The ASL Innovator-in-Residence Program was introduced in 2019-20, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. The program supports innovative teaching and learning across all areas of the curriculum, and is now supported by an additional anonymous donor. We are grateful to the commitment of these families whose vision benefits our students every day. Through this permanent endowment, students will have direct access to innovative leaders in a diverse range of fields whose work will complement and enhance the ASL approach to interdisciplinary studies.
The focus of the Innovator-in-Residence Program changes annually and take many different forms—the program itself has the flexibility to be “innovative.” Future innovators will represent a combination of fields of interest, and the program will introduce our students to individuals with different life experiences who think and work “outside the box.” The goal is to help our students find fulfillment and purpose in their professional paths, wherever those paths may lead. Innovators-in-residence may be from abroad, or from right here in London. Innovators may hold the residency for one academic year or for shorter, more intensely focused periods of time as appropriate to their interests and work.
We look forward to the creative energy that our innovators will bring to ASL, inspiring our students to new levels of critical thinking and design-based learning, and enabling them to be well prepared for life in a changing world.
We are delighted that Daniel Raven-Ellison, “guerilla geographer and creative explorer,” has taken up our invitation to partner with us at ASL for the 2020-21 school years as our second Innovator-in-Residence. Daniel will work with our students on projects related to community and the environment. You may have heard Daniel speak to our community during Earth Day at ASL in 2019.
Daniel led the initiative to have Greater London declared the world's first National Park City in 2019. One vision to inspire a million projects, this new kind of national park recognizes the importance of urban nature and galvanizes actions to improve habitats, health, quality of life and resilience across the city and beyond.
Working with National Geographic Partners, Cisco, Emotiv and ESRI, in 2017 Daniel walked more than a thousand miles across all of the UK’s 15 national parks and 69 cities, looking for insights to make a future National Park City successful. He did so while wearing an EEG that tracked his emotions. In 2018, Raven-Ellison completed a 100-meter nano-expedition for Friends of the Earth to transform how people think about Britain and to make the case for more space being protected for nature.
In addition to these accomplishments, Daniel describes himself as a parent, National Geographic Explorer, Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champion, and a former geography teacher. He says, “My work focuses on challenging myself and others to see the world in new ways. I do this by combining creative exploration, geography and communication to tackle social and environmental challenges.”
Daniel is working on a new project called “Slow Ways,” a simple idea to collaboratively create a network of 4,000+ walking routes that connect all of Great Britain’s towns and cities. He says, “Walking can improve health and wellbeing, tackle the climate and ecological emergencies, save people money, improve our environment and bring joy to people’s lives.”
2019-20 Innovator-in-Residence: Kwame Alexander
For 2019-20, our innovator-in-residence is Kwame Alexander, one of America’s most inventive and inspiring writers of children’s and young adult fiction and poetry. Kwame is the recipient of the 2015 Newbery Medal for his most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. He brings to ASL an abundance of experience that encapsulates the expansion mindset. Having worked extensively with students K-12 on writing for publication, Kwame has helped them explore connections between writing and business—fueling the imagination, and turning perceived failures into successes. He has spent years encouraging students to be authentic in their writing, to enhance their worldview, and to read, read, read.
Kwame will spend the year mentoring ASL students on writing and publishing projects, and modelling the ways that entrepreneurial skills and unlimited thinking can help open new creative endeavors, as exemplified by his own unique writing style and lifework. In addition, he will provide professional development workshops for faculty and staff, give talks and readings for our community and our community partners, and participate in the wider conversations of the School around diversity, equity and inclusion.
Our adult community summer reading text is Kwame’s novel, Swing, which our older students will also read. Kwame will address the community with a kick-off lecture in September.
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We love hearing about ASL connections being made around the world! Our Innovator-In-Residence @kwamealexander was interviewed by alumna Maya Trabulsi ’95 for PBS this week. Head over to our Facebook page to watch the interview. #ASLlearns #repost @sandiegomaya __________________ 📖 Worlds collided this week when this ASL alumna interviewed author and poet, Kwame Alexander - a new ASL educator! We didn't know about our connection until the day of our interview. So random, yet it already felt like family. 📚 . . . @asinlondon #londoner #bookstagram #thecrossover #publicmedia
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ASL Spanish teacher Melanie Manuel recently joined forces with IIR Kwame Alexander and guest visitor Mike Williams, a history teacher and poet from Maryland, to facilitate a poetry-writing workshop in a Grade 8 Spanish classroom. Students, faculty and guests worked together on a Spanish crowd-share poem—just the beginning of a much bigger project! All Grade 8 students plan to meet and replicate the activity in their languages of study, so that parts of each poem can be pieced together to create one quadrilingual poem about childhood memories and home. Stay tuned for the finished piece! #ASLlearns #poetry