Peter Salovey, the current president of Yale University and an expert in the field of human emotion and health behavior, defined emotional intelligence as one's central force of self-regulation: "the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions." Nueva's founding vision, to challenge students to rise to their personal and intellectual best through awareness of themselves and others, has always been integral to teaching and learning here, promoting an atmosphere of trust for students, teachers, and staff colleagues. This emphasis on Social-Emotional Learning is a cornerstone of Nueva’s educational philosophy (see program overview).
In the Upper School, the Science of Mind program is where SEL is given shape, using a curriculum that adapts to meet the needs and concerns of high school students. In this four-year program, students learn foundational principles of psychology and neuroscience, bringing clarity to social-emotional best practices. For example, they learn why the “I Statements” they learned in the early grades are so effective in communications, and they are exposed to theories in psychology that give context to their teenage interactions with one another, parents and adults.
Through weekly classes, students learn social science theory and participate in time-tested, guided SEL activities such as Open Session, in which students can seek and receive peer feedback and support.
This program does not stand alone. Science of Mind reinforces the Advisory program, supports student groups like the Kindness Club, facilitates professional development for faculty, and offers parent educational opportunities. The reflexive nature of the class extends its reach, ensuring that the course’s objectives become part of the school’s daily culture and common language. Students are supported in their practices of self-reflection, observation, and inclusion, helping them develop attitudes and behaviors that will serve them and their communities well into adulthood.