A new school in Split is set to open its doors this year and it’s already enrolling students for the 2021/2022 school year. You might wonder why we are bringing this piece of news to you considering our main topic of interest is Split’s IT community, both from a local and international perspective? Well, this isn’t just your ordinary everyday school, so keep reading to find out more about it.
Split International School is first and foremost what its name says: international. Admission is open for both local and foreign students living in Split and all courses will be taught in English. The school’s curriculum is focused on primary and secondary education and it’s recognized internationally.
The classes will follow a globally recognized and well-respected curricular framework of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program which will be taught using Harkness teaching methodology – a discussion-based and student-driven teaching method that improves learning outcomes. In addition to the IB Program, the school will also offer FIRST Robotics program. FIRST Robotics is a global robotics community preparing young people for the future by developing both technological skills and well-rounded life capabilities.
I invite you to look into the school’s program in more detail via their website. In my honest opinion, the program seems very interesting and planned out well, with dedicated teachers who will make sure that every student realizes his or her full potential. I’m actually quite jealous that I’m an adult and can’t be enrolled at the school myself.
The school will have small class sizes and be oriented towards hands-on learning because at Split International School there is a firm belief that every student should receive personalized attention and that students learn best by doing. While the program will be taught in English, the school offers additional language support for non-native English speakers to be able to follow the program. So there is no reason to worry that your child will fall behind – Split International School is fully focused on the welfare of its students. When it comes to languages, in addition to above mentioned language support, students will also be able to learn Croatian and other foreign languages at Split International School.
Because happy students are key, the school also focuses on the whole family in terms of offering relocation support and flexible tuition options. You also don’t have to worry about finding extracurricular activities for your child because Split International School offers those activities as well so that your child can explore any interests outside of the school’s curriculum.
Since the school is international and its curriculum is taught in English, besides the locals who are interested in offering their children a different type of education, enrolling your child in Split International School might be interesting to you if you are a digital nomad traveling with your child, or if you are a professional often on the move and you wish to provide your child with an education program that can at any time be continued in some other place in the world your work might lead you to. The IB program is offered in over 150 countries, so it allows transfer flexibility for students while maintaining the continuity of their education.
This program can also be of interest to international parents considering moving to Split, or Croatians who are considering returning with their family from abroad. It’s tailored to offer language support and an internationally recognized educational program in addition to tailoring the enrollment period to your needs – whether it’s a semester, a quarter, or a full year or more.
I spoke with John, one of the school’s founders, and asked him to give me a little bit more insight into the idea of the school, what drove him and his co-founder Filip to bring this project to fruition, and how they imagine Split International School in the future.
Why start a school in Split and not somewhere else? What is so special about Split?
“Split and the surrounding areas have always been a part of my life, as I used to visit yearly with my family. My father left Croatia to relocate to New York decades ago, but I’ve always maintained strong ties to my extended family and friends here.
As for founding the school in Split, it just makes sense. Split is the largest city in Dalmatia, and over the last decade has really begun to transform into a global city, rather than just a tourist destination.
Foreigners are realizing that the Dalmatian lifestyle, climate, and culture are exceptional, and are looking to relocate here permanently – we want to do what we can to make that transition easier for their families.
The need is already here in Split, and someone would have eventually founded an international school here, so it might as well be us, and it might as well be now.”
What compelled you to start a school with the IB curriculum? What was the idea behind it?
“The International Bachelorette (IB) program is exceptional. Students are challenged in ways typically not seen before the university level. The program is academically rigorous, but beyond the content, students are encouraged to think with a global mindset, they are pushed to work collaboratively with their peers, and really learn to think critically and interdisciplinarily in a way reminiscent of how the real world works.
I had the pleasure of experiencing the IB program first hand as an IB teacher at a private international school in California, and I can honestly say that the IB curriculum is wonderful for both students and teachers alike.”
What are your feelings now that your idea is finally being realized?
“To be honest, mostly excited, and also a little bit stressed.
Founding a school is like founding a start-up in a lot of ways: fast-paced, challenging, and demanding.
At the same time, our founding families have a personal interest in the program succeeding as they are relying on our success for their own children.
We can’t pivot, rebrand, delay, or restructure like most start-ups can. Failure is not an option. This really motivates us to overcome challenges and push forward to ensure we can open our doors in time for the 2021/2022 academic year.”
How do you imagine the future of Split International School?
“Looking 5 to 10 years down the road, I see a beautiful international school campus in the nearby foothills overlooking the city of Split, the islands, and the sea.
I see students from different countries and continents, as well as local students from Split, not only working together academically, but socializing, playing sports, and laughing together.
Our goal is to build a sustainable school that can serve the Split area and acts as a bridge to the broader international community.”
What were some struggles you’ve faced on this journey of bringing a school to life and how did you resolve them?
“There have been many small bumps in the road, and a couple of unexpected roadblocks that made us take a different route, but overall we’ve managed to resolve these challenges and push forward on our project.
We’re aware that we’ll have many future hurdles to overcome, but I’m hopeful that we will continue to push forward to bring this project to fruition with the hard work of our team, our advisory board, and the help of the many different professionals and organizations that have worked with us along the way.
One of the best ways to deal with expected challenges is to stay calm, keep a positive attitude, and proactively look for solutions.
I learned the importance of this approach from the senior director of my previous school, and I try to emulate her example every time I am faced with a new surprise.”
Whenever there’s a process this long, there are always interesting things that happen. So what I’d like to know is this: was there something funny that happened during the process of bringing this school from an idea inside your head to actual students in the classrooms?
“The funniest story for me has to be how I met our first co-founding family. They were visiting Brač and having some unexpected engine trouble with their small sailboat, which was leaking and taking on water. They were asking around for help and came across me sitting with a few friends at the local dive center.
I grabbed some tools and a small bilge pump and headed off to help them sort out their boat troubles. We finally made some progress and things were going well, and then it started raining. Like completely pouring. For a few minutes, it felt like the boat was filling as fast as we could empty it.
And I’m sitting there, in the rain, covered in motor oil, soaking wet, helping these complete strangers pump water out of their boat with this tiny little pump, and I just start laughing at how ridiculous my little good Samaritan escapade had turned out. We succeeded in our endeavor and exchanged information on WhatsApp. After a few coffees and a barbeque, we were working on founding a school together.”
Now that you’re so close to seeing students in front of you at your school, what advice would you give your past self regarding starting a school?
“Start sooner. We were in a unique situation in our project as we already had students in mind who needed an educational solution for this fall, but leaving just under a year to execute the entire endeavor was a pretty tight time frame.
We believe we are on track to hit our deadline, but it’s involved working some evenings and weekends at key times to push forward. It would have been more convenient to have had 18-24 months for the project.”
I’m very thankful for John’s insights into the “behind the scenes” of this school and I’m sure you also enjoyed getting a first-hand look at how this great story started. I wish John and his team success with this project and hope the view of the future of Split International School he shared with us will come to fruition.
Now that you got the idea of what the school and the people behind it are all about, feel free to contact them about the admissions process (firstname.lastname@example.org) and any other questions (email@example.com) you may have. They will gladly answer all your questions and welcome your child with open arms once the school year starts in the fall!