ANGELA ASSED: INSPIRING STUDENTS TO THRIVE


The Director of Learning and Curriculum of Anglo-American School of Sofia on good education today

Angela Assed.jpg

The Anglo-American School of Sofia is a rare bird on the local edicational field. Focused on offering top education to international students from all over the globe, it has crafted its curriculum to provide a welcoming and encouraging environment while giving the students the knowledge and intellectual tools necessary for them to grow into responsible and successful adults. Angela Assed is one of the people behind this achievement. An American, she has been with the AAS for nine years. In 2020, she became the school's Director of Learning and Curriculum.

What motivated you to join the team at the Anglo-American School of Sofia?

I truly connected with the school's mission, core values, and approach to education. Although I was educated and previously worked in very traditional educational systems, I quickly realized that such systems no longer prepare students for the quickly evolving future they will enter. AAS has made it their mission to prepare students for that future. The AAS community is also very welcoming and I was quickly able to feel a sense of belonging.

What was the most interesting challenge that you had to deal with when you became a part of AAS?

Like many working mothers, juggling the responsibilities of work and home are always challenging. I think for me it makes it interesting because my children come to work with me. I try to be aware of when I have on an administrator hat and when I have on a parent hat. I always want to make sure these two roles don't conflict, however, I believe that being able to bring a parent perspective to what I do is an asset. I am lucky that despite being teenagers, my kids will acknowledge me and sometimes even hug me when they see me in the hallway.

Education is a very dynamic field of society nowadays. What current trends, in your opinion, are key in order to allow children to grow as thinking and successful citizens? How do you apply these in the AAS?

I do hope education continues to be dynamic and evolving because this wasn't the case for many years. Through most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the majority of education systems followed a model that consisted of rigid systems which taught to the masses and lacked individuality. It prescribed conformity and reinforced qualities like obedience and repetitive work to support an industrial society. Towards the end of the 20th century and with the surge of globalization and interdependence of nations, economies, and cultures, people began to realize that this system was no longer preparing students for success. This, along with the surge of technological advancement, brought about educational models that valued skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and communication.

AAS has always been a progressive school that values these things and continues to foster these skills. However, now more than ever and in the age of AI generated information, we realize the importance of preparing students in data literacy. This means analyzing what information and data is, what it can represent, and why it is collected. In order to make sound and ethical decisions, students must also understand how data is processed and why. Using critical thinking skills to understand information and data and becoming skilled questioners is key to building successful future citizens of the world.

How do you want to see the AAS five years from now?

I want to see AAS continue to create an environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging while pushing students and staff to accomplish things they never thought were imaginable. I would also want to see AAS expand student voice even further and to continue to put students at the forefront of every decision that is made. Finally, I want our service learning initiatives to continue to grow and every student club to include an aspect of service in their goals.

The diversity of the students distinguishes the AAS from most other schools in Sofia. How are you capable of creating an encouraging and stimulating environment for all of them?

Firstly, we truly value the diversity of our community. Our school's mission recognizes the importance of global citizenship and diversity and includes statements to foster these things. At AAS, we continuously strive to "cultivate respect and acceptance of people's identity, culture, and diversity." This begins with ensuring that every person who walks onto our campus is accepted for who they are. Furthermore, through our social emotional curriculum our goal is for students and adults to acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. We value and understand that each student is a unique individual and appreciate what each one adds to our community. Our hope is that our students feel valued and a sense of belonging.

Which of the school's achievements since you joined makes you proudest and why?

There are many achievements that make me proud. One is our commitment to inclusion and expanding our services to support a wider range of students. In addition, a consistent achievement that stands out is the compassion, care, and dedication that I see from our teachers everyday. At any moment when I want to feel inspired, all I need to do is walk into a classroom and observe the amazing things that are happening. It could be an elementary classroom where an inquiry surrounding a bug that was found in the classroom or a question that came up from students' experience. I will see teachers encouraging students to ask questions and to plan how they are going to investigate to answer those questions. I may walk into a middle school English classroom where students are analyzing music videos from popular artists to answer how the visual choices contribute to the meaning of the song lyrics and what messages about relationships the work conveys. I could then walk over to our arts center and see students in practice rooms perfecting their instrument playing skills or observe theater classes debating social issues through theater performances. I may walk into a High School math class where students are learning about linear and quadratic transformations by investigating to what extent does understanding patterns allow you to understand the natural world.

All of these classrooms have students doing the thinking as active learners and teachers serving as facilitators and supporters. I think what makes an organization successful is the parts and pieces that contribute to the whole. Here at AAS the combination of contributions from students, parents, teachers, operational staff, and administrators is what makes AAS such an amazing school to be a part of.

Sofia, 1 Siyanie St

admissions@aas-sofia.org

www.aas-sofia.org

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