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The Wayfinder: A NESA Podcast

A NESA PODCAST • CONNECTING OUR COMMUNITY

The Wayfinder is a monthly podcast on learning, leadership, and community. Every month, host and NESA school graduate Abril Soewarso-Rivera engages with thought leaders and partners in international education to discuss high-impact topics in the field. From grappling with artificial intelligence to designing the inclusive classroom, join us as we bring relevant issues forward, help our wider community connect the dots, and elevate student voice. Let’s find our way together!!

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The Wayfinder Episode 7: Equity by (re)Design with Jacinta Williams

The Wayfinder Episode 7: Equity by (re)Design with Jacinta Williams

What does it mean to decolonize the classroom?

On our latest episode, join Abril in conversation with Jacinta Williams, a social justice and racial equity practitioner committed to building competencies and strategically addressing challenging issues in existing structures, policies, and practices. She coaches local and international schools and companies to achieve equitable conditions at every level. In their discussion, Abril and Jacinta dive into why and how we should strive to approach the classroom through a decolonial lens, how we can celebrate students’ racial and ethnic identities, and how we can foster meaningful dialogue across difference.

The episode features the insights of Zohra Jaffery, a high school student at the American School of Dubai, who shares a time that she felt culturally represented in her school’s AP World History curriculum.

April 11, 2024

 



The Wayfinder Episode 6: Deep Ecology with Ivy Yan

The Wayfinder Episode 6: Deep Ecology with Ivy Yan

How can we help our learners connect to nature with their heads, hearts, and hands?

Abril sits down with Ivy Yan, a sought-after educational designer and facilitator based in Shanghai and Beijing. Advocating for the happiness and well-being of human beings and nature as a whole, she works with schools and organizations on strategic visioning, leadership coaching, and student-facing experiential learning. She believes in holistic and progressive education that is rooted in self-care, care for others, and care for nature. A natural cross-pollinator who draws inspirations from her diverse training and experiences, she integrates deep ecology and traditional wisdom into design and innovation, futures thinking, and media studies. For Inspire Citizens, she directs the Eco-Media literacy experiences and programs, while also co-facilitating the Inspire Citizens Global Citizenship Certification for Educators.

Abril and Ivy dive into a discussion of the concept of Deep Ecology and how it can be woven into modern-day learning. Ivy also shares tangible practices she uses with K-12 students to facilitate mindfulness and appreciation in nature. 

At the close of our episode, we turn to Joydeep, a grade 11 student from the Kodaikanal International School in southern India, who shares her thoughts on what it means to live in harmony with her environment.

March 7, 2024

 



The Wayfinder Episode 5: Futures of Learning with Raya Bidshahri

The Wayfinder Episode 5: Futures of Learning with Raya Bidshahri

What are the benefits of adaptive, future-focused education models?

In this episode, Abril sits down with Raya Bidshahri, the Founder and CEO of the School of Humanity, a breakthrough online high school reinventing what education looks like. Raya works with education providers, governments, investors, and EdTech companies to pave exciting, forward-thinking pathways for our next generation of learners, and will be speaking at the upcoming 2024 NESA Learning Futures Summit.

Abril and Raya discuss the concept of moonshot thinking, what sets the School of Humanity apart, and how we can communicate student success differently. Raya cites K-12 schools that are at the forefront of the movement, including the Green School in Indonesia and Agora School in the Netherlands.

After their conversation, we turn to Mustafa, a grade 8 student from The American International School of Muscat in Oman, who exhibited enterprising skills in starting a newsletter at his middle school. His work is a perfect example of how students thrive in ways that might not necessarily be captured in a report card.

February 8, 2024

 



The Wayfinder Episode 4: Inclusion and Universal Design with Lee Ann Jung

The Wayfinder Episode 4: Inclusion & Universal Design with Lee Ann Jung

How do we design the inclusive classroom and stretch learners for what they need at the right time?

Join Abril in conversation with Lee Ann Jung, founder of Lead Inclusion and a clinical professor at San Diego State University. Lee Ann has consulted with schools in more than 30 countries in the areas of universal design for learning (UDL), inclusion, intervention, and mastery assessment and grading. Lee Ann keeps kids at the center of her work, always leading with care, sincerity, and optimism.

Abril and Lee Ann discuss meeting the individual needs of each student, re-evaluating metrics of success, and supporting belonging at every level. Lee Ann shares a story of how one particular student she worked with experienced soaring growth thanks to inclusive practices and high expectations.

Abril then asks Zenobia and Alistair, two Grade 1 students from the Schutz American School, for advice on how to encourage yourself when you’re struggling with a new concept in the classroom.

January 11, 2024

 



The Wayfinder Episode 3: Social Emotional Learning with Ellen Mahoney

The Wayfinder Episode 3: Social Emotional Learning with Ellen Mahoney

How can we nurture the social-emotional needs of our learners?

In this episode, we connect with Ellen Mahoney, the CEO and Founder of Sea Change Mentoring, an organization that builds mentoring programs for international schools. Ellen has contributed to major youth-mentoring publications such as the National Mentoring Partnership's Research Agenda (2021), the E-Mentoring Supplement for the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring, and has co-authored a chapter on university transitions and suicide in a forthcoming book on suicide prevention.

Ellen’s work thrives in its emphasis on cultivating student wellbeing and providing care and support during important life transitions. Abril and Ellen speak about culturally-sensitive social emotional learning, staying connected as third culture kids, and the idea of collective resilience.

After our discussion, we turn to Amina, a grade 1 student from the Schutz American School (SAS) in Alexandria, Egypt, who closes the episode with some earnest thoughts on expressing our feelings and being a good friend.

December 7, 2023

 



The Wayfinder Episode 2: AI & Distruptive Technologies with Michael Nachbar

The Wayfinder Episode 2: AI & Distruptive Technologies with Michael Nachbar

Which learning futures are we reaching towards?

Join Abril in conversation with Michael Nachbar, the Executive Director of Global Online Academy, a pioneering network of schools and educators who are reimagining learning to thrive in a globally networked society.

Michael is a frequent speaker and workshop facilitator at national and international conferences, and presents on such topics as educational trends impacting schools and modern teaching. Abril and Michael discuss how we can call upon AI and emerging technologies to augment teaching and strengthen learning outcomes.

Then, Abril connects with John Papadakis, the Director of Media Productions at the American Community Schools of Athens (ACS), Greece, to chat about what media literacy means in theory and in practice. ACS high school students Josie and Stelios help us close out the episode by offering up their thoughts on how their class on media literacy and productions has expanded their worldview when it comes to ethical consumption in the age of information overload.

November 9, 2023

 



The Wayfinder Episode 1: Student Choice with Tom Schimmer

The Wayfinder Episode 1: Student Choice with Tom Schimmer

How can we keep students in the driver’s seat of their own learning?

In this episode, we connect with Tom Schimmer, an education author, speaker, and consultant from Vancouver, Canada. He is recognized as a leader and expert in the areas of classroom assessment, sound grading practices, and educational leadership. For decades, Tom has worked with principals, heads of school, and administrators, but on a more practical level, he has also collaborated directly with classroom teachers.

Our host, Abril Soewarso-Rivera, speaks with Tom about leveraging student agency, assessment practices that empower young learners, and what it means to ‘scale up’ in schools. We feature Reina, a grade 4 student from the American International School of Jeddah (AISJ), who shares her thoughts on choice in the classroom. 

Our episode closes with a story from LeeAnne Lavender on the unique partnership that has been forged between Khartoum American School (KAS) and NESA Member Schutz American School (SAS), in Alexandria, Egypt. KAS is currently running a campaign to raise funds to support local staff still in Khartoum. You can donate here.

October 5, 2023

 



Abril Soewarso-Rivera

About the Host

Abril Soewarso-Rivera is a Mexican-Indonesian-American audio storyteller, performer, and writer. She first fell in love with radio as a backseat listener to NPR’s This American Life and hosts a podcast of her own, titled Love in Public. Love in Public explores the “geography of conversation” through human storytelling. Abril grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, on the Red Sea, and most recently, spent four years in Vancouver, Canada. She is a NESA school alumna, having graduated from The KAUST School in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia in 2019. She studied psychology and international relations at the University of British Columbia. Abril is passionate about community-building, solo travel, and the intersections between art and activism.


If you have enjoyed the podcast, please take a moment to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform, and if you leave a review, you'll really help The Wayfinder find its path. NESA thanks you for your support!

  • To connect with NESA about the podcast and learn how a student from your school might be featured, please contact Abril at abril@nesacenter.org.
  • NESA is dedicated to educator professional growth to improve student learning. Visit our website to learn more about our Seasons of Learning Program.

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