On Tuesday, Rita Prokopenko, Nata and her brother Giorgi, and a teacher named Cristy took me first to School Number 11 in Rustavi, a town southeast of Tblisi packed with Soviet style high rise buildings. Huge apartment complexes. School 11 was described as one of the better academic schools in Georgia. The principal's name is Giorgi Shkiles (not sure about last name). We were greeted by two female teachers wearing huge fur coats. The picture in front of school #11 shows Cristy, also wearing a huge fur coat. In fact, everyone I saw in the building was wearing a coat. It was cool in the building and after we sat conversing for about an hour and a half, I was cold. This was nothing to what I would experience next.
#11 is a K-12 school of about 556 students who walk to the school from this neighborhood. This is a pattern all over Georgia--to have schools located so that students can walk to them. I am told there are 2400 schools in the country. #11 has about 153 high school students, 207 middle school students, and 196 primary students. There were 43 teachers. The high school curriculum consists of history, Georgian, math, Russian or English, Geography, Physics/Chemistry/ Biology, Art, and Public Education (means law and government). I think they also have a computer class but this was not mentioned. It opened in 1952. It has not been cared for in terms of maintenance the way a school in Lincoln might be. (or might not be). Wood floors upon entrance hadn't been sanded or sealed in a long time. Paint chipping on the walls in some places. But the principal's office was very nice.
In it was a large oil painting of a romantic Georgian classic couple--a cossack soldier and a lovely maiden in what I imagined to be a tearful and heartrending departure scene. He has a shelf full of dimmuitve icons and religious images. It was clean, nicely neat. Several working telephone and a cell phone and computer. And a heater.
Gio as he wanted to be called had been a principal for five years. He had been a teacher of history in the school and then when the new reforms took over, he ran for the principalship against two others who were outsiders. He won, I suspect very handily as he was a very personal and charismatic individual, clearly liked by the teachers that joined us.
I learned quite a bit from this conversation that will show up elsewhere. It is a good school with high numbers graduating at a level 3 success rate and many going on to the university.