Values of leadership and responsibility are paramount at Colegio Marymount. Indeed, the Colombian school is so confident in its ability to instil these principles in its pupils that each year it trusts them to take over the school for an entire day. This school for girls was founded in Bogotá in 1948 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM) – a worldwide network of schools that aims to educate young men and women to play a greater role in society. Colegio Marymount closed in 1968 when the nuns left the country due to the political situation. But the following year, a group of parents decided to reopen it.
“They had all the spirit and the vision from the RSHM ‘printed’ in their girls and they continued to work hard to retain a Catholic Colombian school for their daughters,” says María Ángela Torres, the school’s Principal. The nuns’ original objective remains, but with a strong Colombian identity.
Today, Colegio Marymount has just over 1,000 pupils, ranging in age from four to 18. There is a real sense that the school is developing future leaders, and the girls are given tangible opportunities to practise the skills needed to play a valuable role in society.
Most notable of these is the annual Government Day, where all but a skeleton staff stay away from school for the day and the older girls take charge, teaching lessons and making administrative decisions. María Ángela acknowledges that the idea sounds risky, but says the school has now held six Government Days, all of which have produced important achievements. Indeed, the girls thrive on the experience. “It gives them a sense of belonging to the school and having empathy with the work of others,” she says. “It brings them into a closer community where we respect each other.”
A global community
The school also encourages pupils to think about their role in the wider community – not just in Colombia but on a global stage as well. Colegio Marymount has strong links with its sister schools around the world, including those in Paris and London. Inter-school activities, such as the RSHM Sports Festival – in which the Bogotá school usually excels – help foster an international perspective.
Lessons at Colegio Marymount are taught in Spanish and English and, in 2012, the school introduced Portuguese as a third language. The school offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and the majority of pupils earn an IB Diploma when they graduate.
María Ángela is proud of her pupils’ academic achievements but she is equally proud of their spiritual and social progress. “Social service is included as part of the day-to-day curriculum from a young age,” she says. “It is important to achieve a balance between academic and personal development.”
Balance is also key when it comes to maintaining traditional values while planning for the future. This is illustrated in an ambitious, ongoing infrastructure planning programme, which involves developing modern facilities that will inspire learning for generations to come without compromising the atmosphere of the school’s original buildings and leafy campus.
Throughout its history, Colegio Marymount has remained true to the vision that inspired its founders. Over the years it has developed these values to create a vibrant school environment where pupils don’t just learn the theory of principles like leadership and service, but are given unique opportunities to put them into practice.