Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion
Our Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion program inspires us to build a beloved community that is courageous, self-reflective, and intentional in its pursuit of social justice, equity, and inclusion.
The program builds upon Nueva’s focus on both Social-Emotional Learning and Design Thinking by fostering empathy, encouraging innovative solutions, and promoting critical thinking skills. All three programs are rooted in a belief that empathy is a crucial mindset and that reflection and action are two sides of the same coin.
Creating an inclusive culture where all people are welcomed, valued, empowered, and heard
Challenging systemic inequity and oppression by practicing empathy, understanding privilege, transforming conflict, and exploring creative solutions
Fostering a sense of hope, an impetus to act, and a firm belief that standing up for social justice and equity is both the responsible and just thing to do
We believe that diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of an enriching educational experience and that all students benefit from learning to value, engage with, and understand difference. We celebrate our community’s multiple and intersectional identities, and welcome a diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences. Accordingly, we believe our students will be equipped to become engaged citizens in our democracy and to participate and communicate effectively in our interdependent global community.
Finally, we believe that transformation is the ultimate aim of social justice and of education. In both arenas, the work often doesn’t reap immediate rewards and requires a profound faith in others. We know that our work at Nueva will be simultaneously rewarding and deeply challenging. Nevertheless, we believe that we are beholden to our students to build a better world. We do so by fostering a beloved community that openly acknowledges the ways in which all institutions, schools included, perpetuate inequality; and, in so doing, confronts this truth with the willingness and conviction to construct an entirely different system and world.
WE BELIEVE diversity and inclusion are essential to achieving our mission of educating gifted learners to make choices that will benefit the world.
WE ARE DEDICATED to building and sustaining a community that welcomes and celebrates diversity.
WE RECOGNIZE that cultivating an inclusive diverse community is a complex and ongoing process. We encourage and value honest conversations and believe they strengthen our community and enrich the experiences of our students, teachers, staff, and parents.
WE STRIVE to drive connection of efforts across the parent, student, and faculty communities, with the aim of cultural competency as a community.
We believe “learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom with all its limitations remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom."
Enacting Our Beliefs
We are committed to enacting our beliefs in a myriad of ways, understanding that people come to the work of social justice from many different backgrounds, experiences, and comfort levels. Part of our work is to help move students, faculty, staff, and community members forward in their understanding and support of issues of equity and inclusion. To that end, we offer:
- a range of educational and professional development opportunities
- a support program for historically underrepresented students
- a number of other related programming and events
Please read below for more details on our various offerings and efforts.
We are committed to ensuring that the themes and ideas of social justice and equity are present throughout our PreK–12 curriculum. We believe these ideas must be embedded authentically across divisions and disciplines to foster in-depth, self-reflective, and community-oriented conversations and learning. Experience examples of the ways this manifests in our Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School curricula.
Our Social Justice & Equity team teaches electives at the Middle School and Upper School to provide in-depth learning opportunities for those that are interested in pursuing them. Example courses include Demand the Impossible!: An Introduction to Activism, Conscious Fashion Design, Social Justice 101, and Shelter: Art as Awareness.
Tenth-grade students take a weekly course entitled Engaged Citizenship that enables them to critically and compassionately engage in their communities while furthering their understanding of power, inequity, diversity, and liberation. The class blends key features of social justice education and social-emotional learning in order to best prepare students for life, work, and citizenship in an increasingly diverse and global society. The class is a brave space where students learn to engage deeply with one another through dialogue, perspective-taking, listening, and building trust. The course fosters students’ ability and willingness to engage with others around complex issues and with themselves to create the kind of community and 21st century democracy we all seek.
As Nueva is a PreK–12 school, the effort to diversify our community continues to be a key priority. Diversity — socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, gender, and religious, among others — enriches our school and deepens our understanding of each other as human beings. To that end, the school seeks to provide support for all students and families as they join our community. The THRIVE Program specifically supports historically underrepresented students and families within the independent school community. Its aim is to increase the diversity of our community by making programmatic elements more easily accessible to families, clearly defining areas of support and onboarding, providing advocacy and mentoring to THRIVE students, and supporting students and families to make stronger connections within the community.
Throughout the year, we offer assemblies and school-wide events that promote empathy, perspective-taking, and thoughtful engagement with the issues of social justice, equity, and inclusion. Every year, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a full day of programming at the Upper School — themes have encompassed intersectionality, solidarity, and faith. In the Lower and Middle Schools, we host assemblies that speak to such diverse topics as Environmental Justice, Peace Day, LGBTQIA+ History Month, Black History Month, and Asian-American History Month. Finally, in both the Middle and Upper Schools, we run a series called “Everyone Has a Story to Tell” that highlights the varied, nuanced, and wonderful array of stories that are present within our own Nueva community. The series highlights the power of narrative to shift hearts and minds and reminds us to both be empathic and not make assumptions about another individual’s lived experience.
Students are active in social justice-themed clubs in both the Middle and Upper Schools. Clubs are initiated and led by students with a passion to bring specific topics to the community. Some of the clubs that students can join are the Gay Straight Alliance, Social Justice League, Immigrants’ Rights Club, Gender Learning Initiative, and the Asian Pacific American Club.
- External and internal speakers
- SOUL (Strengthening Our Understanding and Learning)
- Equity & Inclusion Institute
Teachers are the backbone of the school. For any significant change to happen in the realm of equity and inclusion, teachers must be on board and prepared to engage with students around these issues. Accordingly, we offer relevant professional development workshops. Topics include cultural competency, understanding gender, engaging in difficult conversations, talking to kids about race, racial identity development, and more. Taught by our Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion team, we also feature outside speakers such as Derrick Gay and Gender Spectrum.
SOUL is an intimate study group of educators joined by their common desire to deepen their teaching practice as it relates to social injustice and inequity through examination, collaboration, introspection, and dialogue. It provides teachers with an opportunity to evaluate their practice and curriculum through such theoretical lenses as critical race theory, postcolonial theory, queer theory, and critical pedagogy.
SOUL meets once monthly and typically involves responding to a given reading, group discussion, reflective writing, and sharing challenges and successes within one’s own teaching. We create a safe space for teachers to ask questions without fearing judgment, to explore and experiment with new pedagogies and ideas, to identify hidden biases and blind spots, and to foster a sense of shared purpose and vision as we consider our role as teachers in addressing the great injustices and inequities of our time.
Our teachers are encouraged to attend conferences and workshops related to social justice, equity, and inclusion. We send a cohort of faculty and students every year to the People of Color Conference, allowing our teachers a chance to connect, learn, and engage with other teachers invested in this kind of work. Teachers also attend the Creating Balance in an Unjust World STEM Conference, the Teachers for Social Justice Conference, and the Othering & Belonging Conference.
The Equity and Inclusion Institute is a supportive and brave space for educators that provides 1) foundational knowledge around issues of social justice and equity that will inform their teaching practice, 2) concrete strategies and tools for implementing a social justice educational model within their classroom and pedagogy, and 3) a learning space for educators to explore their own identities, biases, and processes in this realm.
Institute goals are to promote personal and pedagogical growth, encourage innovative approaches to implementing equity-minded education, and embolden educators to seek discomfort and to disrupt the status quo in the service of creating transformational change.
We offer a parent education workshop series called “Issues that Come Home,” to support parents in navigating challenging conversations that come home or that arise due to current events and other issues, both global and local. The workshops provide concrete strategies and ideas for approaching often charged topics in developmentally appropriate ways.
In these uncertain times, Nueva students are the tides of change, leading the next generation to be kinder than the one before. On Monday, February 5, dozens of lower school students raised their colorful, handmade signs in a Kindness March to spread love and compassion around Nueva.
Using bright, cheerful, easy-to-use materials that they designed, Jenna Leonardo and Katie Kirsch, co-founders of Girls Driving for a Difference, inspired and guided participants to identify their strengths and abilities, discover their leadership styles and craft their own personal mission statements for changing the world.