A conference summing up the 15th anniversary of the “School with Class” initiative and inaugurating its another edition in the school year 2016/17 was held in Warsaw on November 15, 2016. The event was attended by co-founders of the initiative, its allies and supporters, and first of all participants of both this year’s and previous editions.
The venue of the conference was the office of Gazeta Wyborcza, that has co-organized the “School with Class” initiative since 2002, together with the Center for Citizenship Education and the School with Class Foundation.
The conference was opened by President of the School with Class Foundation Agata Łuczyńska. She welcomed the participants, especially cordially those who co-created the “School with Class” in 2002 and have been involved in it for many years. President Łuczyńska proudly emphasized that 9 thousand schools, 100 thousand teachers and more than one million students took part in the “School with Class” initiative over the last 15 years.
The Polish-American Freedom Foundation has been the partner of this initiative from its very inception. Katarzyna Maniszewska, PAFF Program Director, speaking on behalf of the PAFF team, thanked the “School with Class” initiators, organizers and participants. Congratulating them on the 15th anniversary of their fruitful work on modernization of Polish education she stressed the special role played in this process by the Center for Citizenship Education. She also pointed to the synergy with the “Learning Schools” Program which is a joint initiative implemented for 16 years by the Center for Citizenship Education and PAFF. It was from the first experiences of LES that the “School with Class” drew from.
Wojciech Bartkowiak, Vice President of the Agora Foundation and a journalist of Gazeta Wyborcza, thanked students and teachers – the “School with Class” participants for their contribution to the program for 15 years. He also noted that “schools with class” have always existed where there are open teachers and directors who are not scared to create opportunities and allow students to show that they are independent and creative. Such openness brings fruits and translates into students’ successes and that is the reason why Agora and Gazeta Wyborcza have systematically and consistently supported the “School with Class” initiative from its beginning.
Alicja Pacewicz, Vice President of the Center for Citizenship Education and the “School with Class” originator recalled the principles adopted for the first edition of the initiative – the school shall teach well each student, school assesses each student justly, school teaches creative and critical thinking, school develops socially, school helps students start to believe in themselves, school prepares for the future – and emphasized that each of them has been equally relevant for all that time. The plenary part of the conference was also attended by: Jacek Strzemieczny, President of the Center for Citizenship Education, Jacek Michałowski, Head of the Chancellery of the President of Poland in 2010-2015 and former PAFF Program Director (a coordinator of the “School with Class” initiative, among others), Rafał Lew-Starowicz, Vice Director of the Department of Schoolbooks, Programs and Innovation at the Ministry of National Education, Mirosław Sielatycki, Vice Director of the Education Bureau at the Warsaw City Hall, Włodzimierz Marciński, Leader of Digitalization and the Minister of Digitalization Plenipotentiary for Development of Digital Competence in Administration, Izabela Fortuniak, Director of the Social Communication Division of the Office of Ombudsman for Children and experts in education, including Grażyna Czetwertyńska and Katarzyna Znaniecka-Vogt who participated in 2002 in creation of the “School with Class” initiative and today teach future teachers at the PAFF and Warsaw University School of Education.
The jubilee conference was preceded by a workshop session for “Dream your school” students where the participants discussed four areas of school life, that is “learning”, “technologies”, “educational space” and “people/relations”. The conclusions of that session were presented to the guests of the conference on November 15 and made a basis for a workshop session that was held in the later part of the conference. Teachers and school directors discussed the students’ requests, resources they have to meet these requests and challenges that they pose.
The “School with Class” is a nationwide educational initiative carried out since 2002 by the Center for Citizenship Education (and at present by the School with Class Foundation) and Gazeta Wyborcza daily, in cooperation with the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. Its objective is to promote the school that prepares students to live in the modern world, encourages them to undertake new challenges and educates active citizens. The “School with Class” is addressed to all levels of schools from all over Poland. Since 2002, a total of over 9 thousand schools have participated in the initiative; on the occasion of its 15th anniversary the map of these schools has been prepared. It is available at: at http://www.szkolazklasa.org.pl/szkoly-z-klasa/