The 2023 Headmasters of the Year Awards Gala: four school headmasters awarded for exceptional results

  • More than 200 primary, middle and high school and kindergarten headmasters all over the country applied for this year’s edition of the Awards for the Headmasters of the Year

  • 73 business leaders, education specialists and representatives of the authorities were involved in the judging process

  • On the Romanian Athene stage 4 school headmasters stepped to be awarded for the Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Equal opportunities and 2023 Headmaster of the Year categories

  • Raluca Mariana Cozma from “Ion Ghica” Middle School in Iași, designated the 2023 Headmaster of the Year, raised funds amounting to 507,000 Euro in the 2022 – 2023 academic year

Bucharest, October 10, 2023. The 2023 Headmasters of the Year Awards Gala, organised by AVE for the seventh consecutive year, designated its winners last night, at the Romanian Athene. As such, four school headmasters in Romania, who transformed the students’ lives, but also the schools they manage, were awarded for the projects they involved themselves with during the 2022 – 2023 academic year. Raluca Mariana Cozma from “Ion Ghica” Middle School in Iași was designated the 2023 Headmaster of the Year. More than 200 headmasters from all the nation’s counties applied this year for one of the four award categories: Innovation, Equal opportunities, Entrepreneurship, as well as the grand award, the 2023 Headmaster of the Year.

“Each edition of The Headmasters of the Year Awards Gala demonstrates to us that there are in Romania leadership and entrepreneurship models that manage to transform education. Each winning headmaster is a source of inspiration for the entire school community, regardless of the issue they undertook to address. Whether they deal the school leaving phenomenon or focus on boosting the national exam pass rates, these headmasters need both our and the society’s recognition and support and encouragement”, said Silvia Toth, AVE Educational Programmes Manager.

The Romanian Athene stage was climbed by headmasters whose success stories have a real impact within the transformation of the schools they manage and can examples to follow. The Entrepreneurship category award went to Diana Brătucu from “Traian” Middle School in Craiova (Dolj county), the Innovation award was won by Vasile Benedek from “Ioan Ossian” High School in Șimleu Silvaniei (Sălaj county), whereas the one for Equal opportunities went to Rosemarie Delia Cocoană from Eșelnița Middle School (Mehedinți county). The winners were selected by means of a thorough process that involved more than 70 business leaders and education experts. “Each of us contributes to the future of our children, whether or not they are aware of it, which is why it is crucial to act together under a coordinated effort. AVE’s mission is to bring alongside relevant players for the education field and we are grateful for having more than 100 partner NGOs and more than 1,000 business leaders getting involved. The Headmasters of the Year Awards Gala aims to surround these exceptional leaders with the business community, the non-profit sector and the state institutions since only together will we manage to take education in Romania to the next level”, said Andreea Nistor, AVE Managing Director

Raluca Mariana Cozma, the 2023 Headmaster of the Year, drew in for the school funds in excess of 787,000 Euro over the course of four years in office

For the 2023 edition, the “Headmaster of the Year” title was assigned to Raluca Mariana Cozma from “Ion Ghica” Middle School in Iași. She was awarded for the involvement and achievements she displayed, such the renovation and rehabilitation of the entire school, but also of spaces outside it. Moreover, since 2019, when she was appointed to the headmaster position, to date she has raised funds in excess of 787,000 Euro for the projects carried out at school.

To help diminish low school attendance and increase academic results, headmaster Raluca Mariana Cozma has strengthened the relationship with the parents and the local community, so that the latter should get more involved in the school’s life. And, to allow the students and the teachers to carry out their activities with optimum results, she had the school fitted with laptops and video-projectors amounting to approximately 30,000 Euro. Thus, through her projects and involvement, she managed to lower school leaving from 1.7% to 0.03% and boosted 8th grade graduation exam pass rates to 94% in 2023 from 78% in 2021.

For the 2022 – 2027 period, she obtained Erasmus+ accreditations amounting to more than 200,000 Euro, and 36 teachers and 62 students will take part in experience exchanges in schools abroad. Among other successes is also accessing the “Școala în siguranță” (Safe School) project, amounting to approximately 132,000 Euro, and the “Hai afară la-nvățare!” (Let’s go learn outside!), amounting to approximately 100,000 Euro, which aims to tackle teaching in class in a creative manner, using non-formal education.

Raluca Mariana Cozma introduced optional Financial education, Legal education and Drama classes in order to draw in and keep students at school. Together with UNICEF Romania, she implemented a project amounting to 29,000 Euro that allowed the school to become a learning hub for Ukrainian children in Iași.

The video coverage with the story of the 2023 Headmaster of the Year can be watched here.

Diana Brătucu, the 2023 Headmaster of the Year for Entrepreneurship: 90% of the classrooms in the school are fitted with digital materials

The “Headmaster of the Year for Entrepreneurship” award was won by Diana Brătucu, the Headmaster of “Traian” Middle School in Craiova. By means of an investment in excess of 450,000 Euro, 90% of the classrooms were fitted with digital equipment. The school was added to the list of pilot units exclusively employing the electronic class register, which led to an improved communication with the parents and decreased truancy levels. Furthermore, the school received the Erasmus+ accreditation for a 4-year period, and 38 teachers and 100 students will take part in training courses in European schools and institutions.

The students are, in their turn, involved in the development of the school and, at their initiative, a sports pitch with synthetic turf was built, and they actively contributed by raising the funds necessary for its construction. The students are involved in entrepreneurial and environmental initiatives, more than 50% of them are already disposing selectively following the fitting of recycling areas.

The video coverage with the story of the 2023 Headmaster of the Year for Entrepreneurship can be watched here.

Rosemarie Delia Cocoană, the 2023 Headmaster of the Year for Equal opportunities: the headmaster who changes mentalities

The “Headmaster of the Year for Equal Opportunities” award was granted to the headmaster of Eșelnița Middle School, Rosemarie Delia Cocoană, who carried out initiatives with major impact for the students in the Romani community and from disadvantaged families, which account for 70% of the school’s collective. There was a 25% decrease in the number of students with subject failures and grade repetition and a 20% increase in the number of students achieving good academic results and coming from disadvantaged families, and she hired a school mediator from the Romani community, who helps the school in its efforts to contain school dropout. Additionally, she implemented “The Second Chance” project, which allowed 70 parents of students from the Romani community to be integrated so as to manage to complete a four- or eight-year school cycle. Rosemarie Delia Cocoană built upon the idea that all students are equal and have the same chances for education, the teachers being those that have to help and mould them.

The video coverage with the story of the 2023 Headmaster of the Year for Equal opportunities can be watched here.

Vasile Benedek, the 2023 Headmaster of the Year for Innovation: 500,000 Euro in funds raised through NRRP to modernise the school

The “Headmaster of the Year for Innovation” award was received by the headmaster of “Ioan Ossian” Technological High School from Șimleu Silvaniei, Vasile Benedek. He carried out European, national and local projects so that the students at school should be in touch with the latest technologies in the specialisations in which they train, but also to upgrade the school. As part of a project submitted under NRRP (National Resilience and Recovery Program), in June 2023 he brought in for the school investments amounting to 500,000 Euro. He implemented Agriculture 4.0 by purchasing an agricultural drone, providing free-of-charge expert advice to students at school and set up public catering and agriculture laboratories and renovated the horticulture and viticulture laboratory.

Headmaster Vasile Benedek saved the school from the danger of being decommissioned and increased the number of students from 220 to more than 400 within less than 3 years. On top of that, he increased the number of classes and introduced new specialisations: he reestablished the Hungarian department for the veterinary technician speciality and set up the plant protection technician speciality. Students have access to state-of-the-art technology and can practice in an educational farm with modern standards.

The video coverage with the story of the 2023 Headmaster of the Year for Innovation can be watched here.

Awards in excess of 14,000 Euro for the winning headmasters 

The winning school headmasters are further supported in the process of transforming the school units they manage. As such, each of them will receive a prize amounting to 3,500 Euro, but also a spot in The Programme for the Transformation of Schools in Romania, launched this autumn by AVE. Moreover, aided by partners Adservio and Kinderpedia, they will be able to continue the schools’ digitalisation process by choosing one of the two online platforms that will secure for them an electronic class register and vouchers for the first year of use.

The Headmasters of the Year Awards Gala has reached its seventh edition, and this event already deemed a tradition is intended to provide support and recognition to school headmasters, but also to create an environment where education is appreciated and capitalised upon, inspiring and mobilising the entire community and leaders from various sectors to get involved in transforming education.

This year, the following have been AVE’s partners for The Headmasters of the Year Awards Gala: Apa Nova, BCR Asigurări de Viață, BDO România, Deloitte, Domeniile Averești, Edenred, Garanti BBVA Leasing, Pentalog and Up România. The media partners which supported the seventh edition of The Headmasters of the Year Awards Gala are: PRO TV, BIZ Magazine, Cariere Magazine, SpotMedia and CSR Media.

About AVE (The Association for Values in Education)

The Association for Values in Education (AVE) is a non-profit organisation whose main goal is to bring the educational system in Romania to Europe’s top 10 by 2035. AVE wishes to transform the educational system in Romania into one that promotes respect, honesty, team spirit and responsibility. You can stay in touch with AVE’s endeavours by following the LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram pages.