Meet Laurel, our new Character Department colleague

Laurel Waterhouse, originally from the USA, has always had an enquiring mind about the world and people, is adventurous, and thrives on taking herself out of her comfort zone. She has enriched our LEAF Academy team since September, where she works as the Dean of Character.   

In order to help introduce her further, she has answered a handful of questions for us.

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  • What are the 3 things you love the most in life?

My family and friends (and dog) have always been most important to me. Outdoor activities and sports have also played a big part in my life as I have been a competitive athlete from the time I was quite young. I am also at my happiest when I am traveling and/or eating good food!  

  • What was your life before LA like, and where have you worked/lived?

I grew up in small towns in upstate New York and in Connecticut before moving away from home to attend a boarding school in New England and then moving on to university to study International Affairs and compete in our university’s rowing team.

After graduating from university I began my career in education as a Teaching Fellow at the Taft School in Connecticut before moving on to Choate Rosemary Hall, where I taught History and Political Science, coached varsity rowing and basketball, and served as an advisor, dormitory head, and Dean.

Along the way, I’ve traveled to over 40 countries and worked for NGOs and summer programs in Korea, Cambodia, Guatemala, Tanzania and beyond. Three years ago a I made the decision to step away from teaching in order to pursue a dual master’s degree at Columbia University in New York and at the LSE in London.

Leaf Academy Bratislava
Laurel with her LEAF Academy “Family”
  • How did you come to be at LEAF Academy? What appealed you the most about LA?

In a stroke of luck, LEAF Academy found me but what really inspired me about the Academy was its aim to approach education differently from many of the places where I have been. LEAF’s emphasis on character was especially important to me.

  • Why is the emphasis on character in education so important for you?

Too often students and schools seem to get caught up in focusing on test scores and university acceptances. More important to me is an education which will prepare students to lead successful, fulfilling lives and shape our world for the better.

If we hope to change the future we need young people with the strength and fortitude to tackle difficult ethical issues, the desire to engage with the world around them, and the ability and skills to turn big dreams into reality. Character encompasses this holistic approach to education and LEAF in particular aims incorporate character into the curriculum and student life in a very deliberate and innovative way.

  • Was it difficult to decide to move to Bratislava and to be part of LA?

Making the move to Bratislava was a little daunting to me at first and as with any significant change it takes some time to adjust. But I was really excited about the work that LEAF is doing and it seemed to be a once in a lifetime chance to help create something new and build a better future and so I felt that I just had to take a leap of faith and come.

Leaf Academy Bratislava

  • Now you are here, at LEAF Academy. How has LEAF Academy influenced you and your perspective?

I’m not sure I have a good answer to this yet. However, it’s wonderful to be part of a community where everyone is passionate about their work and each brings different experiences and perspectives.

Thank you, Laurel, for your answers!

If you want to learn more about our team, look at this page.

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