Community service learning is integral throughout a Nueva education, woven into curricula and given special focus by service learning days, student council initiatives, guest speakers, Recital and Quest Projects, and Design Engineering & Service courses.
As part of its mission, Nueva values service learning as instrumental for community development and for experiential learning. As students learn by doing and learn by caring, they
• Cultivate an increased sense of self-efficacy by seeing they can impact real social challenges, problems, and needs.
• Enhance problem-solving skills and abilities to work in teams;
• Inspire in themselves and others civic engagement attitudes, and behaviors.
In Middle School, advisories participate in community service-learning trips about three times a year. Students volunteer in a variety of locations in San Francisco and in the greater Bay Area. Each student advisory decides as a group, which organization or project to support and then volunteers at a particular location.
Students have worked at the San Francisco Zoo to restore exhibits, clean, and work in the animal husbandry department. They have worked with Save the Bay to restore wetlands by planting native species, mulching, watering and cleaning up the shoreline. They've helped at Family Connections by assisting in a San Mateo preschool program for low-income families.
Student organizations and individual students work to support service organizations. For example, the council raised funds to support the School Fund, an organization that supports children in developing nations who can't afford to go to school by giving them the education they deserve. In Eighth Grade Recital Projects, students must include a community service component in their work, whether that entails raising funds for a worthy cause, developing an idea to improve the lives of others, or working directly with people in need.
In Upper School, students begin by developing a deeper understanding of self and our relationship with a myriad of local communities. Complementing the Design Engineering & Service course, the Community Engagement and Service Learning curriculum is intended to give students the tools needed to be authentic and effective changemakers. In the past year, they hosted a dinner for families who lost loved ones through homicide at the Old Skool Café and met with city planners on developing a community action plan focusing on the evolving community of Bay Meadows, the new site of our Upper School.
Through the Design Thinking, Engineering & Entrepreneurship courses, students are empowered to build upon their skills developed in Middle School. Students identify real world needs, generate ideas, create prototypes, solicit feedback, and invent business models to leverage these ideas in the world. These ideas are further expounded as part of their Nueva Quest Projects.
Beginning in ninth grade, students also take part in a two-year sequence that provides in-depth understanding of Community, Social Justice, Environmental Stewardship, and Advocacy and Leadership.
Community Service Learning initiatives, when sustained and successful, can help students to:
• Increase awareness about the inequity of access.
• Learn more about themselves through partnerships with others
• Develop a deep sense of empathy and understanding for our community and community members, believing that there is a common good.