Innovations and Warmth: The Journey of Zolochе’s Educational Space

Welcome to a world where education is transforming, adapting to the needs of modernity. In this interview with the director of the International Lyceum “Zolochе” – Sofiya Rovinska, we uncover the founding story of the lyceum within the cottage town of “Zolochе”. Dive with us into the narrative of the vision that inspired the creation of this educational complex, and learn how innovations and a bilingual program are opening new horizons for students.

Sofiya, could you tell us about the founding story of the Zolochе school? What events or personal stories acted as a catalyst for its creation?

The story of our lyceum in the cottage town of “Zolochе” began with the realization of the need to provide residents with quality education right at their doorsteps. Given that the school is located outside the city, we decided to create an educational infrastructure that meets the highest standards while providing convenience for the town’s residents and the surrounding communities. The project’s owner was inspired by the dream of accessing high-quality education that meets international standards without the need to look for educational institutions far from home.

We take pride in being one of the first schools in Ukraine to introduce bilingual education, having received an official Cambridge International license. Our school is part of the global network of Cambridge International Schools, highlighting our commitment to providing quality education open to global opportunities.

The Zolochе Lyceum has received Cambridge IGCSE accreditation. How does this program influence the personal development of students, and what unique opportunities does it open for them after school?

The Cambridge IGCSE program opens up broad perspectives for students, allowing them to choose from a variety of subjects we select together based on their interests and future ambitions. Importantly, the entire course is conducted in English. This not only facilitates an in-depth study of the language but also prepares students for the international educational environment.

This program serves as a significant stimulus for the development of student’s critical thinking, as it is based on thorough analysis and independent work with the material. Students are actively engaged in project work and team collaboration, developing their communication skills and the ability to work collectively.

During the two-year course, students prepare to take seven exams, including two foreign languages – English and Spanish are mandatory. Spanish is offered as the second foreign language in our lyceum. Options also include mathematics, a comprehensive science block (chemistry, biology, physics), business education and economics, as well as advanced mathematics.

Completing the program and successfully passing the exams culminates in receiving certificates recognized by leading international schools, colleges, and universities around the world. This provides our graduates with a unique opportunity to continue their studies through the A-Level program or to enter higher education institutions abroad, depending on the requirements of specific universities.

Cambridge IGCSE not only prepares students for future careers and higher education but also provides a solid foundation for the development of personal qualities such as independence. The ability to analyze, and express one’s thoughts, which are invaluable in today’s world.

How does the school integrate international and national educational standards, and how does this influence the future paths chosen by your graduates?

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At our school, we have developed a unique proprietary methodology for constructing the academic schedule that allows for the integration of national and international educational programs in a 60% to 40% ratio, respectively. This approach was selected due to the flexibility of the Cambridge international program, which not only allows for the adaptation of the curriculum to student needs but also provides access to quality international education without overburdening students.

In primary school, we apply a mixed model, where half of the day is dedicated to the national program and the other half to the international program. In the higher and middle grades, classes are organized in pairs, ensuring an effective combination of both programs. We strive to avoid overload, for example, by not planning the study of mathematics in two languages on the same day to prevent student overload.

This approach to integrating educational standards opens up broad opportunities for our graduates for further education. They can choose between entering universities in Ukraine or continuing their education abroad at international universities and colleges. Thanks to the Cambridge system, our students easily adapt to studying in English, as they already possess the necessary language level and are familiar with international terminology. As a result, Zolochе Lyceum graduates achieve a high level of foreign language proficiency, which is a significant advantage in their further educational and professional journey.

Tell us about the innovative methodologies and technologies you apply to ensure high-quality education.

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Our core principle is to provide high-quality bilingual education, balanced between the national curriculum (60%) and the Cambridge international program (40%). We take pride in our team of experienced teachers who work with both Ukrainian and international programs. Particularly, foreign teachers with proper education and experience join us, as well as our Ukrainian educators who have international teacher status, delivering subjects at a high level.

Thanks to our “English Policy”, our school creates a language immersion environment: lessons, student support, breaks, walks, and dining times are conducted in English, ensuring full immersion in an English-speaking setting.

Our school is distinguished by its unique atmosphere: it is intimate and cozy, with a maximum of 15–16 students per class, which allows us to provide an individual approach to each child. We strive to create a friendly and warm environment where every student feels part of a large family, is not afraid of teachers, and can freely express their thoughts. Our educators act not only as mentors but also as guides into the world of knowledge, always ready to support and assist students in any situation. All this enables us not only to provide quality education but also to nurture happy, well-rounded individuals.

How does the Lyceum support the talents and interests of its students? Are there special programs or clubs for developing their abilities?

In our Lyceum, we actively support the talents and interests of every student, providing them with the opportunity to believe in themselves and develop their abilities. We organize events and psychological training sessions that encourage children to feel free and confident, not afraid to express their talents and to be leaders in their interests.

The Lyceum offers a wide range of clubs covering various directions – from sports to creative arts. For example, our handmade club is hugely popular among students, where they can create unique handmade items, learning together with the teacher, using ideas from Pinterest. We also have sports clubs, such as a football academy, volleyball, badminton, and a painting studio, which is led by our psychologist art therapist. This allows children not only to develop their physical and creative skills but also to work on their emotional state, especially in stressful situations.

Additionally, we offer clubs in mental arithmetic, speed reading, and ballroom dancing, enabling each student to find an activity they enjoy and develop their abilities in different areas. We strive to create an environment where every child can discover and reveal their talents, feeling supported and encouraged by the Lyceum.

What strategies do you employ to develop communication skills, critical thinking, and creativity among students?

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Our school provides substantial psychological support. We have two psychologists on staff, one of whom is an art therapist. We regularly hold psychological studios, trainings, and workshops where we work with children, and the children are not afraid to express themselves. They can distinguish their desires from others, understand how to build relationships, how to navigate through crises or stressful situations, how to manage their anger, how to trust, and how to discern. There’s a lot we cover, so the psychological climate among our students and teachers is our top priority because it’s the foundation of success and functionality.

Our students also participate in Olympiads, winning awards at district and regional levels. For instance, recently, one of our 10th graders placed second in a regional English language Olympiad. We are incredibly proud of the many students who study diligently and prepare thoroughly, and we are delighted by their achievements.

We are proud that our children do not want to go on vacation. They want to continue learning. Parents always say that they still can’t get used to the fact that their kids constantly want to go to school. And for us, this is the highest indicator. When children joyfully go to our school, when all employees are happy to come to work, and even in the summer, everyone misses it and is already looking forward to the start of the school year. This is probably our most significant achievement!

 

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