Caterina Azzini, principal

Smiling International School was established in 1997 and, as its name suggests, has always been characterised by its desire to create a cheerful, enjoyable and enthusiastic learning environment for its pupils. Going to school presents challenges and requires responsibility from the student, but it should be a pleasure too.

In a world where international relations are more important than ever, I felt the need for an education which, as well as enabling pupils to master the Italian language, involved obtaining a high level of proficiency in the English language. A good knowledge of at least one other language is crucial too.

Equally important to me is an enhanced use of technology, which pervades all aspects of life: personal, social and work. A broad education is essential, so that students have a wide range of knowledge, giving them more options for their future.

From the very beginning, I made a conscious decision to anchor the educational programmes to our rich and fascinating Italian culture and heritage. The very first class was a group of twelve first grade pupils, studying the Italian curriculum in English. This has been the model of our school ever since. Clearly, Italian is used to study Italian Language and Italian literature, while the other subjects are taught in English. We have also included Spanish and Chinese and incorporated problem-solving skills within the curriculum.

The school has grown considerably over the past twenty years. We now have approximately five hundred pupils attending schools in two separate locations, here in Ferrara. We have achieved recognition for our success and our excellence from the Italian Education Ministry. It selected our school as one of the hundred institutions to pilot the four-year High School educational path, which is common to many other European countries.

However, we have no intention of resting on our laurels and we continue to set ourselves new goals, fostering innovation while maintaining our identity as a warm and friendly school. We aim to provide our pupils with a stimulating environment to awaken their curiosity and help them to grow in confidence. We want our students to be proud of their school, to be open-minded to the world and to be equipped with the necessary tools to embark upon any path.

There is nothing more satisfying to me than to know that Smiling International School has provided students with a strong foundation; to face the first challenges and hurdles of adulthood and to achieve success.

Our Porta Mare campus houses the nursery school, as well as first and second grade Primary classes. The third, fourth and fifth grade of Primary, Middle School and High School are all based in the beautifully renovated Palazzo Gulinelli, in Corso Ercole D’Este. In the gardens at Porta Mare, many of our pupils learn to ride a tricycle at the age of two. To witness some of them now driving themselves to school or parking their scooter at Corso Ercole D’Este is a privilege.

To see them grow, learn so much and to develop into young men and women is an honour. They are my driving force, my pride and my joy and it is my mission in life to help them achieve their ambitions and aspirations. I feel honoured to be the Principal of Smiling International School where I can count on a fantastic team of teaching and non-teaching staff. They all contribute to making the school what it is toda, thanks to their enthusiasm, professionalism and hard work.

Caterina Azzini

Principal