Ruska is a 7th grade student from Karadzhovo (Southern Bulgaria). She belongs to a Roma group known for the early marriages of school-age girls. However, Ruska`s dream is to continue her studies and attend a prestigious high school in Plovdiv, where she can study English in an intensive programme. Both her mother and father are unemployed and cannot afford the tuition costs. The traditional beliefs of her parents and community, that Roma girls should marry early in order to save their family’s honour, are also against Ruska. With the help of Teach for Bulgaria, Ruska overcame the financial and cultural barriers and changed her life trajectory. She won the Trust for Social Achievement scholarship, the 1000 Stipends scholarship and a monthly personal scholarship provided by prof. Howard Smith from Banks College, New York. Ruska is now an 8th grade student at the National Vocational School of Commerce in Plovdiv. She is the first in her family to attend high school.

This is the story of Joana, one of the teachers of Teach for All Bulgariа, and her students Tanya and Anna Maria. Joana teaches English and Philosophy in a high school, situated in a village near Sofia. Her first impression of the students was that they show no interest in their future, regard themselves as incapable and see no point in striving for better results in school.

In the beginning, Tanya was a student with average grades. Anna Maria was a “difficult” student that was often absent or late for classes. Joana saw the potential in the girls and set individual goals for them that included not only improving their academic results but essential skills such as time management, critical thinking, presentation skills, etc. She supported them during this challenge and worked individually with each of them. In the process, both students showed considerable achievements with regard to their grades and overall change in attitude and perception for success. Tanya became a leader in the class, showing great motivation for school and Anna Maria had considerably changed her behaviour and increased her interest in her education, which showed in her better scores on tests, attendance and confidence. Anna Maria thinks that working with our teacher helped her become more confident and active and helped her to see the value of education, team-work and following her goals.

Watch the story of Joana and her students Tanya and Anna Maria here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce9lDqMEtdk&feature=youtu.be (for English, turn on the captions)

Hristiyan is a student in the 8th grade in a small village in northern Bulgaria called Brestnitza. He is neither interested in studying nor motivated to do so and is among the least successful and lowest scoring students in his class. His only goal in life is to obtain his basic education (8th grade) diploma so that he can get a driver’s licence.

After a year of work with his teachers Tzvetomira and Violeta, Hristiyan recognised the change within himself. In his end-of-year essay, he wrote “even a little knowledge is better than complete ignorance”. His transformation is truly impressive. He is currently studying in a highschool in the nearby town of Teteven and visits the school in Brestnitza to meet with the students to motivate and lead them by example.

This is incredible progress for Hristiyan, because the village school offers only basic education up to the 8th grade, thereby putting a limit on children’s dreams. A basic education is as far as the dreams in Brestnitza go, because without such a diploma one cannot get a driver’s licence. Despite this limitation, Hristiyan is breaking the mould and going on to a new town with new aspirations to get a secondary and higher education.

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