A Letter from a Principal: I Recognized the Importance of Being Together in These Trying Times

Откриване на учебната година Обу Йордан Йовков

We believe that one of the key elements which should be highlighted, especially considering what our education system has been going through over the past few months, is school-level support.  We’ve come to realize that in these uncertain times we don’t necessarily need quick solutions, but rather resolute people and partners willing to tackle these challenges with us. Partners who understand what we’re going through and who are motivated to find the best solutions with us.

We do believe that we are this type of partner to all schools who have chosen to work with us and we are sincerely grateful to Mrs. Nikolova for her kind words of appreciation. We are publishing the letter she sent us in March with her permission. 

We are also currently recruiting our new partner schools for 2020/2021.

Tanya Nikolova, principal of “Yordan Yovkov” School in Plovdiv

Hello, friends from Teach For Bulgaria!

The entire education system is faced with an incredible challenge – to adapt to the “new normal” in just 24 hours. Some educators had relevant experience, while others struggled. 

I’m writing this letter to thank you, Teach For Bulgaria, for giving me the opportunity to work with smart, creative, intelligent young people like Silvia Itova (link in Bulgarian) and Rozalia Mitseva. We would not have been able to deal with this tough situation without them. All I did was tell Silvia that we had to transition to remote teaching and that we weren’t ready. We had teachers who had gone through various trainings, we had activated our cloud service, but we hadn’t invested enough effort into mastering remote teaching. The current situation forced us to “sprint”.  

On her own accord and in just two days, Silvia worked day and night to create Google Classroom accounts for teachers and students. She also taught other teachers how to use the platform. She helps her colleagues all the time. 

Rozalia has also been very proactive. Both girls (I call them girls because they are as old as my daughters) are very tech-savvy. Of course, we have other competent and qualified teachers at our school, but we did not have the courage to make this leap. We’ve always thought that such a transition wouldn’t be so easy with Roma students. We were pushed to make this transition and we proved that we could handle it pretty well. 

Not everything is perfect, naturally. Many students are still passive and so are their parents. But only teachers who have worked with such students can truly appreciate any progress they make. 

We have a lot more to learn about remote teaching and all of its applications. We are at the very beginning of our journey, but as the old Chinese saying goes: a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I believe we’ve already taken the first step. 

Once again, I would like to express my gratitude to Mrs. Evgenia Peeva, Mr. Trayan Trayanov, Ms. Neli Koleva, and everyone at Teach For Bulgaria for your commitment to recruit and support such successful young people. 

I did not dare to trust you before. I could not believe that what you presented at various events and forums was the whole truth. Forgive me for my honesty, but now I know. You do create leaders. Working with “Your teachers” had always been rewarding, but it wasn’t until this tough situation that I realized how important it was to work with people who do not need detailed instructions, who follow your lead, and who are in this together with you. 

THANK YOU!

LET’S BE IN THIS TOGETHER BECAUSE ALL CHILDREN DESERVE IT!

TANYA NIKOLOVA,PRINCIPAL OF “YORDAN YOVKOV” SCHOOL, PLOVDIV (LINK IN BULGARIAN)

March 19, 2020, Plovdiv


Editor’s note: We hesitated for a long time before we finally decided to publish this letter. We received it in the middle of March, back when schools were struggling to make the transition towards remote teaching, right when we also had to restructure and change most of our workstreams. This letter inspired and motivated us. It was exceptionally rewarding for every single member of our team. And yet, we thought it would show a lack of modesty, if we published it, even if it reflected the sincere sentiments of one of our partners.

A few months later, when people started analyzing the process of remote teaching and learning in order to evaluate the measures taken by different institutions and map out next steps, we finally decided that it was time to share this letter with you.


You can read more interviews with principals of partner schools here (link in Bulgarian).

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