Castelli International School– Transforming Students into the Leaders of Tomorrow
Castelli International School

Education is essential to ensure that individuals achieve success in various endeavors while building a bright career path. In order to accomplish this objective, many students focus on pursuing excellent education from international institutions of repute, which provide a lasting educational experience, accompanied by superior infrastructural facilities and a career-oriented perspective.

One such leading institution focused on attaining excellence in academic endeavors is Castelli International School. Situated a few kilometers south of Rome, the school aims to develop, inquisitive, caring, and well-rounded global citizens.

Throughout the excerpts mentioned below, the school shares its incredible journey of academic excellence.

  1. Please tell us about the School and its mission/vision and its various infrastructural facilities.

Founded in 1977 Castelli International School (CIS)  is situated south of Rome overlooking the city with  St. Peter’sin full view. It is nestled in between vineyards and olive groves in the smog-free Castelli Romani hills. The school’s garden plots, educational greenhouse, multi-purpose court (tennis, basketball, volleyball) and 2 AstroTurf football pitches provide for plenty of fresh air outdoor learning activities. The elementary and middle school libraries, computer room and interactive whiteboards motivate the student’s inquisitive nature to further explore the realms of knowledge.

Our mission is based on three major forces expressed so well by Rudolf Steiner:

Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives.  The need for imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of responsibility — these three forces are the very nerve of education.

The basis for this is clearly expressed in the Chinese proverb:

When I hear, I forget.

When I see, I remember.

When I do, I understand.

  1. What steps are you taking to ensure the development of the school?

The best way to express the development of the school is by quoting the letter from the Head:

“It was a dream… how to start a school, to integrate a rich and vast Italian programme into an international school curriculum. It was a dream … to create a unique school where, for children coming from all over the world, learning becomes a continuous and exciting experience of joy, hardships, perseverance, determination and final realization that all obstacles in life can be overcome with patience, respect, consideration, acquisition of culture and love.

Thanks to: an unforgettable parent who introduced Steiner education and believed that I, unknowingly, was a ‘Steinerian’ educator; an exceptionally creative and intelligent Science teacher who gave birth to the School’s name with a quick 5-minute sketch of the school that became the first school logo.

I still remember the first day of school when our excited students received the very first huge whiteboard, a gift from a loyal and supportive parent, which we still use in our library! Throughout the years parents continued to contribute their energy, passion and know-how to keep the school spirit going.

The school was rustic, to say the least, with 5 professors and 7 students starting at 11 yrs, through 16 yrs. The location was an abandoned peasant abode amid vineyards and olive groves.  Building is not allowed because the beautiful property is environmentally protected.

The kitchen became the science room, the bedroom, a library and the living room the classroom. The students began to arrive from north and south Rome and the Castelli area. The ‘adventure’ had begun. During cold days students went out to get wood to warm the antique clay stove that was our central heating. As the school kept growing we moved into abandoned cantinas, wine cellars, stables, chicken coops and pig stys. With our creative instincts and the hard work of our students, storage rooms were emptied. The wine cellar became the library, cement wine vats were transformed into reading cubby holes. An old swimming hole was made into the science room.

The remaining stables, pigsties and chicken coops became classrooms! And the last storage room full of bottles, kegs, and even snake skins, was transformed into Kids Point, named so by my second son, which is the central social gathering and snacking place for students and parents.

We were the first school to acquire a Sharp computer. There were no websites, no apps, no internet connections. Our students had to learn how to program their own work! They succeeded in creating tests for their peers, preparing reports without the ‘help’ tools and ready-made sites available today. The school kept growing until there were no more cantinas or storage rooms left to ‘exploit’. A waiting list began. Sadly, we could not accept everyone but had we been allowed to build, our healthy green environment would have been destroyed.

Today the physical appearance of the classrooms is much improved and the need to fit them into the existing structures made each classroom original and unique. What is most precious to this ‘dream’ is that the spirit remains: one of adventure and learning, forging ahead as the world around us continues to change, thanks to our faculty, staff and staunch support of our parents and friends.”

  1. Kindly describe to us the different courses offered by your school.

The CIS  curriculum is based on a unique ‘marriage’ between the Italian Ministerial programme and the English based Cambridge curriculum. The Italian Ministerial programme offers a very extensive, globally based and structured curriculum covering all STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths).  All subjects are taught in English except for languages (Italian andFrench) which are taught by mother-tongue teachers.  As the English programme usesmore of a hands-on approach whereas the Italian one has a moretheoretical approach, combining the two makes the whole curriculum more challenging and enriching.  Examples of both can be seen in the photos below:  here you could put in a photo of the shadoofs and one of  kids sitting and doing their temas.

Project-Based Learning is emphasized throughout where students take a topic of their choice and research it in depth. This results in ‘flipped learning’ where students present their slide presentations to the class as well as to other classes where the topic links to the subject studied.  For example, the 6th graders who studied the development of paper, ancient and modern, showed their slides on papyrus to the 4th graders who were studying Egypt.

The school stresses the importance of linking the topics studied to other subjects. For example, the 7th graders are studying Shakespeare which then results in preparing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for Drama. As the eighth graders study the social consequences of the industrial revolution in History, in English they read Charles Dickens and act out the ‘Christmas Carol’ for Drama as well as discuss the importance of being considerate and generous towards others in their PSHE (physical, social and health education)classes.

OurEarth to Table classes integrate academic disciplines with nutrition, culture, music and the arts where students learn to taste what they grow in their vegetable plots.

  1. What steps are you taking beyond the traditional curriculum to ensure overall development of the students?

Tofurther enliven their learning experience all students from elementary through middle school take educationaltrips to enrich their studies.  The elementary grades take day trips ranging from nature reserves, concerts, museums to appropriate ballets. The fifth graders get their first overnight trip by spending the night in a simulated Etruscan village where they experience how the Etruscans lived.    The middle school students go to expositions dealing with the arts and take weeklong trips. For example the 6th and 7th graders go to Florence, or Verona, Vicenza and Venice (called the 3-V trip) among other cultural sites to supplement their studies in the medieval and Renaissance periods.  In the graduating year our students participate at the Harvard Model United Nations Conference in Boston which they have been doing for 18 consecutive years.

  1. Kindly enlighten us about the various accomplished alumni of the school.

Our alumni are working around the world in various sectors and companies many having pursued their passions in careers like engineering, finance, journalism, medicine and education.

  1. Please tell us about the major achievements of the school.

Castelli International is one of the founding members of the Rome International Schools Association (RISA) and is a Cambridge International School. It is one of the first schools in Italy that incorporated Food Studies lessons into its curriculum, where students are introduced to the pleasures of whole foods via sensory-based exposure. Therefore, beginning at a young age, students learn to eat healthy whole foods and, as a consequence, develop a healthy habit that promotes wellness and prevents disease.

For many years Castelli International was the only school from Italy represented in the annual Harvard Model United Nations conference (HMUN).

Over the years CastelliInternational  has supported and encouraged local educational ventureslike Antiquitates, an archeological, hands-on learning centreclose to Rome.

  1. Kindly enlighten us about the major collaborations of the school.

This year, Castelli International has participated, together with other international schools in Rome in the Campaign for Plastic Reduction (CPR). This project was successfully implemented throughout the entire school community, greatly reducing the consumption of plastic at school, in our lunch services, the school office and home-brought plastics.

The school collaborated with schools in England and the USA on nutrition projects, where students communicated with each other on results achieved.  Collaboration with foreign schools and the exchange of methods and ideas are actively encouraged among students as well as teacher trainees through the ERASMUS program.

  1. Where is the school heading towards? Kindly tell us about your future plans.

The school works towards zero waste by continuing to improve infrastructure which will favour our growing green environment, like collecting and reusing precious rainwater in water collection tanks, installing alternative energy sources and planting trees on Earth Day.

We strive to teach our students to become responsible leaders of tomorrow by encouraging teamwork and collaboration in order to form caring, well-rounded, global citizens who will take an active role in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

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