Andrew Ringham takes unexpected path to ASL

Ringham+on+his+educational+trip+to+China.++Ringham+said+that+his+trip+to+China+exposed+him+to+international+teaching%2C+a+concept+that+was+new+to+him%2C+but+one+that+inspired+him+to+eventually+come+to+London+to+teach.+

Photo courtesy of Andrew Ringham

Ringham on his educational trip to China. Ringham said that his trip to China exposed him to international teaching, a concept that was new to him, but one that inspired him to eventually come to London to teach.

Helen Roth, Co-Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online

When talking about his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, Science Teacher Andrew Ringham uses the analogy of traveling back to elementary school.

“I remember walking the halls of my elementary school and just thinking, ‘Everything is familiar, but it’s all shrunk,’” he said. “And that’s exactly what it feels like to go home. It’s still wonderful, but everything feels so much smaller than it did when I was living there.” 

Apart from going to college in Minnesota, Ringham hadn’t truly left Indiana until he was 26 years old, when he traveled to China with fellow teachers through an education company. 

While he was there, Ringham met educators who taught at American schools in Shanghai, a concept that was new to him. 

I literally left it all behind one day and flew here, and it’s changed everything about me. My existence is bigger. My world is bigger. ”

— Science Teacher Andrew Ringham

“I remember every moment of my conversations with them,” he said. “I was like, ‘What? Can I do this? Where do I sign up?’” 

Inspired, Ringham decided to “put his name out there for international schools,” eventually receiving a job offer at ASL. 

“It was just a total accident,” he said. “It was the same time that the school hired Dr. Bonthrone to be assistant principal, and that made the opening in the science department really late, after all the schools had mostly hired all their teachers. But my name was still floating out there, and Dr. Phillips found me and was just like, ‘Hey, are you interested in coming to London?’” 

Ringham signed a two year contract to come to London. However, he said he was not sure how long he would stay. 

Ringham sings karaoke during his senior year of college. Apart from going to college in Minnesota, Ringham hadn’t truly left his home state of Indiana until he was 26 years old. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Ringham)

“I was just like, ‘Well, I don’t know, I don’t want this to be my whole life. I’ll just try it for a bit, and I’ll even leave after a year. I don’t care,’” he said laughing. “Now I have been here for seven years.” 

Ringham said that if he had remained in Indiana, he would have started to settle down early. 

“In Indiana, all your friends are married and have kids,” he said. “You do it really young. It seemed like I was settling into what was going to be my life forever, and I wasn’t ready for that yet.”

Indeed, after a 23 second pause, Ringham said that his most transformative experience was moving to London, as it has made the world feel like a bigger place. 

“I literally left it all behind one day and flew here, and it’s changed everything about me,” he said. “My existence is bigger. My world is bigger.” 

As Ringham goes through his life, he said he always carries a piece of advice with him that he received in college. 

I would never trade the life I have now with the life I imagined. It just happened by a sequence of lucky accidents and it’s been the best thing ever.”

— Science Teacher Andrew Ringham

“I took a class with a physics professor named Marvin Marshak, who was a really renowned physicist,” he said. “He said to never compare yourself to other peoples’ bulls***.” 

Ringham said that, especially in the world we live in today, it’s hard not to think about how everyone is smarter and more talented to you, as people only showcase their success stories. 

“It’s really easy to sit there and say, ‘I’m a failure compared to this, or I’m not as successful compared to this,’” he said. “But that’s you comparing yourself to everyone else’s bulls***, and it’s really important not to fall into that trap.” 

Looking into the future, Ringham said his past proves that truly anything could happen.

For example, when he was younger Ringham said he imagined himself conducting scientific research for his job. So, he began to pursue research in college, but said the research setup in a basement was “dreary” and “lonely.” He chuckled as he said he even kept a sleeping bag in the lab. 

Apart from research, however, Ringham also was a teaching assistant, a job that he said he thoroughly enjoyed, and revealed his love of teaching.

Ringham poses for a picture during his educational trip to China. Ringham said that his trip to China exposed him to international teaching, a concept that was new to him, but one that inspired him to eventually come to London to teach. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Ringham)

“I was finding myself arranging extra help sessions outside of class with these students,” he said. “I was having way more fun doing that. So when I graduated, I thought I needed a break from being a student, so I got a job teaching high school. That was 12 years ago.” 

Ringham said these redirections in his life have been immensely valuable. 

“My life looks nothing like I would have imagined it,” he said. “I have really firmly realized that I would never trade the life I have now with the life I imagined. It just happened by a sequence of lucky accidents and it’s been the best thing ever.”