The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

School environment

June 14, 2021

Social Studies Teacher Lina Densley moved to London for the 2019-2020 school year after teaching at numerous schools in the U.S., ranging from public to private to charter. Upon arrival, Densley said she felt the school was inclusive of new faculty.

“As far as reaching out to teachers, making sure that they’re welcome, having groups for all the newbie teachers to be able to go out and do adventures and things together and get to know each other, ASL does a really good job of that,” she said.

Choir Director Ben Waltz began teaching at ASL the same year as Densley after teaching at multiple public schools in the U.S. Similarly, he said the school has certain methods in place such as the DEI Statement, which helps to constantly evaluate how to best welcome people, particularly minority groups, into the community.

“There are really intentional conversations around our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement about what does that actually mean for new folks at ASL who may not feel welcome everywhere,” he said. “I like that the school is examining what that actually means, not just saying, but actually examining.”

Fernando Hartogs (’24), originally from Brazil, joined the school in K1. He said there was a language barrier when he initially started at the school. Through teachers’ support, however, he said he adapted quickly to the environment, eventually becoming fluent in English.

“I was always very supported by the teachers, especially with speaking English and learning English because coming from Brazil, I didn’t really speak English whatsoever,” he said.

Furthermore, Stella Schabel (’22) said teachers at ASL are always very willing to spend additional time working with students and go above and beyond planning lessons in comparison to the previous school she attended. Although Schabel started at the school in K2, she left in Grade 2 and moved to a German school in Hong Kong with a British curriculum before returning to ASL in the middle of Grade 5.

Eden Leavey

“I really felt a difference between the teaching style,” she said. “The teachers are just really passionate about what they teach, which is something that is so awesome.”

Schabel said ASL has proven to be a much more inclusive environment as the competitive ways of her old school created division among students.

“They would highlight the good students,” she said. “If some students were getting a lot of awards or whatever, they would put that on their Facebook page or make them seem very exclusive.”

However, Waltz said ASL should be particularly conscious about making incoming members of the community feel welcome and included now and in the coming years due to the isolating effects of COVID-19.

“It’s more difficult right now and just making sure that everybody’s intentional about that with new students coming in and new faculty coming in for the next couple of years,” he said. “This is a shared experience, but shared from a distance, which would just create some unique circumstances.”

As a new student who joined the school in fall 2020, Percy Stillman (’23) said students are generally more friendly in the High School compared to the student body of his former British school and create an inclusive environment.

“There’s more of a student community, I’d say, to collaborate in a way that’s maybe a bit different,” he said.

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