Castelli International School- Developing Caring, Inquisitive, Well-Rounded Individuals

An internationally focused curriculum which helps to ignite the students’ curiosity, small class sizes for equal development of every student, and lush green environment consisting of vineyards, olive groves, and gardening plots. These are some of the numerous facilities provided by Castelli International School (CIS), which makes it a sought-after destination for educational excellence.

Established in 1977 and situated at Grottaferrata, Rome, Italy, the school provides a challenging, well-rounded, and international curriculum. It allows the students to think critically, develop research skills, and experience collaborative learning. CIS was the first bilingual school to integrate Italian with the Anglo-Saxon approach to education, including the hands-on approach to teaching to ignite the students’ curious minds. Its campus is nestled in the vineyard-speckled hills of the Castelli Romani with a breath-taking view of Rome in the distance. The vicinity to Rome and its ancient monuments, the Appian Way is just a 10-minute drive from the school, which allows for fascinating school trips at the doorstep.

The school has great facilities, which include outdoor classrooms, a library, a computer suite, garden plots, an educational greenhouse, two AstroTurf football fields, and a multi-purpose court for volleyball, basketball, and tennis. The family atmosphere, small classes, a pleasant country environment and the school’s hands-on approach is clearly expressed in the Chinese proverb:

When I hear, I forget.

When I see, I remember.

When I do, I understand.

Prioritizing Academic Excellence

Academic progress is of paramount importance at CIS. However, that does not mean that it is slavishly ploughing its way through one textbook after another. For the school, it means combining all the things together that make it wonderful to be human— sport, music, drama, art—and integrating them throughout the programmes that it delivers. CIS’s results demonstrate what an effective way this is to achieve its course objectives and learning outcomes.

A Caring Educator

Marianne Palladino, also known as Ms P, is the Head of School. She does not believe in textbooks but acknowledges that they have a place in the classroom. In her opinion, learning should never be restricted to bookish content. Back in the 70s, when Ms P was teaching out of her kitchen and garden, she developed a creative, down-to-earth approach to education. This approach, along with her deep connection to the natural world, infuses and enthuses everyone in the school community. Her deep understanding of education encourages staff to regularly break the mould and take a ‘why not’ approach.

Ms P understands children with exceptional accuracy. Her advocacy for those pupils who find things harder means that every child is lifted to reach their full potential. She ensures that that their difference is celebrated, and everyone plays to their strengths.

Under Ms P’s guidance, when the students graduate from CIS, they enter the world with a sense of confidence and success. The love and respect that successive student bodies have held for her is palpable, and her passion for education and deep respect for the environment makes her a celebrated educator.

Beyond Traditional Teachings

CIS’s classrooms are normally full of expectant children at the end of each day, awaiting whatever after-school club they have chosen to partake in. There are clubs for football, dance, athletics, piano, percussion, drums, and tennis, to name just a few. The school is also very active in the inter-school sports arena, regularly competing and doing extremely well, particularly in football events. Socially, the school has a very active and enthusiastic parents’ association, which organises events such as the annual sports day and Halloween party. Drama also plays a central role in the school, with numerous performances to entertain all throughout the year, but particularly at the end of the winter and summer terms.

Achievements Galore

CIS is not only renowned for its excellent curricular and extra-curricular activities but is also known for the major accomplishments that it has made throughout its impressive tenure. Aside from participating successfully in BIEA (British International Education Association) competition (3rd runner up 2021), the IMUN (Italy Model United Nations), and attending the HMUN (Harvard Model United Nations) for 19 consecutive years, the school does not look for accolades or awards. However, the most rewarding achievement for CIS is when former students enrol their children or when the most difficult students come back and say thank you. This school is constantly focused on innovation and creation with the child/student in the centre.

The Pandemic Dynamic

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the smooth functioning of CIS. However, its most important priority from the outset was to ensure that the students’ academic progress should not be adversely affected by the various lockdowns. That resulted in the remarkably swift organisation of an online platform and the upgrading of teachers’ technological skills to deliver a full programme of lessons throughout the school. A key motivating factor in delivering such a comprehensive programme so quickly was to help ensure that CIS was helping not only its students, but their families. Families were under huge pressure and needed the school to provide a stable daily structure for their children. Upon pupils’ return to school, significant measures were taken to ensure the safety of all in the community. Education about hygiene standards and the insistence upon their implementation were of paramount importance and helped to ensure that the school didn’t have a single case of COVID-19 transmission within the school. “We are also fortunate to have beautiful school grounds and numerous outdoor classroom spaces, so the students can learn and have lessons outdoors,” shares the management.

Career Opportunities and Exposures

CIS always focuses on training every student properly so that they can succeed in their endeavours and build bright careers. No matter what problems the child/student may face the school authorities never discourage, but always encourage and try to find what really interests her/him and what they are good at doing. Once discovered, it develops that part in them and through this interaction, they become more confident. Upon reaching there, the students are led into academic subjects, by having them role play, create presentations, and share their achievements with their peers. This proactive approach makes the student more involved and interested. Students thrive by finding ways to experience and learn more by risking, taking up challenges, and discovering for themselves how to overcome obstacles.

Stepping towards the Future

Team CIS believes that in the future, things would not be ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ based on exams, tests, and numerical grades. In this perspective, teachers will have to play the role of facilitators and discover the student’s strengths and talents. They will have to work together with the students on the weak areas that can be strengthened. The management believes that the spirit should not be competitive but collaborative where students help each other to innovate and explore new fields of knowledge to adapt to the ever-changing conditions in this climate driven earth.

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