Young people deserve our support, says the teacher Darina Vlaykova

Darina Vlaykova is a high school teacher at “Prof. Dr Asen Zlatarov” Language School in Haskovo and is our “Success Stories” interviewee today.

JA: Who am I and what does entrepreneurship mean to me?

My name is Darina Vlaykova and I am a teacher at the language high school “Prof. Dr Asen Zlatarov”, Haskovo, for 25 years already. Science 3 years I am teaching entrepreneurship, which is a great pleasure for me. Eight years ago, at our school, we initiated the establishment of the first entrepreneurship club. Since then, entrepreneurship is a cause for me. Cause, that makes me keep on building up my knowledge, to participate at trainings, offered by JA Bulgaria, to stimulate my students to participate at initiatives and competitions and to become more confident in themselves.

JA: For another year in a raw your students are participating at the JA international online competition Social Innovation Relay and this is an effort of your own accord and without any specific circumstances requiring an online mode of work – why? In your opinion, how does the format of SIR support the development of students’ skills?

SIR is a challenge for us for a second year, already. In the previous year, only one team of our school has participated but managed to reach the national final. This year, two teams managed to reach the Top 20 and one of them - Team Flawless, was chosen for the Top 10 rank list and later on - won the competition. The format of the competition engages the students and offers them opportunities to build up knowledge and skills for the application of a social business model canvas and work with presentations. This requires digital and analytical skills, synthesis and presentation skills. Success indicators are the soft skills of the participants, as well - teamwork, time management and effective communication. We all are aware of the hard times, which led us out of our traditional environment of communication and made the interaction with the students a bit different. Now I recall all the efforts and the whole endure – the evening conversations when we were discussing the presentation of the team. I recall the virtual classroom, which was overheated by questions and answers and all the moments when the JA Bulgaria team was assisting us unreservedly. And when we got to the moment when the finalists were announced and we heard, “The winning team is Team Flawless!” we eventually realized how every step, every conversation with the team, with the mentors, with the organizers, was a way of growth and it was worth it!

JA: What is your secret to working successfully with students? Who inspires who - you the students or vise versa?

Persistence is the first thing. Going back in the years, I think of the enthusiasm with which we began our work in our clubs. For the pleasant feeling of something new and meaningful, that would serve young people as a long-term skill. Then came knowledge that was inexhaustible. The dynamic of new opportunities, digital resources and everything that entrepreneurship has to do with, has given my students a fresh feeling. The feeling that they know more, that they can more, that they can find social solutions. If persistence was the basis, then initiative was the next step that put this system of knowledge and skills in motion and made the students participate in competitions, to measure their success and to generate new social ideas. And last but not least - the inspiration. I believe that the inspiration for new challenges and the desire to succeed is a two-way process that needs a lot of effort.

JA: What according to you is the input of mentors in the educational process?

Their role is priceless. Teams always believe that their idea is the best. Teachers want the idea to be the best and mentors find the small holes that only professionals like them manage to spot. Ms Gornishka from NN Bulgaria was the mentor of the winning team and supported Christian and Veselin, pointing them to a problem that we had not discussed. Thank you for your professional approach and good attitude!

JA: What would be your advice to the students and teachers who will be participating in the race for the first time?

Not to be afraid to participate. Each thing has its own beginning. The experience to be part of this incredible competition is an experience that will serve you in the future. And to all colleagues, who work with young entrepreneurs, I would like to wish that we continue to inspire our students for new challenges, because young people need it and deserve support!

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