It is not easy. Ask Ivan Angelov, the coach of the math competition teams. He started with 50 children in 5th grade, six of them lasted to 12th grade, four of which joined the National Team. Our results in mathematics are outstanding: for three years in a row, we rank in the top 30 from 800 contestants and 100 teams in Harvard’s MIT Math Tournament.
But there are 1,250 students in our school. What do the rest do? Not everyone is an outstanding mathematician and each student has different interests and talents. That is why our focus on the Schools of the Future Program of the America for Bulgaria Foundation was not math. It was a Natural Sciences Center. And something very interesting happened. A new variety of excellent students emerged. The Center filled in a blank that 95% of our students felt was missing. A blank, related to integrating knowledge in various subjects.
I will not talk about the new modern classrooms we furnished with everything needed for practical training in natural sciences: microscopes, electronics, chemical lab equipment. I will give you an example instead. The teachers in chemistry and biology built a compost in the school yard. It produces bio-fertilizer out of organic waste – that is a simple, inexpensive, practical exercise. The process of composting explains the circle of nitrogen and carbon in nature, a topic that is included in the curriculum of both biology and chemistry. Rather than each teacher explaining the same thing in their lesson, they carry the lesson out together. That is what I dream of. For new school subjects to appear, combining knowledge and information. Because the world does not separate chemistry from biology from math. The world is a whole. And when you raise a global theme, things change.
I am proud that regardless of the complicated economic and political times, schools like ours manage to not only keep the tradition but be a few steps ahead into the future.
Pavlin Petkov, Principal, D-r Peter Beron Math School, Varna