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World Mag > WM Summer 2015 edition > Interview with Corina Cacicovschi

Interview with Corina Cacicovschi

Member of the AISB Faculty and Staff since 1994

WM: Mrs. Cacicovschi, you have been working at AISB since 1994, so you have been at the school
for over 20 years. Please tell us 5 differences between then and now.

CC: This is my 20th school year at AISB, and I cannot mistake it, as I started working here when Mihai, my son, was 4 months old and he just turned 20 this spring. As for di erences between now and then... in 1994, when I started working for the American School of Bucharest (the name of our school back then) I was 28 years old, an optical engineer who realized that working in science research could not ensure a living, and a new mother wanting to learn about educating children. The school was so di erent than now, too! Small, functioning in three di erent campuses, everyone knew anyone in the community, more of a family- style atmosphere.


WM: What makes AISB special? How come you decided to stay at AISB for so long?


CC: AISB was special for me because it allowed me to grow professionally and personally, and it allowed me to do what I always loved most: learn. Twelve years ago, the director of the school, faced with the need to hire a new math teacher locally, decided to give me the chance to prove myself in this position, after working for several years as a Teacher Assistant in the Elementary School and as a Secretary in the Secondary School. It turned out that teaching is my dream job, a job in which I always have to learn, to keep up with developments of the profession; a job in which I spend most of my time surrounded by young people, trying to create in my classroom an atmosphere
in which students can grow while exploring the beauty of math without the fear of mistakes.

WM: Tell us about 3 special moments spent at AISB you’ll never forget.

CC: Moments I’ll never forget: The last math class with my rst series of seniors in the Math SL class, when students came to class and asked me to prepare to share with them, in the second half of the period, something to take with them for life. I felt honored and a bit scared; I spent half an hour thinking about how I can encapsulate a lifetime of experiences into some advice that will be helpful and signi cant for my students. 

The period after my husband died, 12 years ago. I have never seen, before or after that, the whole community being so helpful and supporting of one of its members. Money, food, owers, cards, a good word from a long gone colleague or student; I had all the comfort that one could wish for at such a di cult time.

One visit years ago, my HS Service Learning group went to a children’s hospital where we were playing with orphan babies and toddlers, shedding tears of joy as one of the toddlers made her rst steps by herself under the care and guidance of one of our students. I was so proud to be accompanying a group of teenagers that knew they could make a di erence in the lives of some less fortunate children. I lived that feeling so many other times through years with Middle and High School students involved in Service Learning activities.

WM: Name 5 students you remember most and the reason.

CC: Sabrina Sotiriu, from my rst generation of tenth grade students, smart, hardworking and always so positive; I was lucky to have her as a student those days.

Cosmin Ghita, enjoying every opportunity that the school had to o er; he told me he would win the CEESA High School math competition and he did.

Shirin Johari, Monica de Romeo, Lara and Nora Douedari and the other students in their generations who I worked with when they were in first grade, and again years later in their High School years. 

Ewa Nizalowska, who for a whole school year wrote in her notebook quotes with my sayings in class, and took them out of the context in fun ways, like “whenever I encounter negative powers I turn them into positive powers and use them to solve problems.” Student A, student B, student C, and all other students whose names I forgot, but whose handwritten thank you notes or cards I still keep and look through once in a while, when I need to remind myself why, even when feeling exhausted, I still cannot imagine myself doing anything else for a living, but teach.

WM: For all these years you have been teaching Math. What impact do you think it had on the students and why?

CC: Over the last 12 years, I taught MYP Mathematics in all grades between 7th and 10th grade, along with Standard Level Math in the Diploma Program. Having taught 6 different courses helps me to be a better teacher, as I am aware of what my students learned in previous years, as well as the needs they will have in math classes in years to come. Also, I believe that my engineering background is a plus, as many times I can give my students various examples of real life applications of the math they learn in school. Being one of the “old” teachers in the math department, along with other teachers that only stay in this school for a few years, brings a good balance in the department. I see myself as a team member and I do my best for my team.

WM: What about your involvement with extracurricular activities? Tell us a little about this. What are some of your favorite memories?

CC: I prepared students for both High School and Middle School CEESA Math competitions. Unlike sports competitions, these are less noisy, and less dynamic. Nevertheless, when one of my students is in the final round, my blood pressure sure goes up. I thoroughly enjoy the preparation work with the team and I get easily caught in the enthusiasm displayed by young mathematicians.

WM: You have two sons, one who graduated from AISB last year and one who will be finishing school at AISB soon. What do you think the value of their education at AISB has been? What is your eldest son studying and what does your younger son want to pursue? How do you feel their time at AISB has impacted their studies and their lives?

CC: Last year, Mihai went to Denmark to study civil engineering. In our conversations, he many times mentions being amazed of the advantages he has over students who were not in an IB program in High School. A lot of emphasis is put on group work, the way many times projects are done in our school; students have to often complete reflections, and many of them still struggle understanding the importance of the reflection process. Overall, Mihai’s transition from High School to University was smooth, and AISB surely had a great role in preparing my son for it.

Mircea is blossoming in our school. I can’t stop wondering about the interesting approaches to learning that he is exposed to in his classes, and comparing these to what kids of his age are doing in his old school (he joined AISB two years ago). Here is just an example: his old colleagues now have to learn pages and pages of history facts from a textbook, while Mircea and the other 8th graders in our school each research about a world religion of their choice and prepare a presentation for classmates; it is incredible how much I learned  from his explanations about Buddhism and Rastafarianism during our long rides to and from school. Mircea does not know yet what he wants to do after High School, and I believe it’s ok; he enjoys coming to school and to me this is the most important thing.

WM: What will you be doing for the summer holiday and why? Are you doing anything special?

CC: I am looking forward to having my eldest son home for the summer holiday. There are still wonderful places in Romania that we did not get to visit together yet. This summer we plan to hike in Ceahlau, a mountain area that I visited before being a mom. We still have to add a few details to our treehouse thatwe started building a few years ago in a village near Sinaia where my extended family has a house, so we will spend some time there, too. And we will definitely camp for a few days somewhere on the beach of the Black Sea. I don’t remember ever writing so many sentences starting with “I”. My modesty is heavily challenged.

Read the entire WORLD Magazine Summer 2015 edtion here. 


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