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 ever more important, I felt the need for an education process which, as well as enabling pupils to master the Italian language, involved obtaining a high level of proficiency in the English language and a good knowledge of at least one other language.

Equally important to me was an enhanced use of technology which was pervading all walks of life–personal, social and the work sphere – and a cultural formation which enabled the children to make constructive and informed choices regarding their present and their future. A broad education is essential, the framework of which needs to be provided during school life, when absorbing information is perhaps easier and expanding one’s knowledge is a primary focus.

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, and 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, Chinese, Information Technology among others 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 of our success and our excellence from the Italian Education Ministry that 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 which aims to provide its pupils with a stimulating environment to awaken their curiosity and help them to grow more confident. We want our students to be proud of their school, to be open minded to the world outside and to be equipped with the necessary tools to embark upon any path. Many of our former pupils are beginning to enter, or have already entered, the working world and there is nothing more satisfying to me than to know that Smiling School has provided them with a strong foundation with which 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, whilst third, fourth and fifth grade 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 and so to witness some of them now driving themselves to school or parking their scooter at Corso Ercole D’Este highlights to me the time we have spent together. What a strong emotion is invoked in me to see them grow, learn so much and to develop into young men and women. 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, who have contributed to making the school what it is today thanks to their enthusiasm, professionalism and hard work.

Caterina Azzini