Smart & Heart Rome: Headmaster Marco Di Maro
From September, Smart & Heart Rome, a project promoted with the support of the Department of Digital Transformation of the City of Rome, will organise a new Innovation Gym in Corviale (Municipio XI) [see news: An Innovation Gym in Corviale]. The gym will be set up at the Istituto comprensivo Fratelli Cervi, directed by Marco Di Maro. The school already has always acted as a “lighthouse” for Corviale, and all the more so now, with a full renovation project underway.
In this interview with Onelia Onorati, Headmaster Marco Di Maro describes the local and school context that led to this synergy with the Fondazione Mondo Digitale.
What role does a school like the “Fratelli Cervi” have in the Corviale neighbourhood? How does it bring fundamental processes such as sustainability and the digital transition to the community?
Even more than a fundamental role, we have a strong responsibility, but also an important opportunity. Our school is located in one of the three suburban areas that are considered a key challenge for the city, together with Tor Bella Monaca and San Basilio. These are economically depressed areas, often characterised by educational poverty, in which schools must stand out as a lighthouse. Beyond all statistics, this is the reality. Families turn to us not only for an education, but also for social needs and help in general. So, well beyond our institutional role, we take charge of children at 360 degrees, even in terms of necessary therapy. Over the past few years, things have changed in the neighbourhood. We have experienced extremely complicated issues, but our faculty is “naturally selected,” so to speak. They are resilient, determined, and motivated. And over the course of the years, they have responded splendidly to the local challenges, studying motivating and interesting educational strategies. In short, they have always been ahead of the National Digital School Plan, gathering grassroots inspiration. All of our classrooms have had monitors and/or PCs for many years now.
Will joining Project Smart & Heart Rome provide important opportunities, also considering that we are in a large suburb and non in a central area where such opportunities are already present?
The entire faculty and I believe in this possibility. The project perfectly suits our course catalogue and will create a digital environment for the local community. Welcoming citizens is a priority for us, as demonstrated with the opening of the new building, with the completion of the theatre, in agreement with Rome’s Municipio XI, and thanks to the bean-shaped building which will host labs. The opportunity of having a digital gym will fit in perfectly with our aims. We have truly met on a common path.
Movie sets, renovation projects, contemporary artist collectives … Corviale has been the focus of many initiatives that have shed light on the difficulties of local residents. However, it risks becoming a “trite” symbol of the educational poverty that afflicts suburbs and losing its unique characteristics. What does your neighbourhood truly need?
A project like Smart & Heart Rome, for example, perfectly suits the community. It provides digital tools as a lever for growth. Associationism is vital and multifaceted here. There is an incredible desire to make things better and schools work well. Digital tools however are scarce and the FMD proposal provides something that we need. Now, the school, in agreement with the district council, will activate extracurricular courses to share this opportunity with the entire neighbourhood. We are firmly committed to this.
Following the first training courses, what demands or stimuli are emerging?
I expect and hope that students will provide many suggestions for their future; for example, the possibility to study STEM after they come into contact with the Innovation Gym. From our first visits to the Rome Città Educativa, our faculty was impressed and satisfied by activities proposed, and could see great opportunity for our school. And, in addition to all of this, there is the possibility of helping us complete our digital facilities, beyond funds already allocated to the school.