We talked remotely to the friendly and youthful English teacher of Jonas Jablonskis Gymnasium Saulius Skučas. Saulius is a special teacher who learns 6 foreign languages and is interested in different cultures. It is the teacher who will always fight for innovation in schools and take into account the opinions of the students.
How were you at school, maybe as a teenager you dreamed of a different profession?
I loved studying at school, it was really fun. Perhaps this was due to the fact that there was not so much information readily available at the click of a button? In fact, I always wanted to be a teacher, from the first grade - I liked the school, so I stayed working in this field.
What is your path to teaching?
I dare say that the road was straight and quite simple - I got my first job before I finished school, in the twelfth grade. Because there was a great shortage of English teachers at the time, and I was just getting ready to study the subject, I was invited to stay in school. For starters - just a couple of lessons a week, but after a few months I had to get more involved in this activity. I worked as a teacher throughout the study period, combining studies at university with work at school.
How has Jonas Jablonskis Gymnasium changed while you were working here as a teacher?
Over the past few years, the school has changed beyond recognition - not just repairs, glass doors and renovated spaces, but the school’s philosophy itself has changed. Today, eight graduates are welcome at the school, who have to decide in which class - English, German, creative industries, entrepreneurship, international baccalaureate, academic - they want to study. The gymnasium provides conditions for each student to achieve the best results according to their hobbies, abilities and future plans.
You have worked at Jablonskis Gymnasium before, but then left elsewhere. What led to the decision to return?
The return to Jablonskis Gymnasium was prompted by the fact that from 2018. In 2020, the gymnasium took serious efforts to achieve international recognition and became involved in bilingual education, and later in the activities of the International Baccalaureate. we became a full-fledged, accredited International Baccalaureate School. This activity, although difficult and time-consuming and effortless, turned out to be interesting to me and it led to a return.
What innovations make Jonas Jablonskis Gymnasium exceptional?
Undoubtedly, bilingual education is probably one of the innovations that sets Jablonskis Gymnasium apart from others. Far from every gymnasium can boast of that. Also, as I mentioned, different classes allow children to learn according to their hobbies, which also sets this gymnasium apart from others. One of the more interesting differences is the German studies class, where both children who have never learned German and those who continue it can study (because separate groups are formed). In today’s world, where a really large percentage of people are fluent in English, knowing another language well is a huge advantage. Just look at the job advertisements for the difference between the salary offered for German-speaking employees - you'll be amazed!
Why is it worth learning for a modern child here?
I would say that the main reason why it is worth studying in this gymnasium is a quiet, tolerant, science- and future-oriented environment that allows everyone to achieve their own goals: whether you are talented in languages, the arts or the natural sciences - everyone here can find what you are interested in, what “carries” and what can become the direction of your life, be it medicine, architecture, physics or zoology. The gymnasium employs an excellent, knowledgeable team of teachers led by an excellent principal. I think all of these reasons make learning here really worthwhile.
Jablonskis Gymnasium has a class in German studies, which is a novelty in Lithuanian schools. What is the future of this class and what is your experience working with the German class?
The uniqueness of the German studies class is that students have the opportunity to learn German seriously while studying in a public school and in general education - they have a higher number of German lessons per week. Also, students of the German studies class participate in project activities with German schools, play in German theater, have the opportunity to attend a German language group. In other words, their activities focus on learning and using the German language in their daily activities. After graduating from our gymnasium, students in the German class will speak German well, and will have the opportunity to take advantage of various programs, scholarships, and projects for German-speaking people, such as study opportunities in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland. Not to mention, of course, the possibility of free travel throughout Central and Western Europe. By the way, German is the most popular language in Europe, ie more people on our continent speak German as their mother tongue than other languages.
Working in a German class, we learn by analyzing and comparing English phenomena with German - since I also speak German, it is not difficult for me to do so. And it becomes a little easier for students (hopefully) to understand the similarities and differences between the Germanic languages - English and German.
What is one of the most fun memories of working as a teacher?
The funniest memories are always related to trips with students. I hope that when the quarantine period ends, we will continue our travels!
What are your biggest challenges as a teacher?
The biggest test is to force students to correct their work…
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
I think, in Jonas Jablonskis gymnasium!
The English language teacher was interviewed by Milda Gadliauskaitė, a student of the 2nd gymnasium class