Filomena Martins is the Dual Diploma Program Director at Escola Internacional de Torres Vedras in Lisbon, Portugal.
She told us about how this project has widened the school international portfolio; she has also shared with us how Dual Diploma is a great opportunity for those students who are willing to embrace even more demanding challenges.
When have you started coordinating Dual Diploma at your school and which kind of tasks do you undertake to lead this project?
Last school year, Escola Internacional de Torres Vedras, accepted the challenge Academica International Studies had offered. Eduardo Castro, our director, is always searching for new challenges that may contribute to giving our students the best education towards excellence. In an increasingly competitive society, educators must provide our students with the tools to thrive in university and the marketplace. Therefore, I grabbed this opportunity with all my heart and energy. I started the previous school year with a group of 18 students. Right in the middle of the pandemic chaos throughout the world, the Dual Diploma program was a light showing that there would be a future. One of my tasks is to help my students keep on track and give them the confidence to ask for help to their teacher in the USA. I sometimes have to remind them of the due dates regarding assignments and live sessions. Moreover, I check weekly results and advise them to repeat an assignment. This might happen if the student’s score is less than a 70%. Students can open the assignment correct any mistakes, and resubmit their work. Every school year in September, the new students have to do an admission test to check their knowledge as far as English is concerned. I have to organize this as well, together with Academica’s team. I have also taken part in meetings to present this program to new families and students.
Do you believe this experience allows students to live a true international experience?
Yes, I do. When students have their live sessions, they have the opportunity to be with students from different countries which implies different viewpoints, different backgrounds, and even different accents. Moreover, the curricula itself is focused on the United States giving them a deep knowledge of a completely different culture. Critical thinking is also developed through the program.
Which changes have you witnessed in the students who have embraced this Program?
My students had to learn how to manage time so that they could meet all deadlines. They have improved their IT skills, communication skills, both oral and written, and intercultural competence. In addition, they improve their self-esteem. The students become more confident in their capacities and more eager to improve them.
Would you recommend the Dual Diploma for those families and students who are looking for an upgrade in their English level?
Yes, I would. However, students should have a language level that enables the acquisition of new skills. Moreover, an open mind to learning in general and to learning a second language, in particular, is required.
And lastly, which has been your greatest joy whilst coordinating the Dual Diploma students at your school?
It’s wonderful to witness the students’ growth, both as students and human beings and to know that somehow you have participated in that process. I would say that this Program is meant for students who are not afraid of challenges and overcome any difficulty or challenge. I enjoy participating in the webinars for teachers which are a way of acquiring new tools, further knowledge and to become more aware of the learning environment of this program. The Dual Program Directors also have the opportunity of sharing their experience with each other.