23 July 2024

International School of Piraeus: The Valsamidou family continues a 100-year tradition in Education.

Author : Pamela Lytra

photos: Ioanna Morphinou

Source: Noupou.GR

We visited the renowned International School of Piraeus and gained insight into the educational philosophy of a school with a century-long tradition.

The International School of Piraeus has a family history and a tradition that has evolved over the years to adapt to the needs of modern children. One could say it started as an educational fairy tale…

Once upon a time, most specifically in 1922, teacher Marika Petraki Valsamidou founded a school, and making her dream a reality. Things were not easy, especially for that time, but her husband – who had his own glass business – was so supportive that he helped her achieve her goals. What were those goals?To impart knowledge, instill essential life skills, and equip them with a comprehensive education. The years passed, and Marika’s children, Niki and Giannis, also educators, took over the school. The work continued with the same zeal and even more love, bringing a more innovative approach to education. Thus, the dream “grew” and the school became a model for many children.

Today, 100 years later, the school has passed on to the grandchildren of Marika, a pioneer of her time. NouPou met with Ms. Konstantina Valsamidou, representative of the third generation owners of the International School of Piraeus, and talked to her about the 100-year tradition of the school, which serves as an inspiration for the evolution and modernization of its educational philosophy.

Who are the people behind the International School of Piraeus today? 

For 12 years, my sister,  Marika Valsamidou, my husband, Ioannis Dimitrellos, and I, having many years of teaching and administrative experience, fully took over the school and developed it based on what we believe is the “best” in education.Our journey began with engaging our students through observation and dialogue, but it was the influence of our own children, ranging from ages 5 to 20, that truly shaped our educational approach. This led to

Your school has a rich history spanning 100 years. How has education changed, for better or worse, during this time?

Many things have changed in education in recent years. From the way a school unit is shaped – classrooms and learning spaces – to the modernization of pedagogical methods by abolishing the use of the ruler as a means of education and teacher-centered teaching. Education has now become mandatory for all children, and child labor is now prohibited. The goals of education have diversified, aiming at both knowledge and skill development, while the educational system is gradually enriched with more undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs. The most characteristic of the era is that we have transitioned to digital teaching, utilizing technology and continuing the operation of schools during a pandemic, which would not have been possible in other times. Despite the changes, there are still many areas for improvement and evolution.

the transformation of our school from “M. Petraki Valsamidou Schools” to the “International School of Piraeus” (ISP), now certified by the IB. An additional innovative step was the introduction of a bilingual IB program.

How do you feel continuing the work of your grandparents and founders?

Over the years, we have cultivated a deep sense of pride and gratitude, as our workplace has been a nurturing environment since its inception. It is essential to find joy and creativity in one’s work, as it is a cornerstone of a fulfilling life. Our commitment to ongoing learning and collaboration enables us to overcome challenges as a team, fostering continuous growth and evolution.

When the educational innovations of ISP meet tradition

“Across three generations, our family embodies a shared passion for modernity, quality, exploration, and continuous improvement. The philosophy and values of the IB program resonate deeply with our personal ethos, emphasizing balance, research, knowledge, critical thinking, courage, communication, and teamwork. Our educational innovations encompass bilingual instruction (Greek-English), personalized differentiation to cater to individual student needs, and the integration of cutting-edge technologies for enhanced learning experiences. Furthermore, we have revitalized our school spaces to align with our educational philosophy and utilize instructional materials sourced from the UK and the US, ensuring adaptability to the specific educational requirements of each age group through collaborative efforts and thorough research.”

A venerable institution located in the southern suburbs, formerly known as Paschalis Schools, has undergone a significant transformation and now operates under the name International Metropolitan School (IMS). What remains unknown to the public about this rebranding? Since December 2021, ISP has assumed responsibility for the Nursery School and Kindergarten in Alimos, as well as the Elementary School in Argyroupoli, previously affiliated with Paschalis Schools. This transition has seen notable changes, culminating in the establishment of a bilingual IB school.

How many schools are there and what are their names?

We operate four schools: ISP, located in the heart of Piraeus, encompasses a Nursery School, Kindergarten, and Elementary School; IMS on Panio Hill in Alimos houses a Nursery School and Kindergarten; IMS in Argyroupoli functions as an Elementary School; and Sporty’s International School in Elliniko offers a Nursery School and Kindergarten. Additionally, since September 2022, our fifth school, the Gymnasium, has been established in Alimos.

A brief overview of ISP in Piraeus:

“Piraeus holds a special place in our hearts as a city we deeply cherish. Recognizing the potential of the expansive building in the city center, we embarked on a renovation project focusing on enhancing its strengths. By connecting various rooms, we created spacious and luminous environments. Leveraging the building’s size, we transformed numerous small and large courtyards by incorporating sensory materials such as light, sand, soil, and water. Artificial grass, trees, and flowers were introduced, while dedicated spaces like the STEM area, atelier, dark room, kitchen, and dining room were established. Our school boasts a library with a dedicated librarian at the core of the IB curriculum, continually enriched with new resources. Moreover, for the past nine years, students in the Early Years and 1st Grade have participated in Outdoor Classroom sessions once a week, engaging in learning activities in natural settings like forests or beaches. Our educators have undergone specialized training to facilitate these outdoor experiences and continually explore collaborative approaches within the natural environment.”

The Nursery School – Kindergarten Sporty’s International School in Elliniko The Nursery School-Kindergarten

Sporty’s International School is situated in Elliniko across a sprawling 5-acre expanse, featuring three buildings, playgrounds, gardens, the atelier, the piazza, a bike path, football, tennis, and basketball courts, and a heated saltwater pool specifically designed for the safety and enjoyment of young learners. Embracing its natural surroundings, the school capitalizes on Greece’s temperate climate by conducting classes outdoors even on mild winter days. Educators receive ongoing training to effectively integrate the natural environment into daily activities, fostering cognitive and emotional development in children. In the summer months, including August, the school hosts a summer camp for Nursery and Elementary students, while throughout the year, nature-themed parties and organized activities are offered to enrich the students’ experiences.

The International Metropolitan School (IMS) encompasses a Nursery School, Kindergarten, Elementary School, and Gymnasium.

Situated on Panio Hill in Alimos, IMS boasts abundant greenery and scenic views, housed in two separate buildings with expansive outdoor areas. The bilingual Greek-English Nursery School and Kindergarten at IMS offer a range of play-based learning activities. Additionally, the Elementary School of IMS is located in a modern, bright, and comfortable building in Argyroupoli.

The MYP Gymnasium of the International School of Piraeus and the International Metropolitan School are situated in a cutting-edge facility in Alimos. The Gymnasium features a bilingual program catering to both daily communication needs and academic requirements. The modern facilities, further enhanced in 2023, exude a sense of high aesthetics and cultural refinement, fostering a conducive environment for learning and promoting mental tranquility and clarity.

International School of Piraeus (ISP)
Praxitelous 66, Piraeus
210 4175580

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