It’s one word that many of us use in some form in our vocabulary throughout the day. Yet, what does the word actually mean? Or better yet, where does it come from? These are the types of questions Nueva students reflected on and tried to answer under the direction of instructor Dr. Pete Bowers.petebowersvisit

Dr. Bowers has been a resource to Nueva teachers over the last two years on structured word inquiry, a new approach to literacy instruction. The premise of this approach is that, while most of us were taught that English spelling is highly irregular and full of exceptions to be memorized, it is actually a highly ordered system filled with clues about meaning.

Following his presentation at the Innovative Learning Conference, Dr. Bowers spent an entire week in the classrooms of Nueva’s Hillsborough campus working with students on structured word inquiry.

“I believe that work we've begun doing with structured word inquiry is profound and revolutionary. I believe that it is relevant to educators who work in every discipline and with all age groups. I believe that it represents most accurately what we know about teaching and learning and enacts the core values held in our community. I am inspired about the learning we've started to do together, and I'm eager to hear how this work has already impacted the teaching in our classrooms,” noted Lower School Head Emily Kolatch in a reflection to faculty.

In conjunction with Emily Mitchell's grade 1 class, Nueva student questions for Dr. Bowers even helped to move the field of word study science forward after students began to question and compare homographs, words that share spelling and may or may not share meaning, prompting Pete to define what he now calls homographic, words that share spelling and meaning.

During his time with grade 4, students worked on using etymological references to find the root to words such as “human.” Using their critical thinking skills, students investigated the root and whether there was a historical connection between "human" and "humane." Unable to confirm data to support their hypotheses in the class, Dr. Bowers called on the author of Real Spelling, a comprehensive work on how English spelling actually works. Through much investigation, he and the students concluded “humus” is actually the root word and the two words (human and humane) are in fact connected!

“Through these lessons, students raise all these questions that I’ve thought of but haven’t yet resolved,” Dr. Bowers said. This is such a great work of science, he added.

Dr. Bowers has traveled across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia teaching people, educators, and students about structured word study.

"I have never been to a school that has moved this far in one year in their understanding and application of these concepts in the classroom than at Nueva," Pete said, adding that he believes Nueva's already ingrained processes for critical thinking and investigation have helped their students and teachers embrace this new science more rapidly than most.

To explore examples of his work, please visit or the resource in which he built his understanding of structured word inquiry,



Nueva’s Hillsborough campus was alive with spooky spirits, creative costumes, and all types of memorable make believe in celebration of Halloween on Thursday, October 31.NuevaHalloween

The day began with the Middle School hosting fun and festive activities for the Lower School students to experience.  Upper School students served as ambassadors for the Lower School, helping small groups of students navigate the Middle School offerings. The morning events then culminated with all divisions joining together at 10 am to participate in the Halloween Parade in the GCC.


A student in Jim Munzenrider’s Roots of Rhythm class works with Lali – a master teacher and revered performer throughout lalivisitHavana’s musical community who specializes in Folkloric Cuban rhythms such as Rumba, Danzon, Comparsa, and Bolero.

A native of Cuba, Lali was able to communicate to students through their instruments, noting how a tempo or rhythm would change by playing on his bongo drums. To culminate and celebrate his teaching, Lali participated in a special student performance at the school assembly on Friday, October 11.

For students of The Nueva School, the dream of continuing their education from the Middle School division tnextwave2o the Upper School Division starts early. This was the moment shared between Head of School Diane Rosenberg and one young student who, during the Next Wave Celebration on September 27, shared his personal dreams of graduating from Nueva's new Upper School that he saw for the first time rising from the ground during the start of construction.

When a group of third grade Nueva students learned last year that the city of Fresno was ranked as one of the lowest cities to offer parks and recreation to its community members, they decided it was time to take action.grade4fresnomeeting

They took on the city of Fresno as part of a SEL project involving community service and interviewed an expert familiar with parks and children’s sports to understand the needs of the community. Then, through a student-run farmer’s market held on the Nueva Hillsborough campus, they collected money to help fund park upgrades and purchase needed equipment like soccer balls and basketball nets.  

What resulted was a personal thank you and recognition from the Fresno City Council on Thursday, September 26. Students, who are now in fourth grade, were brought before council members via Skype and thanked for their efforts. The council also formally adopted a resolution to appropriate all $100 donated by the Nueva students toward park improvements.

“We couldn’t have done this project without the help of our entire class,” one Nueva student noted while speaking to the council.



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Hillsborough, CA 94010





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