The Nueva School began as the dream of Karen Stone McCown and grew from her conviction that each individual has a responsibility to make the world a better place. The daughter of two teachers, Karen decided in the early 1960s to make a significant contribution to education. Her initial investigations convinced her that much attention was being directed toward the developmentally disabled, the disadvantaged, underachievers, and those with learning disabilities, but little was being done for children at the other end of the spectrum: gifted and talented students.
For five years, Karen met with noted educators, Nobel laureates, psychologists, physicians, and people in business to investigate the needs of gifted children, the resources within schools, and the needs of society. Karen's investigations resulted in the establishment of Nueva in 1967. It opened in an old house and portable buildings in Menlo Park, with only kindergarten, first, and second grades. In 1971, Nueva moved to its present Lower and Middle School site, the former William W. Crocker Skyfarm mansion, on thirty-three acres in Hillsborough. Nueva currently serves more than eight hundred gifted and talented children in prekindergarten through twelfth grade. In fall 2013, Nueva welcomed its first class of grade 9 students to the College of San Mateo while it expanded into a high school designed to prepare students for life in the 21st century. The new high school campus at Bay Meadows in San Mateo opened in August 2014, and is now home to students grades 9 – 12.
Nueva has a staff of approximately two hundred, including teachers, associate teachers, interns, specialist teachers, division heads, the head of school and assistant head of school, directors of finance and operations, advancement, admissions, music and enrichment, administrative assistants; and other critical support personnel.
Nueva provides a strong academic curriculum, which emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving skills. The school also stresses affective education: helping students to develop self-esteem, take responsibility for their choices and behavior, and learn the skills necessary for cooperative problem-solving. In the years since it opened, Nueva has become a widely recognized leader in the field of education for the gifted. In 1987-88, 1996-97, and in 2010, Nueva received the United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon School award. Nueva hosts numerous outreach programs, including the Innovative Learning Conference, SEL Teacher Training Institute, and Design Thinking Institute. Its biannual Innovative Learning Conference draws over a thousand teachers, administrators, researchers, speakers, and parents from around the world.