Romanian Teacher of Religion distinguished by the President believes in young people’s power to change the world

Daniela Ceredeev, the Suceava County School Inspector for Religion, is a member of Romania’s Expert Corps for Educational Management. She was decorated by Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis for her activity. With a minimum of support, young people can develop and change the world for better, she says. And the strongest support is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Presbytera Daniela Ceredeev is also involved in the personal and professional development of educational staff from the region of South Bukovina, Romania. In addition, she educates youth for community life. Her students are taught not only the fundamentals of faith but also how to apply them in everyday life by volunteering.

The Teacher of Religion exclusively talked to about her mission.

Religion study prepares us for life What are the main difficulties in teaching subject matters such as Religion Study? What should the Religion teacher focus on?

Daniela Ceredeev: Unfortunately, most difficulties come from firmly fixed clichés and prejudice. I am referring to the attitude manifested by certain parents and even some of my teaching colleagues, who regard Religion just as a study object for which there are no national evaluation exams. So, they think it is irrelevant for the child’s priorities.

It is hard to not mention how superficially is the transdisciplinary potential of Religion Study regarded in schools. Also, the inability to adapt to the current century is a setback for some of the teachers. It is self-evident.

We now prepare children for what the world will be in 30 or 40 years. We are fully responsible for how they will adapt to life’s challenges, to opportunities and new perspectives brought by the future. The millennia-tested values promoted by religion have forged a way of life. There is no need for further proofs.

Religion Study teaches youth how to put into practice Christian values. Photo: Facebook / Daniela Ceredeev

How wonderful it would be to be able to join our children and youth and teach them how to live up to these values. This can definitely be done during the Religion Study class!

When I meet them in conferences and workshops, I often tell teachers: “Dear teacher, think well! Would you like your son or daughter to have a teacher like you?” Of course, I am not only referring to Religion Study teachers. Or perhaps mostly to them?!

With little support, young people can change the world How to make young people feel closer to Christ and His Church?

Daniela Ceredeev: As far as I see them, young people are world-changers-for-the-better-and-the-more-beautiful. I strongly believe in their determination and courage to make a change.

And I also think it is a false impression that their generation is vulnerable. They are no more vulnerable than we are. I know organizations and informal youth groups who work wonders in their communities.

For years, at the civil society events, I discovered the impact of youth projects and the innovative and daring perspective they bring on the really important things for our life and for the whole world.

When I speak of the young, I immediately think of Christ’s call: “…take heart! I have overcome the world”, but also of Galileo Galilei’s words: “Give me a place to stand and I shall move the world”. I think we owe to young people the freedom to try and do exactly that.

Distinguished for her involvement Why have you included volunteering on the list of activities with your students? What are the educational benefits of volunteering?

Daniela Ceredeev: I see volunteering as the most complete and complex expression of altruism. It is an enactment of the biblical principle of love for one’s neighbour. And an exercise of personal freedom. You choose to do something good and you do it in your own way. You do it as you feel, as you would like to receive in return, you meet your fellow people’s needs –  material or spiritual.

The volunteers I work with are my friends and partners. They are the guarantee of sustainability for the projects I propose. Teamwork with them involves trust, valuing one another and respecting other opinions, empathy, honesty, inner balance, cooperation, negotiation, consistency, assuming responsibility, persuasion and freedom of thought.

Volunteering activity at Moldoviţa Forest Range. Photo: Facebook / Daniela Ceredeev

In 2011 I established the Local Youth Group 4Kids Ciumârna – an informal youth group of over 100 volunteers trained in multiple activities such as socio-cultural animation for children and youth, health prevention campaigns, ecological actions, arts and crafts workshops, entrepreneurship training, awareness-raising and social integration campaigns, contests promoting creativity and personal development.

My younger friends joined from the very strart the men and women organizatins as well as the programs of assistance at home for the elderly (VIZIDOM).

If I were to count all the diplomas and awards obtained by my students over the years, I strongly believe there would be thousands, since I encourage and actively support them to participate in competitions to gain trust in themselves and to shape their personality.

True, these are not prizes at national and international competitions in fundamental objects of study from the curriculum, but we are talking of mass competitions at national level which can ensure a coherent evaluation of their competences, which test their creativity and thus grow their self-confidence and self-respect.

Every competition is important for them, and the awards become motivation for further performance. Their achievement are even more to be taken into account as they often come with a very active civic spirit and deep volunteer invovement. In 2011, you were awarded the title of Teacher of the Year in primary and secondary school, and in 2016 you were decorated by President Iohannis with the “Educational Merit” distinction with a Knight degree. What do you think were the main reasons for receiving official recognition for your activity?

Daniela Ceredeev: May I confess the distinctions were honorary surprises for me?

All I did was always love my profession and my students. Each of the distinctions I received were new motivations for more involvement in my profession and my community, in addition to being confirmations that I was doing well and that I could steadfastly believe in Good.

Activity at the Suceava County Library in 2019. Photo: Facebook / Daniela Ceredeev

Pandemic: tablets, Internet, visits to students in remote areas What project initiated by you helped the most your students from rural areas? What difficulties are they faced with? Can you present a few real cases?

Daniela Ceredeev: It is really difficult to talk about one single project of this kind. There have been years since the joy and blessing of teaching in the countryside ripen in the form of various project with and for the children in the rural areas. We have at least three or four big projects for them each year and one smaller project each month.

I would like to mention our recent involvment in the initiative Reaction for Education, supported by the Narada Association and the Ministry of Education and Research. We started very early, in March 2020, just as the challenge of the pandemic appeared and classes needed to be held online.

The 45 volunteer children from the Center for Innovation, Volunteering and Civic Initiative – CIVIC Jr Moldovița were the only pilot community in Suceava county (and one of just seven countrywide) for the Narada educational concept. We have thus managed to offer efficient and rapid solutions for the school crisis at the end of the last school year.

On the long term, this concept has the goal of modernizing education, bringing it into the 21st century. The Narada Initative was launched before the end of March 2020; in a very short time, we received tablets and Internet cards to continue education online with the students in the initiative group. Thus I was able to remain close to them and their parents in the next period.

I visited each of the families and offered them the tablets and Internet cards alongside a handwritten instruction kit. I found this way of connecting warmer and closer to the beneficiaries.

During the Covid-19 state of emergency, one of the projects made with the children ensured them access to online education. The teacher personally went to deliver the electronic devices and connect with the families. Photo: The Suceava Monitor newspaper

Then I visited weekly, in addition to our activities via Zoom and email: I would let them know I was coming over, I came to their fence and offered them files with more materials for learning. I would add small symbolical gifts, I would also receive their work sheets to be corrected by my teacher coleagues and we would part with the promise to see each other soon.

We celebrated the end of this school year in the same manner. It was both troubling and peaceful to climb the hills among the blossoming trees of the orchards at the time. They were waiting for me wearing field-flower crowns and I offered them diplomas, books and huge teddybears as a promise that their childhood dreams were not to be ended yet.

Beyond all this emotion, my students were really blessed. They benefited of online connection and interaction on digital platforms facilitating access to distance education, they had permanent access to the Narada platform, the possibility to participate in digital clases on the NaradiX taskforce, and assisted to lessons held by businesspeople, by showbiz celebrities, teachers and trainers from various fields of work.

All these were made available to the children from a distant village of Bukovina. Words are not enough to render the joy of having intermediated this wholesome learning experience.

The patriotism lesson of the Romanian teachers from Ukraine Have you also had activities with and for the Romanian students from Northern Bukovina? What impressions, informations and messages do you have related to our brothers from this historically Romanian province?

Daniela Ceredeev: I was a summer-course trainer for many years for the teachers of Romanian Language from Ukraine. It was a project financed by the “Eudoxiu Hurmuzachi” Institute, within the Ministry for Romanians from Abroad.

I was so happy to discover among the teachers from Ukraine, most of them members of the Romanian Teachers’ Association from Ukraine (ACDERU), fascinating people, good professionals, hurtfully impassioned by Romanian language, culture and history.

The teacher trainings are another part of Mrs. Ceredeev activity. Teachers need to learn innovative teaching methods. Photo: Facebook / Daniela Ceredeev

Each of them offered me a beautiful lesson of patriotism, so I lovingly tell their story to everybody. I seldom saw so much emotion in the voice of people who spent their life serving their national language, culture and spirituality – and this is no exaggeration.

I could see them using Romanian words and literary texts with near-piety. They get emotional to the tears and they bitterly recount their wish to freely talk to the children from Romanian villages in the language of their forefathers. [Ed. note: The Council of Europe constitutional experts have criticized Ukraine over its law forbidding minorities to use their language in Ukrainean schools.]

This was the reason why, ever since 2017, I have organized the annual campaign “A book gift on the Day of the Romanian Language”. We have offered more than 5,000 books for schools in the Chernivtsi region, where Romanian Language classes are taught.

This was our friendship with the Romanian Language teachers in Ukraine consolidated. Today, they are always invited to our cultural and educational events. The latest was the International Conference “Examples of Good Pracice in the Teaching Activity” – the 10th edition.

Left to Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis, at the decoration ceremony on August 31, 2016. Photo: Lumina Newspaper

President Iohannis said at the ceremony:

“I am glad for this opportunity to give recognition to the merits of a few vocational teachers who have distinguished themselves through their committed educational activity and dedication to their community. You are examples for youth and children. Your results are exceptional – either through your students’ results in Romanian Language school competitions, or through motivating your students to learn and become active members of our society.

This is only a part of your contribution to the development of education. Your special merits in teaching and your involvement in research projects aiming to make a difference in society or to promote Romanian Language in the country and abroad have not gone unnoticed.”

Organizations in which Daniela Ceredeev volunteers:

  • founding member and board member of the Romanian-Belgian Foundation The Open Network for the community developement (TON);
  • founding member of the Project Pro Europe Association;
  • member of the Federation Supporting Volunteering Development in Romania (VOLUM);
  • member of the Foundation for the Development of Mutual Help Assocations;
  • member of the Mutual Help Assocation (ADAM) Moldovița;
  • coordinator of the Local Youth Group (GLT) 4KIDS Ciumârna.

Volunteering prizes obtained by her students:

  • Junior Volunteer of the Year 2012, National Volunteer Gala;
  • European Volunteer of the Year 2012 – European Gala Volonteurope;
  • Volunteer of the Year 2013 – Civic Activism and Human Rights – National Volunteer Gala;
  • Educational Project of the Year, Ciumârna Local Development Center – National Volunteer Gala, 2014;
  • Project nominated as a finalist in the Civil Society Gala 2016, Youth section – Ciumârna Local Development Center;
  • Educational Project of the Year 2016, After School Caravan – National Volunteer Gala;
  • Educational Project of the Year 2017, Alternative Learning Lab – National Volunteer Gala;
  • Education Trophy at the Gala of the Vodafone Romania Foundation – Alternative Learning Lab, 2018.

Daniela Ceredeev, a professional biography:

  • School inspector for Religion Study in the county of Suceava (present)
  • Teacher of Religion and Romanian Language and Literature
  • Principal of the “Vasile Cocea” Technology College in Moldoviţa (2017-2020)
  • Member of the Consultative Council for Religion Study in Public Schools (2009-2014)
  • Member of the Consultative Council for Romanian Language and Literature in Public Schools (2010-2014)
  • Methodist Teacher – Romanian Language and Literature, Suceava School Inspectorate (2010-present)
  • Methodist Teacher – Religion Study, Suceava School Inspectorate (2012- present)
  • Mentor for teachers (2012-present)
  • Methodist Teacher for Permanent Education, Suceava School Inspectorate (2016-present)
  • Member of the National Expert Corps for Educational Management
  • National trainer for the project Relevant Curriculum, Open Education for All (CRED), Ministry of Education and Research, SMIS Code 118327
  • Trainer at the “George Tofan” Suceava  County Teachers’ House – E-PROFI, Education through Innovative PROgrams of Training for Qualified and Motivated Human Resources in the County of Suceava – SMIS Code 107116
  • Trainer for Save the Children Romania, Conflict Mediation in Schools
  • Coordinator of the We Care Center in the town of Moldovița
  • Coordinator of the School Performance in the Countryside Center – Moldovița
  • Founder and coordinator of the Center for Innovation, Volunteering and Community Initiative – CIVIC Jr Moldovița

Photo cuortesy of Facebook / Daniela Ceredeev

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