Bright Horizons: Learning Beyond the Traditional Definition of Schooling
Bright Horizons

The contemporary world is a roller coaster ride that mankind is enjoying in this diversified multiverse of cultures, ideas, and varied standpoints that are opined through various socioeconomic ideologies. In such a diverse ecosystem, it is important to find relevance between social theories that are being implemented into the day-today working mechanism.

Inculcating such values helps to encompass a broader perspective of the globalized community, setting up a foundation of an ecosystem that is worth living.

This is exactly what Bright Horizons International British School of Zagreb is striving to inculcate in its students and whose glimpses can be observed from the holistic learning arc that student enjoy and evolves.

Though the institute was established in the year 2006, the inception idea dates back to when the school’s current Principal and Founder – Ms Milena Prodanić Tišma, envisioned gifting the world an upbringing and an educative system that allows young minds to recognize themselves and their uniqueness. Curating a supportive system that makes students active participants inculcated a sense of justice and equality based on the widely accepted idea of globalization, making this world a better place to live.

Apart from valuing traits that imbibe diversity, honesty, integrity, and a risk-taking attitude from the beginning of schooling, the school immensely focuses on its mission to nurture the love for learning by valuing what is unique about each child.

Infrastructurally located amidst the lush greenery of Zagreb, Croatia, the school has been awarded as the Top school in the Humanities category to recognize their venture into additional humanities work. Moreover, it is interesting to note that the programs within Bright Horizons’ curriculum, such as Mindfulness and Well-being workshops, are successfully driving change in each and every student.

Let us dive into the story below to uncover more about this vibrant institution!

Into the Foundational Years

Bright Horizons- International British School of Zagreb was introduced as a continuation to its predecessor kindergarten, which was established in 2006. Based in Zagreb, Croatia, the school is blessed with an abundance of nature and greenery surrounding its residential area. The building itself was a purpose-built infrastructure with classrooms filled with natural light and breath-taking views of the city.

As the classrooms are very well technology equipped, they rightly enable up-to-date educational lessons. Ms Milena informs, “To address the needs of the children and parents within our kindergarten, we saw the opportunity to continue providing the same international program but manifesting it through a school that would provide the holistic approach which was also present in the kindergarten.”

Their first school year consisted of five pupils enrolled in the first year. Throughout the years, they felt the need for continuation, and in 2019, they successfully had their first generation of Year 8 pupils.

Holding the Head High with Mission and Vision

An organization driven by future foresight and goal is one that creates a long-lasting impact.

To nurture its student’s holistic development, the International School of Zagreb has based its vision on an international approach that is in partnership with parents’ values and diversity, encourages risk-taking, and empowers children to realize their potential in a highly motivated environment.

Talking about its short-term aims, Ms Milena says, “Our mission is to nurture the love for learning by valuing what is unique about each child.” To achieve this, the institution employs dynamic international staff who not only take pleasure in guiding but also learn from the children and each other.

The children at the school learn to become courageous individuals who are not afraid to take chances. What they ultimately strive to build is to promote respect for all those involved in school life, uphold the values of honesty and integrity, provide an environment full of excellence and high achievements, and safeguard the long-term development and reputation of the organization.

Envisioning a Multicultural Value Based Education System – Ms Milena Prodanić Tišma

The school principal and Founder – Ms Milena Prodanić Tišma, is a leader who values differences, promotes equality, and has a vision for the future. With her mother being a primary school teacher, Ms Prodanić Tišma was familiarized with the educational process from a very young age.

Growing up in this environment, she got the chance to truly see how the educational system works and how to develop it to meet the needs of the children. With this vision imprinted on her, she set out to create a kindergarten and a school that would execute her vision.

When she set out to open the school, her guiding thought was to provide an upbringing and an educative system that would recognize the individual. It is a supportive system in which students would be active participants along with a sense of justice and equality among people, where multiculturalism is their natural environment.

This is what she still withholds in her school, and which will continue to be promoted.

School’s Prime Teachings

The school’s top priorities in terms of learning are to provide a stimulating and challenging learning environment within a broad and balanced curriculum. Another important priority is to nurture and develop the psychological well-being of every child.

Elaborating on its learning structure, Ms Milena informs, “We deliver a broad, balanced and creative curriculum which whilst fulfilling the school aims is also organized in such a way that it delivers on the requirements of the UK national curriculum and the international primary curriculum.” This provides cross-curricular learning within an international context and enables pupils to easily switch to a new school even if they move abroad.

Being children of the 21st century, they have also added the UN Sustainable Goals throughout their curriculum. Ms Milena says, “We would like our pupils to become aware and familiar with the current world situation and how they can become active citizens in the future world.”

Through class work, each teacher adds elements of a chosen Sustainable goal and works together with the children through the topics to not only familiarize them with the problem but also to come up with a solution.

Further, the school adopts The International Primary Curriculum as a way to enrich learning experiences. As Ms Milena describes, “The course is based on the following education goals: Knowledge goals, Competency goals, Inside goals (understanding), International learning goals and personal goals (investigation, respect, cooperation, adaptability, caring, resilience, ethics, communication).”

And hence, international learning goals are unique throughout the Bright Horizons school curriculum as they help young children begin to move towards an increasingly sophisticated international and intercultural perspective. Each thematic IPC units include an international context to help develop an international conscience.

Aspiring for Quality Education

Having qualified and experienced staff members is one of the primary criteria in order to have a quality education. The school promises quality with its staff members, who are all qualified and experienced teachers and who bring many different values, qualities, and skills to the school. Giving deeper insights into this, Milena says, “At the beginning of the school year, all staff members are included in the planning for the upcoming school year where ideas and suggestions are exchanged to create a wholesome school plan and program. Also, at the end of the school year, once again, the staff members gather once more to reflect and recap on how the past school year was; what were the strengths, what were the weaknesses, and what can we improve?”

Apart from this, quality is made permanent through various school assessments that take place throughout the school year, where the progress of pupils is tracked to make sure that all pupils are receiving the needed support to be able to achieve their highest academic pinnacle.

Enjoying with e-Learning

Milena’s response to the pace of adaptability to e-learning was inspiring. She says, “It adapted great! Our biggest advantage in times of the past global health emergency situation period has been our complete adaptability of teaching classes online.”

The entire process was coordinated and monitored by a professional service. Pupils also had the option to help with individual online consultations with teachers or school counsellors if they needed additional support. Milena informs, “We had used innovative learning programs to stimulate a regular school day as faithfully as possible. All the new programs that we introduced, including e-learning, go through an evaluation after the initial stage, which includes all the participants. The evaluation shows us how successful we were and what direction we need to take further.”

Inculcating a Growth Mindset Approach

Personal goals are a part of the school’s mainstream curriculum, which assists pupils with preparing for the future. These are the goals that promote the development of intra-personal characteristics, help the pupils to learn how to act towards one another and know what it means to take an active part in the multicultural society they find themselves in every day.

Milena shares, “At the beginning of every term, we set a new goal for the pupils, which then teachers implement in their work and, more importantly, promote the collaboration between the children and teacher while teaching them how to use these goals in everyday life.”

At Bright Horizons, teachers teach children about a growth mindset approach and, at the same time, follow it actively. The philosophy at school is based on this, and teachers encourage pupils to take on challenges and push themselves because, according to the principal of the school, this is the best way to develop oneself. At the school, effort and hard work are always praised in order to promote the growth mindset approach. Milena says, “We have also implemented mindfulness workshops at school, which helps pupils with regulating their emotions and lowering stress levels in middle-year pupils.”

Envision a Future of Active Citizens

Talking about spreading the school’s vision further in the future, Milena says, “With all of the above said, we hope to continue our work that is based on promoting the well-being of pupils, developing their personal goals as a preparation for their future as well as expanding their academic knowledge as well.”

Their main future prospect is to open up a continuation of their primary school and offer a high school program for their pupils where they can continue to learn, grow, and become active citizens of the 21st century.

In the Global Limelight

Bright Horizons-International British School of Zagreb has been awarded as being the 2021/2022 Top private humanities school in the world according to Lookup school, a global registry listing over 5,000 private schools worldwide.

Each year, registered schools are evaluated for their hard work and accomplishments in a variety of categories. After having qualified, Bright Horizons IBSZ was awarded as a Top School in the Humanities category as they include additional humanities work and programs within their curriculum, such as Mindfulness and Well-being workshops.

Elated about these achievements, Milena remarks, “Not only did this serve to further enhance learning for our growing number of Croatian and international students, but we also gained the recognition of Lookup school as being that year’s top private school for humanities.”

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