"We are a digital lighthouse school"

30 years of analyzing poems, vocabulary and equations, 30 years of lunch and homework, 30 years of the Oskar-Maria-Graf-Gymnasium (OMG). And that should be celebrated. 956 students are currently studying at the Neufahrner School, around 100 of them graduate from high school every year. Over the past three decades, five principals have driven the development of the grammar school, with digitization at the top of the list of priorities. Headmaster Stefan Bäumel explains in an interview with the SZ what makes the OMG so special and why a school has to be digital these days.

SZ: Mr. Bäumel, 30 years OMG Neufahrn. How is this celebrated?

Stefan Bäumel: We invited the cabaret artist Han’s Klaffl to the opening event on September 21st. On the day we celebrate with the school community and some honored guests who are associated with us. For the further course of the school year we then planned smaller events, for example a week in which the pupils deal with Oskar Maria Graf. The German lessons are particularly useful for dealing with the writer, addressing his vita and his position in the world of writers.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the proportion of students from Eching and Neufahrn who went to the Werner-Heisenberg-Gymnasium in Garching rose to almost 30 percent. The lack of space led to a separate building after a branch at the Neufahrner Hauptschule. How has the OMG established itself since then?

When the number of students in Garching increased, a special-purpose association was founded, which built and operated the grammar school. In the meantime, the sponsorship has passed to the district and with regard to the use of the auditorium there is still a close bond between the district and the municipality of Neufahrn. Since then, the children from the Neufahrn, Eching, Mintraching and Hallbergmoos area have been able to take advantage of the OMG as an educational path and benefit from a linguistic, scientific and technological branch.

The OMG has high registration numbers every year. What is the reason for that?

I think there are many different reasons. Our offer is very attractive. We are a digital lighthouse school, especially through the pandemic we all realized how important digitization is.

In the field of digitization, the OMG is way ahead. How has digitization changed education and teaching over the past 30 years?

Digitization has become an integral part of our everyday life. At OMG we now benefit from the work done by my predecessors. Franz Vogl and Juliane Stubenrauch-Böhme in particular have pushed the OMG digitally forward. Precisely because we already have WiFi in all classrooms, because there are projection options and that even before digitization was promoted in schools through subsidies. It is important to us that the children and young people learn how to use media sensibly right from the start. That’s why we’re now taking part in a school experiment, “Digital School of the Future.” Two years get a one-to-one equipment with iPads from the Free State of Bavaria with 300 euros each subsidized. This gives every child the opportunity to take part in lessons with a digital device. We are also a model school KI@school. Artificial intelligence is used to find out where the child still needs support. But that will only develop in the next few years.

For such projects you need enough teachers. There aren’t any at the moment. Why doesn’t anyone want to be a teacher anymore?

You’re asking the right person (laughs) . I became a teacher very consciously, I wanted to work with children, impart knowledge and values. At the Gymnasium we accompany our students from child to adult. It’s also a bit idealistic.

Why should young people still become teachers today?

It’s a job that brings a lot of fulfillment. You can achieve a lot, give the children a world view: For example, we focus on conveying the European idea and it is important to us that the children are given the great good of a free and democratic basic order.

To what extent are schools and educational opportunities better today than they were 30 years ago?

(Thinks for a long time) It has become wider. I’m thinking specifically of talented students. We also want to consciously promote high performers. On the other hand, underperforming children are strengthened so that they can reach the class goal. Overall, the school system became more permeable. Many roads lead to high school.

Do alumni actually come back to high school for such an anniversary?

Yes! Pupils from previous years are of course invited, but also former teachers and headmasters. The kick-off event is about exchanging ideas a bit, but first and foremost we want to celebrate the anniversary. It’s a great choice with Mr. Klaffl, who used to be a teacher himself.

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