The miracle of Getashen

01 February, 2020
Our many programs are connected with the regions of Armenia, which gives us the opportunity to learn more about our Homeland and our people.

Speaking about regions and villages of Armenia, we seem to be mainly concerned with difficulties and programs aimed at overcoming them. Sometimes it seems that there are fewer achievements than problems. There is often a false idea that in regions and villages people do not have initiative, instead they wait, that someone would help them. Meanwhile, there are very inspiring stories, which can serve as an example for many.

For example, the story of the Getashen school, which we want to share with you today. This time we changed the way we present information. The article was written by members of the My Step foundation team. Every time after returning from a working visit, our employees were so inspired with Getashen school that we decided to tell you about it.

The miracle of Getashen

Imagine a school where children grow their own food. Here, each child has his/her own tree, which is passed to another student after the child's graduation. The latter assumes further responsibility for taking care of the tree. Each tree has its own passport with the name and surname of its caregiver.

Seeing this, we asked ourselves, are we the owners of the tree, or vice versa, the tree takes care of us, allowing to have our own tree on this planet?

In this school children live in an environment where they feel free to think, create and organize their daily lives. They are learning to be responsible not only for themselves but for the whole school. This freedom is expressed in every detail, from the floor painted by the children to the library where there is no librarian - children take books, read, and return them.

If you think that as a result the number of books decreases or the books are worn out, you're wrong. The number of books grows as children bring books from home and donate to their school library. A sense of ownership and responsibility is boosted when you allow a child to freely dispose their school resources, conveying the idea that you are responsible for what you have and should take care of it.

The children manage the fruits and vegetables grown by them. For example, some products are sold and children use the money for the needs of the school, some are consumed in the school cafeteria, and rest is canned for the winter. They know, for example, how to make dried fruit. There is a village grandmother's club in the school, where the grandmothers help the children learn different cooking skills.

Learning at school

As a result, in Getashen we have an eco-school where children study and at the same time are engaged in agriculture, taking care of their gardens and the greenhouse. Do they study other subjects in secondary school? Yes, and in a very effective way, as there are thematically furnished classrooms for each subject. Besides learning theory, students also practice their skills at physics, computer science, biology, chemistry, painting and art, geography and geology classrooms. 

Talking about the principle of freedom, we should note that at Getashen school they believe that it is not necessary for students always to be sitting in a classroom in front of a desk to learn effectively. If the weather permits, the children can have a lesson in the open-air classroom.

School as a community entertainment center

So, we have an educational establishment where kids build and run their school with a sense of ownership, do farming, get general education in thematically furnished classrooms. Do you think that’s all? Of course, not. The school also offers a variety of opportunities to develop through the extracurricular activities: dancing, singing, crafts, theater, beading, straw carving, tapestry, painting, sculpture and more. In fact, children spend most of their day at school and have a leisure room where they can play games, study lessons, hold meetings, cook lunch and even host teachers.

This miracle is not over yet. This school serves not only schoolchildren but the entire community. It has a grandparents' club where elderly residents of the village interact with children, teach them and learn from them. Grandmother's club members read fairy tales for children, cook and make dried fruits with them. Grandfathers teach the children ironwork, share their stories and life lessons. Is it difficult to create an environment where older and younger generations interact more actively? The Getashen examples shows that it is not difficult. Is it a common practice in other schools of Armenia? Unfortunately, it is not.

The school also organizes open-air classes, film screenings, concerts, celebrations and other various activities for the community.

Now let’s talk about the most important thing. How did all this happen?

In 2011 Gevorg Mukoyan became the head of the school. Someone who is not afraid to dream and pursue his dreams. He believes in a child's potential and creates opportunities to develop it.

Some questions come up unintentionally when you are at school.

Did the school principle inherited the school in this condition or had received large amount of money to make it the school it is today? The answer is ''no''.

All of this is the result of daily hard work of people who believe in their principles and just don't give up when building Armenia of their dreams. The school now has many partners, friends, and donors, each contributing to this miracle.

It’s needless to say, the principal's room is the most modest one in the school.

You can find more information about Getashen school by following their Facebook page.

Authored by Lilit Grigoryan, Anna Matevosyan, Grigor Piloyan

Edited by Meri Musinyan

01 February, 2020