EBI Course for Juniors – The “Foundations” of an Andover Experience

This past week, groups of Equity, Balance, and Inclusion (EBI) cohorts held their last meetings, ending the course sequence for the year. EBI’s “Foundations” is a mandatory seminar for all Juniors, covering topics such as self-care, healthy relationships, and effective communication. 

Brigitte Leschhorn, an Instructor in English, is the 9th grade Course Head for the EBI program. According to Leschhorn, Andover’s EBI curriculum is fluid; shifting and changing based on student, T.A., and instructor feedback as the years change. Leschhorn spoke on how a large part of the end-of-term EBI review was collecting and sifting through feedback received to restructure the EBI curriculum for the future year.

“So, as we’re wrapping up [the term], usually what I do is I look at what students are really craving and what things are in my control. There are some things that students say they want me to improve that are actually not in my control. So for example, EBI during a lunch period, not in my control, but they say something like we want different topics, or why don’t you talk about this particular topic, then that’s what I implement,” said Leschhorn in an interview with The Phillipian

Vernon Ha ’26 spoke on how, as the year progressed and the topics shifted from navigating Andover to other EBI material, presentations and classroom discussions decreased in productivity. He also commented on how, because many people don’t speak or pay attention to the content, there isn’t much benefit from attending the class. 

“Well, at first it was kind of useful learning about the school, but afterward it’s just kind of boring and you don’t really do anything. There’s one or two people that actually talk, the rest of the people just sit there and the topics are fine, it’s just the way they teach it. It’s been alright, but it’s kind of a useless course because no one really pays attention during class,” said Ha. 

Similarly, Penelope Tong ’26 described how the productivity of the EBI class depended on the people in the class and the topics being taught, however, felt that the presentations only covered surface-level information. Tong continued by expressing how EBI could be appreciated more if the class was not held during a lunch period and was held at a different time. 

“The topics were interesting but the slideshows only cover brief, common knowledge. In a lot of classes, they’ve been interacting a lot and making friends but our class was pretty silent, no one said anything unless it was a really interesting or controversial topic. I think EBI is 100% bound to be disliked if it’s taking a part of someone’s lunch block. So maybe if it were an actual class period rather than someone’s lunch period, or ASM period, it would be maybe more well-received,” said Tong. 

Another Junior in the EBI program, Kaliah Fortune ’26, highlighted the inefficiency of EBI in the fall and winter terms and expressed how she was excited to see the program continue to improve. Fortune noted how she preferred more interactive classes, games, and discussions compared to article-reading that took place in earlier terms.

“I think this is already a little bit changed, but I was not a fan of how much we did article readings and things like that in the winter and fall term. It just felt like it was a waste of time. EBI wasn’t supposed to feel like a stressful class and here we are reading articles, doing things, and most of the time, we don’t even engage with the material or it’s just going in one ear and out the other. And I feel moving past that and finding ways to engage us in other ways, rather than just reading would be a lot better.” said Fortune.

Asher Egerton-Idehen ’26 commented on the scheduling of EBI programs. Egerton-Idehen explained how it might be easier for faculty and students alike to dedicate a set block for EBI or make the curriculum shorter instead of cutting into students’ lunch blocks.

“I thought EBI overall was alright, it did teach some alright lessons. It’s just maybe it’s a little bit hard to enjoy when it’s in between classes and you might need to study. I personally think we should make it shorter or reconsider its timeslot within our days,” said Egerton-Idehen.

Leschhorn echoed the sentiments of the students. She shared that the shifting dynamics in the classroom have affected participation, and how the program as a whole has integrated prior feedback. 

“One of the main things that I hope to do differently is to provide more choices that fit the objectives of the lessons so that instructors, TAs, and students are able to take the lesson the way they want to take it depending on the mood and feel of the room… So get some feedback on the topics that we have definitely shifted in the past, but how to integrate that as part of the programming or the structure of EBI, so that it is much more responsive. And then creating lessons that are flexible in two years so that you don’t have to redo a whole lesson, but you just have a structure there for flexibility.” said Leschhorn.