The Year That Was… Visitors to ASH

In this edition of celebrating “the year that was…”, we are looking back and highlighting a number of the incredible visitors and speakers we were fortunate to be able to welcome to ASH (before the coronavirus pandemic of course). The diversity of our community is also represented in the speakers and visitors we have welcomed to our ASH campus, both in terms of the subject matters they cover, their life experiences, and their visits’ intentions (for example; speaking with students vs. offering training to our teachers). All of this benefits us as a whole, as a community of learners and in giving us all the very best #ASHexperience.

The school year started with a visit by inspirational speaker Mike Smith, an author, entrepreneur, and ‘professional teenager” (his words, not ours!) who spent one whole day in September speaking with students and staff alike. Mike made a big impact on all who heard him speak and definitely taught all of us who attended his talks a lesson in how much we are attached to our digital devices. He encouraged our students to “...make an impact, and fight for someone or something bigger than yourself. Try not to wish for, or talk about, but do.” It was clear in listening to students as they left Mike’s talks, that his words made a difference to them and definitely sparked some inspiration. For more on Mike Smith’s visit and some of his inspirational words, click here.

Also within the first few weeks of the school year, we welcomed educational consultant Ken O’Connor, who worked closely with the ASH community in thinking about current assessment and grading practices, and how we can best continue to help our students become lifelong learners. 

Next on the visitors’ agenda was Eowyn Crisfield, an internationally renowned specialist in multilingualism and education. Eowyn spent time with both our faculty and our parent community, examining the challenges children face as multilinguists and what this means for their education. These challenges are particularly present at a school like ASH, due to our incredible diversity, with our student population representing almost 80 nationalities. In the sessions she conducted, Eowyn gave our faculty and parents the tools and guidance on how to manage and support these challenges our students face, and perhaps help support their own multilingual journey. If you would like to learn more about these challenges and how to overcome these, read more about Eowyn Crisfield’s visit here.

Then in the same week in November, ASH welcomed Ron Ritchart, a renowned researcher at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and Trevor MacKenzie, an author, and award-winning educator. With Ron’s research focusing on understanding how to develop, nurture, and sustain thoughtful learning environments for both students and teachers and Trevor’s passion for inquiry-based learning, ASH saw this as the perfect chance to host a conversation with the two for our inaugural session of our “Fireside Chats”. This gave our staff a chance to engage with both Ron and Trevor and the opportunity to pick their brains on the future of education. We also had the chance to speak to them both individually for interviews, for Ron’s click here and for Trevor’s click here.

Our next visitor was excitedly welcomed by students, parents and staff alike, critically-acclaimed author R.J. Palacio. With her visit to ASH, being her only stop in the Netherlands, she shared reflections on the success of her first book Wonder, as part of her talk and also spoke about her new graphic novel, White Bird. Most importantly, she shared a message of kindness and the value it holds no matter your age, position in life, or where you come from. Read more from her visit here and in her word, “...choosing kindness, is here to stay.”

The visitors and speakers who come to ASH have such varied backgrounds, and it is because of this, our community is exposed to different ideas and rich experiences. In November, our fourth graders were lucky to be visited by human rights defender and lawyer, Dilip Chakma. They had been studying an interdisciplinary unit about what makes us who we are and within this, learning about human rights. Mr. Chakma led an interactive and collaborative session with our students, ensuring everyone had the chance to share their opinions, and you can read all about it here.

We are so appreciative of everyone who has visited our campus over the last school year and this article is just a snapshot of the amazing people we have welcomed to ASH. Thank you all for the part you have played in our community’s #ASHexperience and being a part of our journey and story this school year.

#ASHexperience #thejourneymatters