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Designing a successful future

For a child to have a truly successful education, the arts should play a starring role.


Creative subjects such as dance, drama and music — along with visual arts such as painting - help students explore their emotions and express themselves. By engaging with the arts and having creative outlets, students have been found to be happier at school and better able to engage across other subjects.


At premium international schools group Nord Anglia Education, the performing arts are built into the core of each of its 61 schools. This is supplemented by a performing arts curriculum designed in collaboration with The Juilliard School of Performing Arts.

“The arts develop in our students a wide range of the qualities and attributes needed to flourish in the 21st century and beyond,” said Andy Puttock, Group Director of Education.

For Sasha Kiril Doytcheva, a Year 13 student at the British International School of Chicago, South Loop (BISC SL), the arts are a lifelong passion and future career.

The arts have always been a source of inspiration for me, Sasha explained.

“What first caught my interest while growing up were artists like Henri Matisse and his paper cut-outs or Sandro Botticelli's Birth of Venus painting,” she added. “Modern artists, such as Takashi Murakami, Hebru Brantley, Damien Hirst and Kehinde Wiley are my current favourites. Their work inspires me daily.”

Sasha spent several years working closely with her school's music program before shifting her focus to Art and Design and Technology (DT) classes.


“I saw many of my friends do incredibly well with their music path through NAE's Julliard curriculum. But I’ve always wanted to be in design,” she said.

Sasha recently drew attention within her school community for creating a range of “spirit-wear” items designed specifically for BISC SL. Her idea was to create a range of clothing featuring the Nord Anglia Education brand logo and Be Ambitious tagline.

“My idea was sparked by a desire to create comfortable clothing that could represent my school while also integrating everyday streetwear-style clothing,” she said.

Her spirit-wear designs are now available for students, parents and staff to purchase at the school store.

Sasha explained that, outside of school, her upbringing in Chicago — with its many art galleries, museums and diverse cultures — and her mother, who works as an architect, fostered her passion for art and design.


“My mother has shown me sketches of fashion designs I made at the age of four and even drawings of buildings,” she said. “She always advocated for carrying a sketchpad and to draw objects or scenes that interested me.”

It was also Sasha’s eight years at BISC SL that directly encouraged her to express herself creatively.

“During my IGCSEs I took Art and DT classes, which helped me build a great portfolio and learn great new skills,” she said. “In IB I took Higher-level DT, which was a great way to learn valuable aspects of product design and expand my portfolio further.”

The world-class teaching at BISC SL also made a huge impact.

“My teachers, including Mr. Edwards (Design Technology), Miss Cadman-Beaumont (English), and Mr. Johnson (Business) supported my interests and their incredible classes taught me valuable creative and business-oriented lessons,” she said.

Other skills were also nurtured during her time at a Nord Anglia school, such as confident public speaking, the desire to pursue excellence in all things, and the willpower to overcome obstacles.


“There were amazing experiences that I will never forget,” she added.

As a graduating senior, Sasha will be attending college at the renowned Parsons School of Design in New York City, which is where some of her own personal design idols went including Ai Wei Wei, Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs.

“Parsons has an incredible curriculum that really forms artists into ones that are both technically skilled yet true to themselves and their own vision,” she said.

With her own design work already gaining traction in her school community, Sasha’s future at university looks to be a bright one. Her career in the arts, which began with a passion that was then nurtured by her Nord Anglia school community, clearly illustrates that when schools embrace the arts, students are given more opportunities for future success.