"My aim", says Małgorzata Kulesza, "is to generate passion and creativity in my students, and to enable them to grow so they can take care of themselves".
Passion and creativity can't be summoned from thin air, however, which is why Małgorzata Kulesza is a firm believer in leading by example. "To develop my pupils, I have to start by developing myself". She takes part in various European and international programmes designed to develop her as a teacher, and to broaden her horizons, so that she can bring new ideas to school.
A window on the world
This chemistry teacher of over 30 years' experience has re-imagined her Krakow high-school classroom, not as a sterile box where pupils go to acquire the knowledge needed to pass exams, but as a window onto the rapidly-changing 21st-century world.
"Technology is great," she enthuses as she describes the range of scientists her students have been able to speak to via SkypeClassroom. They had a lesson in polar research from Polish and Norwegian experts and a virtual trip to South Africa to learn about the conservation of seabirds. Japanese scientists have talked to them about disaster prevention and coping with earthquakes and tsunamis. And for World Oceans Day, they skyped Wise Oceans to discover more about coral reefs. "They are being taught by the best teachers from all over the world," she explains.
Małgorzata Kulesza says that she is very proud to be a source of inspiration, "not only for students, but also for teachers in my school, and more widely in Poland and in Europe".
She has developed several projects with European partners since 2002, including the Lifelong Learning Programme, Erasmus+, and Scholarship and Training Funds. This cooperation inspired various activities, enabling students and teachers to have direct contact with their counterparts abroad, allowing them to develop in unexpected ways.
If, as Małgorzata Kulesza believes "seeing is knowing", the process does not end there. The purpose of opening the classroom up to the world is to give pupils a concrete idea of the vast range of scientific careers available. "We are preparing them to live their lives" she says.
It is this approach, which is at once idealistic and deeply pragmatic, which secured Małgorzata Kulesza her nomination as a #Europeanhero from Scientix. Much of her work has been commended by the Polish Ministry of Education, the National Agency for Erasumus+, and the European Commission.
If you know someone who, like her, does an ordinary job that transforms lives in Europe, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org