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261 Education: International and language schools


A stepping stone


to lifelong learning The Anglo-American School of Sofia has been emphasising pastoral care and a rounded education for nearly 50 years


not very ambitious,” says Jim Urquhart, Principal at the Anglo- American School of Sofia (AAS). “Students need to be prepared for life. When they’re 55 or 60, they need to be able to turn around and say ‘What I did at school really made a difference to me’.” Tis Bulgaria-based school was set up in 1967 to educate


T


the children of diplomatic staff at the UK and US embassies, as well as the local community. Currently, around 470 students from more than 40 countries attend the school. From pre-school to Grade 10 the children study a curriculum based on the US Common Core and the European Framework; following this, they study the IB diploma. “It works because the American curriculum is adjusted to align with the demands on the IB diploma,” says Urquhart. Te school is accredited by the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of School and Colleges. It’s also an authorised International Baccalaureate World School and a member of Te Council of British International Schools.


Beyond the academic Te school’s initials, AAS, might also stand for Arts, Athletics and Service. “Tat’s because we prize these just as much as academic subjects,” says Urquhart. In the words of one student, these activities are exceptionally valuable. “I would not otherwise have had the occasion to see and touch the whole world by travelling for various school activities,” says 17-year-old Teodore, “and by staying with local families and meeting people with outlooks on life that are different or similar to mine. Tese enrich me and make my daily studies even more enjoyable.” One of the projects that Teodore is referring to is a


year-long scheme led by Grade 4 students to help Syrian refugees. Students organised and ran their own fundraising efforts and collected bags of donated goods to give to the refugees. Such was


he best schools don’t concentrate only on academic disciplines. “Just being prepared for the next grade is


“Our goal is not just to pump out kids that are doing well academically: that’s the bare minimum”


the sense of community this project brought about that students have requested that the scheme be extended to include visits to the refugee reception centres, and to inviting refugee children to visit the school. Other activities include community arts partnerships,


with children exhibiting their artwork at local art studios and collaborating with local artists and other schools. Tere is also a full calendar of sporting events coordinated by Te Central and Eastern European Schools Association. Te school offers a number of scholarships to local children, which allow them to study at the school for no cost.


A weekend hub At weekends, AAS is just as busy. Many adult classes take place, both fitness-related and for those continuing their learning. Te school is also becoming a professional development hub, with the Google Apps for Education Balkans Summit taking place there at the tail end of 2013, for instance. In August 2012, AAS completed a significant building


project, doubling its capacity. Sitting under the foot of the imposing Vitosha Mountain, the campus features many open multipurpose areas, offering flexible learning environments with natural light as the common thread. Te school is friendly yet driven; academic standards are high, and all students to date have graduated onto university. “But our goal is not just to pump out kids that are doing well academically—that’s the bare minimum,” says Urquhart. Teodore agrees: “For me, AAS is not just a school, it


is an important and an unforgettable stage of my life,” he says. “It’s a stepping stone to my future education and life abroad.” — www.aas-sofia.org


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