A mother and her son were in crisis. The mom, who had immigrated to London from Nigeria in 2003, made a modest living as a teacher’s assistant. But in 2016 she fell ill with sickle cell anemia. “I couldn’t work, couldn’t pay the rent,” she recently told The Independent.
She was in the hospital when her teenage son was served with an eviction notice. Even though they were legal immigrants, they weren’t eligible for government assistance. They began sleeping on friends’ and relatives’ couches, moving from home to home.
But it was a crucial time in the son’s education: he was preparing for important exams that would help determine his prospects for college, and the continuing upheaval in his life made it hard for him to study. His future was in danger.
Fortunately, his school intervened and helped find the family a permanent home and government help. With a more stable life, the son ended up doing well on the exams, and last year he enrolled at the University of Nottingham, where he’s studying accounting. “If we hadn’t gotten help, I wouldn’t have been able to carry on living,” the mother said.
The school that helped make a difference is the Oasis Academy South Bank, located in a poor, sometimes violent London neighborhood just across the Thames River from Parliament and some of the city’s poshest neighborhoods. It’s a free private school that was founded eight years ago, serving boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 18—the British equivalent of a combined American middle and high school.
Oasis Academy South Bank is run by the Oasis Charitable Trust, an evangelical Christian charity that operates several dozen schools across the country, mostly in underserved neighborhoods like the South Bank school’s. According to The Times of London, one-third of its graduates go on to top universities—an impressive statistic anywhere, but especially in a neighborhood where too many kids at other schools join gangs and ultimately wind up in the criminal-justice system.
The principal, Anna Richardson, told The Times that the secret of her school’s success is that it is both “warm and strict,” supportive but demanding. With an emphasis on emotional well-being as well as learning, the school employs multiple therapists and social workers.
But Oasis Academy’s real secret seems to be its philosophy of helping students by helping their families, as it did for the sick mom and her son. The school runs a food bank to help families that don’t have enough to eat. It also has a fund to help families buy equipment students might need at home and even furniture—like extra beds, so kids don’t have to sleep in the same beds as their brothers and sisters. (A good night’s sleep is an important part of learning, as all readers of Air Mail Pilot surely know.)
“We are showing [our students] that there are adults who will have their back,” Richardson told The Times. That’s a good curriculum for anyone.
You’re right—your dog is jealous. Researchers at the University of Auckland (that’s in New Zealand) have put their heads together to prove what we’ve known all along to be true about our four-legged friends: that they can exhibit jealousy of other dogs, just like you can of other people.
Using a test group of 18 dogs and their owners, researchers devised an experiment to measure how the pets reacted to seeing their owners interact with what they perceived as another dog.
The dogs were leashed to a door frame that could measure how hard the animals pulled. In front of the dogs were placed a realistic-looking artificial dog, and a less realistic artificial dog—a simple cylinder wrapped in fleece.
The owners then entered and began to pet one of the objects. After a bit of this affection, a screen was placed between the owner with the object and the real dog. When the owner was hidden with the fake dog, the real dogs began to pull on their leash and exhibit jealous behaviors— growling, whining, and physical agitation. When the owners were hidden with the fleece cylinder, the dogs exhibited considerably less jealous behavior.
The results indicate that dogs are able to visualize what may be occurring between their owner and other dogs, that they don’t like the idea of their owners showing affection to other dogs, and that, yes, they can feel jealousy.
So, go pet your dog.