeting and the person I was supposed to meet is very late, I’ll tell them that I’m sorry but I’m no longer available. Otherwise, I really can’t handle school, projects and homework simultaneously. Anyway, homework already takes up a lot of my time.

Ioana: How did the people around you support you and your businesses?

Tudor: My friends generally supported me, as well as my parents, but until the point where my projects began interfering with school work. They told me I had to prioritise school above all. Now, that they have seen the magnitude of my projects, they are 100% supportive of them, but still believe that I must remain focused on school. Overall, I can’t say I wasn’t supported because everyone around me just said “Go for it!”

Ioana: How was the transition from the Romanian system to the Cambridge system? Was the Cambridge system more convenient for you?

Tudor: I personally think the Cambridge system is better for me because I have much more independence. This was very helpful because I was very independent before anyway, and now I can organise my schedule the way I want. This would have been impossible to accomplish at a school following the Romanian curriculum.

Ioana: What other passions do you have? Do you have sufficient time for other hobbies as well? Do you have sufficient time for other hobbies as well?

Tudor: I like to do research on the scientific side of things and a little bit of medicine; I enjoy doing my projects separately from the business ones, when I have time. I still play games on the computer, but very little, maximum 3-4 hours a week. Instead, I go out every night with my friends, for an hour or two, because I can’t work every day from morning till night.

Ioana: You have already begun your career, working on your passion daily, which is very rare in people our age. What about your personal goals?

Tudor: Personally, I feel that all the projects I handle help me to ground myself and most importantly to keep being modest – this has always been my strong point, I always want to stay modest. I want to be a reasonable person and I feel like I’m almost there. I still have to work on certain aspects such as the fact that in some situations I tend to get angry a bit too quickly.

Ioana: There is this question I often ask: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. In your case, I would like to ask: “In 5 years, do you see yourself doing the same thing as now, or do you wish to explore other opportunities?”

Tudor: Honestly, I don’t want it to be a cliché, but if you had asked me a year ago where I see myself now, I couldn’t have imagined that I would reach this point in my life now. In 5 years, all the least! If things continue to run as they did this year, a year that wasn’t very good overall, but business-wise it went very well for me, I don’t even want to know what might happen! 😊

Interested in Avenor High School?


Avenor – 1st place in Romania at Mangahigh international competition

In February, Avenor College participated in the Mangahigh competition along with 125 schools around the world. This year, our school ranked 1st in the top of the participating schools in Romania and in Eastern Europe, and 8th in the world. We invite you to learn more about the experience of participating in this competition from our teachers and students.

Mihaela Ancuța, Professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Curriculum Leader:

Mangahigh is about challenges, competition, perseverance, ambition and suspense. It is one of the first gamification platforms for mathematics and coding and contains innovative games, adapted to the needs of students. Not only do students compete with their classmates and other students from other schools around the world, but they work at the individual level of knowledge and skills and learn new concepts while solving math problems through play. Moreover, Mangahigh improves students’ teamwork skills, and as they complete math activities, they earn points for their schools in the competition leaderboard.

Ioana, 10th grade: It was my first math competition in high school, but in the past I participated in the Olympics, Comper and others. The online experience I had participating in the Mangahigh contest made me fall in love with this kind of contest, which requires mathematical knowledge, logic and attention. Both the level of difficulty and the type of problems vary – most are grid-type, many illustrating everyday situations, or games that can help you increase your score. Correctness and work matter a lot. The ranking of the top 10 in school and of the class was visible, and it motivated me to work hard to be among the first. I appreciated the diversity of the exercises and the possibility to work in the intervals in which I can concentrate best. In addition to the fact that there was a change in the routine of working past papers (exam preparation, n.r.), I feel that I have enriched my ability to combine logic and mathematical knowledge in solving practical problems. At school I worked for a week during math classes (about 5 hours), and in my free time I spent a little more time, every night during the event about 2-3 hours, sometimes even more.

Ana, 2nd grade: I really like math and I was very happy when I heard that we will be able to participate this year as well. It was my first math competition.

During the week, at school, I worked 3 hours, and on weekends around 6 hours. Once I started solving problems, I couldn’t stop. I mostly enjoyed the ones without time limit, because I could better focus on the logic of the problem.

Mara, 5th grade: Mangahigh has all kinds of math problems, some are based on logic games, others are problems you have to solve on paper. I spent 2 hours at school and almost 4 at home.

What I liked most about this competition was that I was able to learn by playing and I was able to better understand certain concepts that I learned in math classes.

Avenor’s first Maths magazine

When the passion for creative writing and math meet, wonderful things happen. MATH-LY-NEWS, the first Avenor mathematics magazine, was written at the initiative of  Mihaela Ancuța, Mathematics teacher and Mathematics Curriculum Leader. We invite you to find out more about how the first issue was written and about the team of students who coordinate it.

Mihaela Ancuța: According to the theory of self-determination, which I have been focusing on for some time and which I am still studying, because it is fascinating and I believe in it a lot, every human being (particularly our students) is born with three basic psychological needs: the need for connection, the need for competence and the need for autonomy. Students need to be seen, valued, respected, to feel that they are unique, they need to feel connected, belonging to a group. They still need to feel able, to feel that they can achieve something, that they are capable and, very importantly, they need to make choices, to make decisions. When all these needs are met, any student will be well, his intrinsic motivation will increase and implicitly his results in everything he does. The progress is amazing.

The whole process involved in making the magazine, the brainstorming meetings we have, the way we communicate with each other, the challenges they have, the choices they make, provide students with the necessary framework for these needs to be met.

I remember the first discussion with Alexandra, which I asked if she wanted to join the project:

Hi Alexandra, I saw the article about your scholarship project and I would like to congratulate you for the idea of ​​organising a creative writing club! – I told her I appreciated her for her creative writing talent and other things I had heard about her, then I told her directly:

I’m coming to you with a “job offer”. Would you like to be the editor of the first Avenor math magazine?

Her reaction was wonderful:

Yeees! Of course! I love to write and I love maths as much!

I am convinced that her reaction came from the fact that she felt seen, appreciated, felt valued. But I’m going to stop now and will let her tell you more about the magazine :).

Alexandra P. (clasa a 8-a Omega): I present to you the first edition of the Avenor mathematics magazine,  MATH-LY-NEWS.

This magazine is meant to inform fellow mathematics enthusiasts, just like us, about current events in the fascinating world of mathematics.

It is addressed to those who seem to be unable to stop raising their hands during math lessons, to those who are eager to expand their knowledge of mathematics, to those who have an endless curiosity and, most importantly, to those who love to be challenged.

The magazine will feature various articles, all related to Mathematics. These may range from fascinating interviews interesante cu profesorii de matematică de la Avenor, la articole captivante și curiozități matematice distractive.

It’s written by students for students. By math lovers to fellow math lovers. This newsletter is entirely written by Avenorians, addressed to other Avenorians with a similar continually growing passion for mathematics. Currently we have a team of 4 editors from the 8th and 9th grades: Sara R., Mara B., Sandra P. and Sara C. The magazine would not have looked the way it does without the help of Lisa Ț., our Graphic designer. For the next editions, we aim to involve as many colleagues as possible, both from the middle school classes and from the high school.

MATH-LY-NEWS will appear monthly and will be available in Google Classroom, but also on the Avenor website. If you share our passion for mathematics, if you like challenges and if this article aroused your interest, we invite you to read our magazine here.

 

Avenor Scholarship Projects: Tutoring Programme

Alexandra (10th grade) wanted to help her younger schoolmates adapt more easily to the requirements of Avenor International High School. Thus, she created a tutoring programme in which she and other student-teachers offer extra hours to students who wish to work overtime. We invite you to find out more about Alexandra’s scholarship project from the following interview.

 

Avenor College: Tell us about your project: what was the initial idea and how did you think of putting it into practice?

Alexandra: I’ve always wanted to volunteer, coordinate such a project and help people. Unfortunately, due to the epidemic, I could not fulfill my wish. So, with the help of Mrs. Luminița Susanu, coordinator of the scholarship programme, I adapted the volunteering project and turned it into a tutoring programme.

At the beginning of the IGCSE course in 9th grade, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I wasn’t sure how I should organise myself and what expectations I should have for this course. I feel that these things could have been overcome with the guidance of a person closer to my age, who has had a similar experience. That’s why I decided to give this opportunity to those who are at the beginning of the journey.

Avenor College: Where are you with your project now?

Alexandra.: The project is constantly evolving. At the moment we are a total of five student-teachers offering extra hours for two 9th graders. In total we have seven active hours per week. Each class, student-teachers identify gaps in classmates’ knowledge in different subjects and work on additional exercises based on the lesson of the day.

Avenor College: What are the next steps?

Alexandra: In the coming weeks, we will resume recruiting students so that we can offer our help to as many younger students as possible. Next year we want to gather more student-teachers in order to extend the programme to middle school classes, respectively to 8th grade.

Avenor College: What did you find most difficult about this project?

Alexandra: The most difficult thing was to succeed in attracting students to the project. Some students may have considered that they will not find any use for extra study time, but those who are part of the programme at this time have only words of praise for the classes and students who tutor them.

Avenor College: What surprised you about working on this project?

Alexandra: Alexandra: It surprised me how quickly the volunteers I recruited mobilised. Everyone complied with their tasks, there were no delays and it all went smoothly. 🙂

Avenor College: What did you find out about yourself, as a team, working on this project?

Alexandra: Myself, together with the team of volunteers, discovered that things can go “smooth” as long as everyone respects their schedule and responsibilities. In addition, we got closer as a team and became friends at the same time.

Avenor College: What are the main benefits of your project to the Avenor community?

Alexandra: In addition to helping younger colleagues, I believe that this programme brings together students from different years, having the opportunity to get to know each other better and discover new perspectives.

 

Avenor Scholarship Projects: Reforestation event

Although they are separated by an age difference of two years, Maria (8th grade) and Ilinca (10th grade) are united by their common passion for ecology and the environment. We invite you to find out from the following interview the story of the tree planting action that they have planned in the smallest detail and how they reorganised after the event was canceled at the last moment.

 

Avenor College: What was the idea behind your project?

Ilinca: Ilinca: Through my scholarship project I wanted to help the Avenor community become ”greener”.

Maria: We wanted to raise awareness towards an important global issue that is deforestation. This subject has interested me ever since primary school, which is why I made the most out of the opportunity that my scholarship projects presented. They have helped me include my hobbies and passions and share them with the whole community.

A. C.: What have you done so far for this project and where are you now?

Ilinca: In the first semester, we managed to organise down to the last detail a tree planting event – Avenor Reforestation.

Maria: The project has been discussed and developed, eventually presenting it to every class from Preparatory to 12th, and the number of people wanting to participate exceeded our expectations – 120 participants. The project was fully ready to happen, but sadly it was canceled by the partner we were working with, Romsilva. Currently, we have started discussions with our project coordinator and we are working towards organising Avenor Reforestation this spring.

A. C .: What are the next steps?

Ilinca: The next steps are discussions with various NGOs with which we can partner and organise the next edition of Avenor Reforestation. We look forward to announcing the community when we have more details set.

Maria: We are also going to register for the Eco Film Awards organised by COBIS, where we will present in a short video how our community integrates sustainability through the Avenor Reforestation project.

A. C .: What did you find most difficult about this project?

Ilinca: I think the most difficult part of this project was when we had to create the registration questionnaire. Although it seems a small thing, I personally did not have much experience with this type of document. What was the order of the questions? Do we have to ask for the participants’ email addresses? How do I attach a map to the questionnaire? All these were small things, but they taught me skills that I use often and that help me in other projects.

Maria: The most demanding part of this project was to be able to include every member of the community, regardless of age. This required a lot of work, as we had to adapt the information presented from 6-year-olds to adults. However, the children reacted with great enthusiasm, which encouraged us on this journey.

A. C .: What surprised you?

Ilinca: This autumn, when we organised the reforestation project, we all wanted to gather as many people as possible, and have as much impact as possible, but I don’t think anyone expected to have more than 120 people enrolled. I remember that we wanted to gather a little more than 50 people, the number of participants in the previous edition of the event.

Maria: An unexpected thing was the interest of the primary school children and their ability to understand, from an early age, the importance of trees. This helped us to continue and ensured success.

A. C .: What did you discover about yourself as a team working on this project?

Ilinca: Due to the fact that we were a team, we had the opportunity to share our tasks. This helped us work faster, and to check each other’s small mistakes. We had more ideas, but most importantly, we had a bigger impact – we presented the project to all classes in the school (from preparatory to 12th).

Maria: Un avantaj al diferenței de vârstă dintre mine și Ilinca a fost impactul extins pe care l-am avut asupra colegilor noștri. She, being in high school, knew how to communicate better with her peers, and I managed with my peers, in lower secondary school.

A. C .: What are the main benefits of your project to the Avenor community?

Ilinca: I think Avenor Reforestation has given everyone in the community a chance to come and help, it has given us a chance to socialize and learn new skills – how to plant trees, for example. Another benefit of the project was that it raised awareness of the whole community, even if not everyone was able to participate in the event. Maria and I went to all grades and gave a presentation, followed by a question and answer session, in which we talked about the deforestation rates in Romania and in the world, as well as about the benefits of forests.

Maria: I believe that Avenor Reforestation caught the attention of all the students and raised the awareness of the community towards an important cause. Also, researching about mass deforestation took me out of the “bubble” in which I lived, waking me up to reality.

 

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