CN FirstGradeOn Wednesday, April 26, Nueva first graders invited their Community Partners to a luncheon on the Lower School Ballet Lawn. Earlier in the day, the kitchen was full of excitement as students prepared lunches for the adult they’d been researching. As they worked, they talked about whom they chose. “I chose Azmi because my older brother chose him,” explained Dixon F., “and maybe in few years my younger brother will choose him too!”

A tradition that has lasted over a decade, the Community Partner Project aims to connect young students with various members of their school. In both classes, children began by writing down the names of Nueva’s workers whom they already knew. Seeing many gaps, teachers then scheduled school tours through all divisions, allowing children to meet new faculty and staff and learn about their contributions to our community. From the extended list, children then chose the person they wanted to work with for the remainder of the study.

Each year, students follow their theme to discover and address the needs of Nueva’s faculty and staff. Through the lens of design thinking and this year’s theme of urban planning, children observed, surveyed, and wrote letters to their new partners, tapping into a need that each one might have. From there, students brainstormed a wide variety of solutions; Too many people stopping you to talk? Try holding these red, yellow, and green signs to show people how available you are. Too much fog and traffic on your morning commute? Here’s a reverse fog machine to put on your new hang glider!

Over pretzels and sunbutter sandwiches, students shared their ideas and asked for their partners’ feedback. With new information, they made modifications and extensions to their plans, some of which have been proactively prototyped! A study that sparks such interest and engagement in so many members of the school community will hopefully continue for decades to come. As teacher Emily Mitchell explains, “The bonds that form now do last forever, and the faculty chosen feel so happy and valued at the end!”


First graders Fiona F., Dixon F., and Ravi K. prepare lunch for their Community Partners.
Kota N., Mac N., and Lexie S. spread sunbutter and jelly on their partners’ sandwiches.
Students share their lunches and design thinking projects with their Community Partners.
Inside, Kota N. shares his campus transit plans for escalators, elevators, and gondolas with his partner, Debbie Taylor.
Students and faculty fill the Ballet Lawn with conversation, connections, and collaboration.
Associate Director of Admissions Kim Overton shares lunch with her partner, first grader Zoe G.
Brooke H. shares her lunch and research project with Science teacher Lelia Youn.
Lower School Director Emily Johnson enjoys reading a story with her partner, Mac N.
Students take a shot at the basket — and at connecting with Second Grade Teacher Damon Allswang.
Middle School Math Teacher Lissie McAlvey builds connections with her partner, Ellie K.
Felix L. makes adjustments to his design thinking project after gaining more information about his partner.
Librarian Marilyn Kimura shares her lunch and insights with students Kyle S., Miles W., and Deion H.


 May 5, 2017



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