Upper School News

Dr. BJ Miller Joins Design Engineering for Social Good Class to Discuss Designing a Better Healthcare System

On Tuesday after lunch, Dr. BJ Miller joined US students in the Design Engineering for Social Good (DESG) class to discuss designing a better death. BJ Miller is a doctor and designer who focuses on redesigning end-of-life care. He is the founder of the Zen Hospice Project, which aims to bring dignity to the process of dying.

In a healthcare system that is originally designed to treat disease rather than people, it is often difficult to die in the way you want: surrounded by family, with choice, and feeling safe. These are the constraints of a complex system that Dr. Miller designs within, and there are many parallels with the challenges that the students in DESG face in their work as well. In DESG, students are designing for incredibly complex problems: facilitating better deaf-to-hearing communication, improving protest conditions, improving female safety on college campuses, and more.


Students shared the work they are doing and all talked about the question “When

do we feel the most alive?” Answers ranged from “when staring at the stars” to “when driving really fast in my car with the sunroof down,” and students talked about how they could incorporate in their designs ways to make their users “feel more alive.” By hearing how Dr. Miller made people feel more alive in death, students realized that making people feel more alive is not only something that should be present in death, but also throughout life.

BJ’s perspectives of the world as a triple amputee, art major, and doctor provided new insights for students to bring into their work as designers in this class and beyond.


 March 17, 2017

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Acts of Kindness Connect Upper School Community

"You are a motivator, a positive force, and an inspiration to us all. Thank you for setting the bar so high and for bringing such HOPE and deep empathy to this community.”

Imagine receiving this appreciation message . . . how would you feel? Valued? Appreciated? Loved? All of the above? The special sentiments above were written during Kindness Week, a tradition that Director of Social Justice and Equity Alegria Barclay started four years ago with the help of then Kindness Club President Anna Sandell ’18.

Upper School Students Explore the Ripple Effects of Dr. King's Legacy

On the morning of Thursday, Jan. 21, Nyle Fort spoke to upper school students about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, what it means to be an activist, and how young people can get involved in social movements. 

The organizer, minister, and scholar helped set the tone for the rest of the day’s programming, designed to explore Dr. King’s conception of justice and introduce Nueva students to young social justice activists. 

Catching Up with . . . the Peer Consulting Team

We recently interviewed Sean Schochet, upper school Science of Mind teacher, and the peer consulting team in the high school to hear about the warmth, friendship and support this outstanding group of young people offer Nueva high school and middle school students.

Catching Up with . . . Brian Cropper

Joyful and vigorous study is at the heart of the Nueva experience. We sat down with 12th grade dean, upper school history teacher, and Nueva alumnus ’05 Brian Cropper for a conversation about the inspiration for his newest class and his role as 12th grade dean. Brian also shares how his students and colleagues inspire him every day.

The Beauty and Joy of a Giant Six-foot Compass

One of the goals Andrew Alexander has for himself when he teaches his upper-school mathematics courses is to bring joy into the classroom. To launch the geometry unit in his Math 1 class, Andrew came up with a creative way to infuse joy and wonder into the learning: he constructed a six-foot tall compass and an accompanying 12-foot long straight edge.

The Power of Student Agency

The invitation for Wednesday’s roundtable event “Divestment: The Million Dollar Question” noted, “In response to student activism, the Nueva Endowment Committee is considering the divestment of its holdings in fossil fuel companies for the first time.”

This was very exciting news for students because for at least the past four-to-five years, the student-run Nueva Divestment Team has been working to convince the Nueva Endowment Committee of the need to divest. 

Ninth Graders Work to Create the Beloved Community

What does a community look like? What does it take to build a community and what are the difficulties that might arise? These questions serve as the foundation of the new curriculum in ninth-grade Science of Mind (SOM). Developed by Director of Social Justice and Equity Alegria Barclay, the revamped curriculum focuses on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Beloved Community. The course is very much about antiracism, Alegria said, and antiracism is woven into all aspects of the course.

Activist Kenan Moos Headlines First Event of Special Upper School Programming

A new addition to the upper school schedule this year is a block for special programming on Fridays. For the first in a series of special guest speakers, Dean of Student Life Hillary Freeman invited Black Lives Matter activist and local Bay Area native Kenan Moos to speak. In a conversation moderated by student council equity and inclusion rep Fiona T. ’22, Kenan shared not only his background and life experiences, but also how he became an activist and how Nueva students can step up to take action.