Today we are talking to Elmir Jugo, a physics and mathematics teacher at Bloom. Students know Mr. Jugo as a passionate and curious person, and they often play basketball or football with him on Thursdays. In this interview, Mr. Jugo talks about curiosity, lifelong learning, and receiving awards.
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Elmir Jugo, and I am a physicist. I have been at this school for a full four years now. I teach a range of subjects: in primary school, I teach physics; in secondary school for IGSCE Levels - which are the first two grades of high school - I teach mathematics, physics, and combined sciences; and for A-levels - which are the 3rd and 4th grades of high school - I teach physics and mathematics. That's a brief introduction about me.
By nature, I'm a curious type; a curious person who is also very competitive. I love engaging in sports - I used to be a professional football player for a long time. I enjoy cycling, being in nature, reading good books, and listening to good music...
What do you consider to be your purpose here at Bloom?
Well, the purpose of all teachers, generally speaking, is to make what they teach accessible to children. But for me, the biggest purpose of a teacher, or professor, is "lifelong learning."
What does that mean? It is generally about teaching children how to become better individuals, how to mature... And of course, all of this should be supported by what we teach them within our subjects. The most important thing is for children to leave school with the capability to face life - not just knowing a bunch of facts, but also being good people, cultured and sociable. "Lifelong learning" is, in my opinion, the primary and ultimate goal for every student.
My goal is also for children to develop an affinity for the subjects I teach, and more generally, to love school, not just feeling that it's a place they have to attend. We've all been like that; we didn't like certain subjects. But... Let's say mathematics is a highly abstract subject, physics is quite interesting, maybe even the most interesting subject - now I'm being a bit subjective, of course :)
I try to present to the children, in the best possible way, what physics actually represents. All you need is curiosity- Ask questions about the world around you: how does this computer work? Why is chlorophyll green in plants? What is the reason? There is a reason for everything. Literally everything can be explained, from the macro to the micro scale, for the very small particles.
That's the most important thing: to develop and awaken curiosity in children, to constantly question things, to desire to learn something new because we know that having perfect knowledge is impossible. Knowledge can only be built upon. It can never be perfect. Every day we learn something new, and we become richer with new experiences.
You are a very ambitious and passionate individual. Do you think it's important to instil this passion for learning in your students? Do you want to lead them by example?
Absolutely. After finishing the lessons, I often talk to them about how I reached a certain level - what I went through, what it took for me to get there. Through my examples, I try to explain to them how I worked, what I think is good, and what needs improvement.
I had a physics teacher who was... I can't say he was terrible, but he was very strict, and we had no support. We just received five problems and were told to "do the exercises." That's not the right approach for a teacher, and I absolutely want to correct that. I'm trying to be for these children what I wanted my teacher to be for me when I was young. Of course, I can't be perfect, far from it, but I'm trying to provide them with everything that I lacked. To give them knowledge so that they can become more complete individuals.
What have your students taught you?
I always say this, and I will always say it: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction," and it's really true. As much as I have taught my students, they have also taught me a lot.
I have been at Bloom for four years - that's not a short period of time, but it has gone by quickly. As much as I have given to this school, the school has given to me. I have become much richer because everything I did, I did under the school's guidance. I am not Elmir, some autonomous entity who operates apart from Bloom; I am part of a team.
I can say that I am very satisfied because I have supported one generation of students through high school. When I came here - this is a banal example - these students had no desire to learn physics or mathematics, especially mathematics. I spoke to them about this recently because I was curious: what would have happened if we hadn't had those first two years?
Would (student's name) have taken mathematics as an A-level? Which turned out to be very important now as we worked together and prepared for the ASTs. Was it a significant factor for her admission to Georgetown in Washington D.C.? Where would life have taken her? Maybe she wouldn't have even gone to America.
Of course, I am looking at everything from my perspective. When I talked to her, which was really fascinating, she said, "If you hadn't been here, I certainly wouldn't have chosen mathematics." It's not just about me being able to explain things well. We had a completely different relationship than what we would have had in any other school. At Bloom we are able to support each other if problems arise. For example, if today the children came to school in a bad mood; they could open up and say, "Hey, I'm in a bad mood today. Is there a possibility that we don't do this and do something else instead?" That student-teacher relationship, especially in high school, cannot be found anywhere else. It's a very, very important thing to me.
So, Bloom is different from other schools?
Absolutely, it is.
I have never taught in a standard school, and I have always said: my primary goal in life is not to be a teacher! Let's be clear, maybe in two or three years, I'll decide to pursue a PhD in America. I have been working as a private tutor for a long time, so I came relatively prepared for Bloom's teaching approach. I was never interested in teaching in standard schools, where you just bring your diary, sit down, teach, and call out questions one by one.
Here, I can spend much more time individually with the children and closely observe their approach to work. Not everyone is the same; we are not gifted in the same areas. Through observing the students, you can see their strengths and weaknesses. In this way, you can tailor an individual approach to each student so that they can master the material in the best possible time and manner.
Do you have a favorite memory from the past school year?
I have a very fond memory of the competition... Again, I'll say it, I'm competitive, and awards are important to me. It's not about first or third place, but as proof that you are actually good at what you do.
The image itself feels like it happened yesterday: the Municipal competition where we took five students. Usually, it's six, but because the competition is held in Bosnian, we were unable to have a full team due to language barriers. A complete team usually includes three students from the 8th grade and three students from the 9th grade. We had two from the 9th grade and three from the 8th grade.
When we finished all the tests, I talked to them about the situation as we waited for the results. They had done everything really well, but they were still unsure about what places they could win. I said, "Come on, it doesn't matter. What's important is that you are satisfied." And then: the moment we entered and the children saw the results, and the excitement in their eyes that they achieved what they did - that stayed with me.
So, among all the other schools, we had the first and second places (9th grade); and we had the first, fourth, and fifth places (8th grade), which is absolutely fascinating. As a school, we were 200 points ahead of everyone else in total. Other schools had six students each, while we had five. That is a reward.
Not everyone can be a winner. I live by that philosophy. For example, imagine students are running a race; one hundred students. Each of them should be congratulated for finishing the race. But a participant hasn't achieved the same success as the person who won first place and might have trained ten times more than they did. The first and last person cannot be put in the same category. Congratulations should be given to students for their dedication and effort, for doing what they did. But there must be some sort of ranking based on why this person is first, why this person is second, third, or similar, and why this person is last. That's my opinion.