“The school builds the community and in return, the community helps build the school” - Lara Stefánsdóttir , principal of Menntaskólinn á Tröllaskaga
Menntaskólinn á Tröllaskaga (MTR), is a junior college, located in Olafsfjorour, a small town of population 800 in Northern Iceland. Most of the students are 16-24 years. The school also caters to adult learners.
“Most of the students did not finish school. In a small town, most became sailors or marry one. You can earn $1-2m kronas going out to sea. Why bother with education? Now we are slowly changing that concept and the atmosphere in the community. The school was put here to raise the culture. People realize that they can do more thing here than in the past. “ - Lara Stefánsdóttir.
When Lara Stefánsdóttir became the principal 6 years ago, one of her goals in setting up the school was to give the young people in the town different options in life. As the principal, Lara sets the tone for the school. She felt that it was important that the students are able to path their own career and hopefully, stay and grow their roots in the town. Hence, the school’s motto is Innovation, Creativity and Courage and it’s reflected in what they did.
The legislation for junior college was changed in 2008 and the new guidelines gave Lara a lot of leeway in designing a new school and curriculum. The school is considered unorthodox even in Iceland. Lara and her staff are constantly reviewing the curriculum to study what was important to their students and how to make the classes more engaging. In a Forensic science class, students were given sheep’s blood and were told to simulate actions of a murder. The teacher, Vera Sólveig Ólafsdóttir, came up with the idea and was backed by Lara. “I might not be able to do this if it’s another school.” said Vera.
This story was published in "The Other Hundred" in 2016. The Other Hundred is a worldwide initiative to provide a better understanding of the people who make up our world and the lives they lead.
In a Forensic science class, students were given sheep’s blood and were told to simulate actions of a murder. The teacher, Vera Sólveig Ólafsdóttir, came up with the idea and was backed by Lára. “I might not be able to do this if it’s another school.” said Vera.