Nueva welcomed the students and families of its inaugural high school class at an evening reception and dinner on April 16, which was a historic moment for The Nueva School -- one that has been considered, dreamed about, and imagined for more than 20 years!
After more than four years of diligent research and planning, site visits to model programs across the country, land acquisition, leadership and faculty hiring, and one of the most inspirational admissions seasons in Nueva's history, we have now officially welcomed the incoming class of 77 registered students who will begin grade 9 in August.
During the welcome reception, the energy in the I-Lab and Café was simply electric. Families, students, and teachers shared their excitement with each other as they gathered together, enjoyed the first of many community dinners, and heard from our school leadership and Co-Chair of the Board, Dennis Wong, about this momentous class and what this time means for our community and its future.
With 50 percent boys and 50 percent girls and approximately half of the incoming class rising from Nueva's current eighth grade and the other half from 26 schools across the Bay Area and beyond, the incoming class has far exceeded our school's expectations for success. We have students and families coming to Nueva from across the United States and internationally, some of whom are relocating to the Bay Area for the opportunity to attend Nueva.
This fall, our students will be ready to hit the ground running as they continue to "learn by doing and learn by caring" with an Outward Bound trip in August. In the spring, the class will travel to Peru for a world history trip. Through a Science of Mind strand, we will extend our SEL traditions in age-appropriate ways as older students begin to prepare for even greater independence and we will retain our commitment to health and wellness at the core of the new division focused on students first. The science strands will include three years of college credit in two years of school to free our students to explore more in-depth science electives and complete primary research during junior and senior years. The humanities program will include interdisciplinary work with global perspectives, language immersion, and a deep focus on writing.
It is only with our community spirit of Yes, and... as well as the unbelievable dedication of our parent volunteers, commitment and wisdom from our trustees and advisors, and the philanthropic leadership of our visionary donors that this dream has become a reality. The success of our expansion has a positive, direct, and immediate impact on each and every grade today.
Here are few quotes from our incoming students that were featured on welcome boards as our inaugural grade nine class introduced themselves to each other and the community.
"Having great student-teacher relationships builds a love of learning that is evident in the middle school and I hope will carry on to The Nueva High School. I do not want to be bored in high school, I want school to be challenging and engaging. At The Nueva High School, I will go to school because I want to, not because I have to."
—Continuing Nueva Student
"To me, the most interesting aspect of the new Nueva high school is the opportunity to learn through projects and activities instead of a completely standard curriculum with limited classes and lots of tests and lectures."
—Incoming Nueva Student
"Nueva offers some outstanding prospects to lead, serve, and collaborate in the modern world. I am really looking forward to an original, unique, and innovative 21st century learning experience."
—Incoming Nueva Student
An April edition of the Financial Times Weekend Magazine included a story about Nueva's recent Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Fair (STEM Fair) and the school community's entrepreneurial spirit.
FT described the STEM extravaganza as "a science fair on steroids," and highlighted the giant sandwich-making machine, which used sunbutter not peanut butter in keeping with our nut-free campus. The profile also highlighted the I-Lab, robotics, and the extensive dedication and professional contributions of our school's parent volunteers. Here is an excerpt from the end of the story regarding the entrepreneurship elective:
The school even started its own entrepreneurship class, with the help of one of the dads, Steve Vassallo, a partner at Foundation Capital. Nine-, 10- and 11-year-olds work in groups to write a business plan, then present it to a panel of bona fide venture capitalists in seven-minute pitches, PowerPoints included.
"Some of the best presentations were as good as the best I've seen at business schools," Vassallo said, remembering one social venture for a remote appendectomy kit for the developing world, and a business idea for a three-in-one premium shower head. "I have this conviction that we're naturally entrepreneurial and kids who start early are not afraid of the things that are required to start a business, he added.
-- Financial Times, April 5
To read the full story, click here and scroll down until you see the paper airplane.
A significant part of why Kim Saxe -- Nueva's K-12 Innovation Lab Director –- loves her job is the perpetual opportunity to foster students' creativity while helping them think critically about how and where they get their best ideas. Kim revealed these and other details about her teaching and Nueva's integrated design thinking program during a recent interview with KQED, which tapped her expertise to illustrate how schools implement design thinking.
"It's really a way to make people more effective and to supercharge their innate capabilities," Kim said in the interview.
After setting out the basics of design thinking and providing specific examples of projects at Nueva, the KQED education blog relayed how the tenets benefit students intellectually.
"The projects teach students how to make a stable product, use tools, think about the needs of another, solve challenges, overcome setbacks and stay motivated on a long-term problem," the blog states. "The projects also teach students to build on the ideas of others, vet sources, generate questions, deeply analyze topics, and think creatively and analytically. Many of those same qualities are goals of the Common Core State Standards, Saxe said. 'Design thinking weaves together a lot of the standards that need to be taught in ways that people will really need to use them,' Saxe said."
The blog also highlighted Kim's customized brainstorming technique that she uses in her classes.
"Saxe has developed a strategy for pulling lots of great ideas from her students, but it runs contrary to the group brainstorming method that many entrepreneurs embrace," the blog states. "Instead, students spread out to a quiet, comfortable space for solo-brainstorming. When they come back into groups each student shares her favorite idea and the group builds on that idea. Then each student shares her wildest idea. 'Innovation often comes from some seed of an idea that's tucked into a wild idea,' Saxe said. The group can help tease out what works and what doesn't."
You can read Kim's entire interview here.
Nueva Middle School students in grade 8 Spanish and the Jazz and Blues Elective were treated to a special visit from Cuban musician Ernesto Oviedo in March. Thanks to a collaboration between Spanish teacher Bibi Millet and Music teacher Jim Munzenrider -- who met Ernesto in Cuba last summer -- the Havana native spoke about the history of jazz and his life in Cuba (before and after the Revolution). Ernesto and the students also sang and played music together.
Ernesto's visit to Nueva was part of his first trip to the United States! He spoke to the classes in Spanish, and Jim's longtime friend and Cuba-travel companion Eddie Fernandez translated for the students in the Jazz and Blues elective. The Spanish-class students used their language skills to understand Ernesto and asked questions in Spanish, including:
• Did the Cuban Revolution affect the Santeria religion?
• How many Cubans follow the Santeria religion?
• How does Cuba differ from the United States?
The special class culminated in song and music. Ernesto sung a song with roots in the Santeria religion, a chant to the deity Ochún. Students also played drums and spontaneously sang Guantanamera while Ernesto played the maracas. The morning was capped with a student sharing a bit of the American culture by singing Respect. You can see a video of Ernesto performing here.
The Nueva School, a nationally recognized independent school, recently closed escrow on 2.76 acres at Bay Meadows, California's largest Transit Oriented Development (TOD). The Nueva School is launching a new high school to complement its existing preK-8th grade campus in Hillsborough.
The school received Site Plan and Architectural Review (SPAR) approval from the City of San Mateo Planning Commission on December 11, 2012. Designed by architectural firm Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, the high school will be adjacent to the new 12-acre public park on the northern side of the Bay Meadows development. The Nueva School expects to open the Bay Meadows campus in fall 2014. The high school will commence operations this fall in temporary facilities at the College of San Mateo.
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