The New Old: Andover’s EBI Program Returns to 2019 Structure

After a year of an adjusted curriculum for Covid-19, Andover’s Empathy, Balance, and Inclusion  classes now reflect the original EBI programming from 2019, according to Taylor Ware, Associate Director of College Counseling, who serves as the senior EBI coordinator. 

With a return to fully on-campus life, in-person EBI programming for all four grades has resumed. Each EBI class is instructed by a faculty member, with an Upper or a Senior co-teacher for Junior and Lower EBI classes, respectively. With students from differing backgrounds and experiences with EBI-like classes, Andover caters its curriculum towards community building and an introduction to Andover values. As an EBI Upper, Sol Kim ’23 emphasized the importance of EBI for new students, as it allows them to get to know their peers better and transition into the Andover community. 

“In EBI they teach the values we have at Andover and how you get along with people at Andover because we all come from somewhere different and it might be hard to get along. And EBI is just a space to help new students with that,” said Kim. 

Though some students, including Kim, see EBI in a positive light, students like Magnus Adams ’23 feel that certain changes need to be made within the program. This year, the organization of EBI classes for Uppers has changed. As opposed to typical EBI classes, Uppers now have EBI for one term in the year. This means that students are in an EBI class with one third of their grade. Adams explained that this large group, in comparison to the smaller class sizes of EBI in the past two years, prevents EBI from its ability to foster connections.

Adams said, “This year, as an Upper, it’s one singular large group. It’s a third of the class, as opposed to last year, where each person’s English class would be their EBI group. I think that the massive group loses a lot of the individuality that I feel is crucial to a lot of what EBI is supposed to be. It just feels sort of messy by comparison, because last year, it was a lot easier to get to know the people in your EBI class because you already had a class with them. This year, it’s one hundred something students packed in a single room, and we are just supposed to figure it out as we go.”

EBI coordinators faced difficulty with scheduling EBI and finding a time that was suitable  and convenient for all students. Instead of having pre-set EBI blocks, the course had to be squeezed in during free periods and protected time. 

“One of biggest challenges for Transitions this year, and I think for EBI in general, is that unlike last year when EBI had dedicated periods in our weekly schedule, the entire program has to be fit in to spaces in our traditional weekly schedule- either during students’ free periods or in the Friday Protected Time slot.  This is hard for students who count on those periods to get work done, visit the Academic Skills Center, to have some downtime or anything else that comes up.  It’s also hard for the teachers who teach in our program because it eats up time that they would typically be using in other ways,” Ware wrote in an email to The Phillipian.

Amidst the challenges of post-Covid-19 planning and varied student responses to these modifications, Ms. Ware expressed both excitement for EBI’s continued presence in the upcoming year and thanks to both students and colleagues involved in EBI. 

Ware wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I think I speak for our entire department when I say how grateful we are to our colleagues who generously share their time to teach in our program and to our students who plan ahead on the weeks that they have EBI.”