DOMINIQUE VELOCITER, HEAD OF AMERICAN ENGLISH ACADEMY: HOW TO BECOME A LEADER IN EDUCATION IN BULGARIA

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Dominique Velociter was born and raised in France, where she began her career as a teacher. In her late twenties she moved to the United States to start a family with her American husband. While raising her three daughters she founded and fully developed a successful K-8 bilingual school in Providence, Rhode Island. Later on, she shared her experience and expertise to develop and turn around schools in New York City, California and Sofia. Dominique Velociter is a transformational leader who strongly believes that learning is a boundless pursuit of knowledge and a rewarding and inspiring adventure. She is the head of the AEA.

How did AEA become an educational leader in Bulgaria? What makes AEA unique and what is it that the school provides to students and parents, which cannot be found elsewhere?

AEA has been an educational leader in Bulgaria since the early 1990s when the original founders, Ruth and Franck Munsey, founded the school as an international English-speaking program in Bulgaria. The school has always attracted local and international residents who were seeking an international education in English language. Since 2015, the school is privately owned by Markan Holding AD who has selected International School Services (ISS) as the school management consulting firm.

Dominique Velociter Head of AEAThe school’s curriculum follows the U.S. Common Core Educational Standardsand the learning program is in English language, student-centered, and includes a wide range of after-school activities and sports. In addition to its American international program,AEA offers an optional Dual Language Program, fully recognized bythe Bulgarian Ministry of Educationanddesigned for the specific educational requirements of Bulgarian students from the age of 5 to Grade 12.

Contemporary education focuses on the individual talents, needs, and interests of the student. How does AEA respond to this trend?

Over the past few years AEA has invested in creating an environment that is altogether attractive and conducive to learning. The school building is attractive, with large hallways and corridors. The convenient location combines the peaceful surrounding of the country side allowing the beautiful nature to enter in every classroom through large bay windows, with the proximity to the city and easy access to museums and educational resources.

We believe in the advantage of a whole child student-centered education and organize the curriculum around this concept. Our students are not only learning knowledge, they are also developing the skills they will need to respond to an ever changing and global world. Our students are skilled communicators, sharing ideas and opinions, and learning English, Bulgarian and Spanish. We aim to develop students who are curious and inquisitive, who work together to find alternative solutions to common issues.

We have placed our emphasis in professional development to ensure that our teachers are familiar with innovative and progressive practices. We are developing the integration of technology and computer science and preparing our students to be wise and ethical users. We exercise the socio-emotional competences of our students to empower them to engage as respectful and inclusive leaders in their community.

American English AcademyWhat is the typical profile of the children currently studying at AEA?

Our students come from 35 nations and show different cultural backgrounds. Some have parents working at the local embassies and consulates; others have parents owning their own business, or working at local and international companies; some have parents working at the school. We account for approximately 60% of Bulgarian families and 40% of international families. In general, our students are from the upper class, speaking two or more languages, and accustomed to travel the world. Our graduates are expected to be knowledgeable, curious and thoughtful individuals, effective communicators, and open-minded, respectful and compassionate beings.

American English AcademyAEA teaches children from more than 30 nations. What benefits does such a cosmopolitan atmosphere give to students?

Research shows that students experienced with a multicultural environment are more empathic and inclusive toward other people and cultures. They learn naturally that there is always more than one way to look at the world and that each of way is valuable. They know that there is not one truth, but many truths, each of them being linked to a specific cultural practice. This trait of character allows our students to grow empathy and adaptability skills and reduces the prejudices and stereotypes associated with a single culture.

American English Academy

For a period of few years, the school has almost completed its full capacity. Do you plan to continue to grow?

Over the past years, the school tripled in size. We anticipate to continue to grow, particularly in the upper school grades where we still have potential spaces. To respond to this, over the past two years, we have developed our programs in the upper school, synchronizing the instruction process in high school, and offering attractive elective course, AP classes, and individualized online courses options.

American English Academy

How do you recruit and select your teachers? Tell us more about the AEA teaching staff? 

The AEA faculty is an invaluable asset for the school. Our teachers are a mix of senior teachers who have been at AEA from a long time and carry the tradition of the school's mission, combined with newer faculty members who are seeking the privilege to work in a progressive and innovative environment. Our teachers are caring and supportive to students, they are engaged, committed, and hard working. Our teachers worked for a month last summer to prepare their class syllabus and collaborate on projects with their peers. We are planning to become a reference Google school and have 10 teachers engaged in a pilot program to become certified Google educators. Another 15 teachers are signed up with Utah Valley University in a two- year pilot program focusing on the enhancement of their teaching skills. We feel that schools who invest in their teachers are the schools of the future and are likely to stay ahead and succeed in our ever changing and unpredictable 21st century context.

 

Sofia, Lozen area, 1 Orlova Krusha St

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www.aeasofia.com

American English Academy

 

American English Academy

 

American English Academy

 

American English Academy

 

American English Academy

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