The Tipping Point: Zooming the world into the classroom


July 15, 2020

As a computer science teacher in a small regional town, Ioannis Savvidis was naturally excited by The Tipping Point’s use of technology to connect schools with professionals across Greece and around the world. But he could also see the life-changing potential of the innovative career mentoring program for his students.

“Tipping Point fills a major gap in the Greek education system, which is the lack of career guidance in schools,” says Mr Savvidis, who has just completed a third year in the program at Krinides High School.

“Through Tipping Point, students were able to explore a wide spectrum of occupations which they didn’t know about. It broadens their horizons.”

Krinides High School is one of three regional and remote schools that participated in The Tipping Point program in 2019-20 with the support of THI Australia.

Between 20-30 students took part in each of the 13 interactive sessions held over the year with a range of mentors, from architects and IT professionals to pilots and personal trainers.

Students are given the opportunity to nominate professions that interest them but Tipping Point also makes recommendations from its impressive global pool of mentors.

“There were a lot of questions and the students gained a wealth of knowledge,” Mr Savvidis says.

About 150 students attend Krinides High School, located near Kavala in north-eastern Macedonia, next to the UNESCO world heritage-listed ancient site of Philippi. Agriculture remains the dominant industry in the area, with some emerging tourism opportunities from increased visitors to the region from Eastern Europe. But local employment opportunities remain limited and many young people leave to study or work in Athens or abroad.

Mr Savvidis says Tipping Point offers students much-needed vocational guidance at a critical time in their education, particularly for those in isolated rural communities. By expanding their knowledge of different fields and potential career pathways and tapping into many new and emerging occupations for Greece, students gain a broader understanding of the options and possibilities.

“It’s not necessarily the only decisive factor, they will still be influenced by their family environment but they also have in the background the experiences they have had through TTP.”

Mr Savvidis says the program had also broadened his own knowledge and challenged his preconceived ideas about certain professions, citing psychology as one example.

“I had the impression that psychology was only used for therapy and I knew psychologists that could not make ends meet because it was competitive and, with a lot of unemployment, it was hard for people to afford it.

“Tipping Point gave us the opportunity to talk to a psychologist who works at an advertising agency. In another session with an HR manager from a multinational company, we learned that psychology has application everywhere, in business analysis, in politics, so if a student wanted to study psychology combined with another discipline, there is demand.”

With the first group of students at Krinides who participated in TTP doing their final exams this year, Mr. Savvidis was keen to see the impact of the program.

“At the end of this year, we asked them how important TTP was in their final choices about what field they applied to study,” he says.

“I have at least two students who will be applying to study psychology based on what they learned through Tipping Point.”

Through meeting multiple professionals and connecting with today’s labour market, students say they gain a better understanding of the academic and career paths they aimed to follow, while the program also gives them the opportunity to explore their interests, discover new paths and be more open-minded about different professional fields.  

When the school shut down during the COVID-19 lockdown in March, Mr Savvidis said they were well-prepared and had the systems in place to keep the Tipping Point program running, helping bring students together.

When we had the first Tipping Point session after lockdown, the students were relieved to see their fellow students from nearby villages and me, we all felt better,” Mr Savvidis said.

He also saw the important role the program could play in response to the rapidly changing COVID-19 reality.

“Now, we are living in new circumstances. All the professions have to use technology and adapt and new professions will be created.

“TTP can take advantage of both the platform and the ability through the network of mentors to inform students about the current and relevant skills that someone needs to have to respond in today’s world, what is happening in the market, what skills a modern plumber needs to have, for example, who might need to give instructions online.”

Mr Savvidis hopes Krinides High School will be able to continue offering the program when the new school year begins in September and beyond.

“Every teacher wants to make a difference and this program enables us to do just that. TTP is like a compass for students. It also gives the opportunity for me as an educator to become a student again.”

Please consider helping us to ensure that schools like Krinides can remain in the successful Tipping Point Program into the future. With your support, we can provide more students in remote school communities with the opportunity to aspire and achieve.

For further information, contact THI Australia CEO, Stergitsa Zamagias-Hill at  stergitsa@thehellenicinitiative.com.au