This is the first such school in Poland

Teachers teach, but also advise how to use technology in the 21st century communication chaos. Mathematics, Polish, but also. philosophy. Knowledge, but also reflection on knowledge… There are only twenty one such schools in the world. One of them started its activity in Gdynia on September 1 – as the first one in Central-Eastern Europe. General Secondary School Complex No. 8, as the only Polish school, was among the institutions from around the world associated in the Microsoft Flagship School program.

Microsoft Flagship School is a special program, which was launched in September last year. It aims to transform education from the ground up and create modern and innovative schools. As part of it, new educational facilities are being built. They are built with the support of Microsoft and partner companies. But the role of local government is also important. And the students who graduate from the innovative school will form the local community.

The first such school in Poland

– A year ago I was here, and there was nothing here,” said Cecylia Szymańska-Ban, education director at Microsoft during the opening of a new school in Gdynia. – Now there is a school, where children run around, the walls are filled with bustle and life. It’s a great experience for us, because this is the first school in Poland, which we had the pleasure to co-create from the very beginning. I congratulate the local government of Gdynia for their courage in undertaking this work and to all those who have contributed to it.

The school was designed so that it could also serve the local community. The sports hall has been equipped with a full-size pitch with tribunes. There is also an indoor playground. The auditorium and the library will also be available for local residents. There will be film screenings in the auditorium, sports competitions in the hall, and anyone can borrow a book from the library. It is also worth taking the opportunity to play board games, which are becoming more and more popular,
and perfectly fit into the philosophy of the Microsoft school – establishing relationships between people.

And here we come to the point. The school does not only look nice, it has modern rooms, furniture that can be arranged according to specific classes and a canteen. This is complemented by what is most important at the school – the philosophy of working with students, their families and residents.

Lessons with students from the other side of the world

– Teachers at our school know that not only lectures but also teamwork and individual work are important,” said Oktawia Gorzenska, director of the General Education School Complex no. 8. – It is not only important to impart knowledge, but also to make us reflect on it and show us why we acquire knowledge in the first place. Then you can also model the attitudes of young people. Also in the context of technology, which at our school facilitates communication, access to experts from all over the world, as well as to peers from other countries, and thus create positive relationships. That is why lessons are conducted, for example, through instant messaging with students from Great Britain or even Asia. Thanks to the cooperation with Microsoft, we have special applications at our disposal, the teachers have received appropriate equipment: all this helps to show how to find one’s place in the flood of information, in the noise of communication.

The headmistress also admitted that many parents ask with concern whether students will be able to use cell phones in class.

– They definitely do. Our goal is to help children find their way in the new technologies and show them how to use them “with their head”. – added Gorzeńska.

That is why in Gdynia school included in Microsoft Flagship School program all first grade students learn entrepreneurship through Revas business simulations. For example, they take on the role of people running a travel agency. They make plans for trips, excursions, offers for appropriate clients, but they also deal with simulated hiring of employees. Of course, they also run the finances of such companies and compete with each other.

The idea that young people at school should have the opportunity to participate in co-creating the environment in which they spend a part of their lives is unusual. This is done by submitting their own projects to the school management.

– We have applied for trampolines to be installed on the school playground,” said Bartosz Sampolski, a student of the Secondary School Complex No. 8 in Gdynia, who showed the guests around his new school. – We noticed that kindergarten children have such equipment at the playground next to our sports complex. We thought that we could also use something like that here.

Young people also had an influence on the elimination of bells. In this school the song “Should I stay or should I go” by The Clash invites to the break and “Don’t worry, be happy” by Bobbie McFerrin invites to the lesson. It is this kind of relationship between teachers and students that definitely sets this facility apart.

A request for trampolines

– Knowledge is a side effect, Sampolski admitted. – What really matters are the values and preparation for adult life that school gives us. One who is interested in philosophy can explore it. Those who want to learn to cook can do so. Even in biology class, we can “exercise” our brains. (It is a mascot which is used for questioning students and at the same time allows to relieve stress by playing and not “standing at the blackboard”. – editor’s note).

As added by Paweł Hołub, a third grade student who also took a tour of the school, it is a very good solution to create a special space for students and teachers where they can cooperate. But not only with teachers. The school can be visited by e.g. students or experts in various fields of science, industries, with whom meetings with young people are invaluable, e.g. in choosing the right path of development after high school.

– The most important thing for us is to make the school modern, ecological and economical, so that the students come to classes with curiosity and leave satisfied – added Ms. Szymańska-Ban. – This is what we are trying to do at Microsoft. I hope that thanks to this cooperation in Gdynia we will manage to work out recommendations for creating such schools in other places in the country. So that as many young people as possible, but also the inhabitants of cities and towns, could benefit from these ideas, which will be implemented here.

– Education concerns every citizen of the city, parents, grandparents, administrative staff, teachers and students themselves – emphasized Bartosz Bartoszewicz, Gdynia’s Vice President for the Quality of Life. – Investment in education is one of the most important municipal investments. Schools are supposed not only to fulfill educational functions during lessons, but also serve local residents, just like this new building in Gdynia. When children finish classes, the facility will serve the city’s residents, such as a library or playground. This is a result of the fact that this school was built on innovation. The school would not exist in this form if it were not for the cooperation with Microsoft, thanks to which we had access to the best specialists from all over the world. Today we can talk about a modern school from the perspective of not only Gdynia or the Pomeranian Voivodship, but from the perspective of the whole world.

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