All News

Legacy Interview: Judee Brasesco and the Nueva Family
Shannon Lyons
Judee Brasesco and her two grandsons

Judee Brasesco has the unique perspective of seeing how Nueva shaped two generations of students in her family. When she learned about the Nueva School in the 1970s, she had two school-aged children, Jill Brasesco Thomsen (’77 sixth-grade graduate) and J.D. Brasesco (’80 sixth-grade graduate). Last spring, Judee’s oldest grandsons, Scott Brasesco ’18 and Chip Thomsen ’18, graduated from Nueva, and her youngest grandson, Jack B., is now an eleventh grader at Nueva.  

The Brasesco-Thomsen family also has the honor of being Nueva’s first legacy family. Jill explains, “When Chip was admitted to Nueva in 2004 for pre-k, we were told that he was the first child of an alumni to be admitted. This was the beginning of our multi-generation tradition at Nueva.  It has been so fun for JD and me to re-live our Nueva experience through our kids.”

When Jill and J.D. transferred to Nueva from their previous schools, they immediately felt at home. “Home” is how Judee describes Nueva: “You have to understand that when you come to Nueva, it is like joining a big family,” she said. “Everyone cares. The faculty cares, the administration cares, and the families care.”

Judee believes the years her children spent at Nueva helped shape who they are today. “Nueva taught my children to be very creative,” Judee said. She has seen this same creativity in her three grandsons too. In addition to her grandsons’ love of art, writing, and drama, Judee feels Nueva is teaching students exactly what they need to be successful once they graduate from Nueva: strong writing skills, the confidence to talk with their teachers, the willingness to take risks, their commitment to be involved in their community, and, most importantly, kindness.

“Nueva filters for nice kids” Judee said. “The kids at Nueva are not competitive. They’re rooting for one another—knowing they can all be successful.”

Judee admires all the components of a Nueva education, but she has a special affinity for social-emotional learning (SEL). “It’s just genius!” Judee said. “SEL classes, Intersession, and of course, the teachers, are three aspects of the school that are unlike anywhere else.” Judee’s grandson, Chip Thomsen ’18, had computer science teacher Jen Selby for all four years of high school. “I am so grateful for her, for her programming skills, and how she inspired Chip’s love of computers,” Judee said. “And Jim [Munzenrider, Middle and Upper School Music Teacher] and the [Nueva Steel Drum] band! All three of the boys were in the band. One of them couldn’t fit it into his schedule, and he was so upset about taking a break from it for one semester.”

Judee is incredibly close with her grandsons. She frequently texts with the two in college, and she has regular visits from Jack, who stops by her house on his bike ride home from school. “I’ve witnessed Nueva give all my kids such a love of learning that brings them joy in their lives. Nueva has had a wonderful and profound effect on our whole family… This is the best school ever!”



Read More

Alumni Lee Holtzman poses with a lemur

“My years at Nueva were the best three years of my intellectual life,” upper school teacher and eighth-grade class of 2001 alum Lee Holtzman said. “Ever since I left Nueva, it was always the biggest part of me. Which is odd because I was only here for three years.” After only one week at the school, Lee identified the need for Nueva to expand from a PreK–8 school to PreK–12. “The end of my first week at Nueva (I started in sixth grade, so I was eleven), I went into the Head of School’s office, sat down, and said ‘You need to start a high school, because I need to go there!’”

Judee Brasesco and her two grandsons

Judee Brasesco has the unique perspective of seeing how Nueva shaped two generations of students in her family. When she learned about the Nueva School in the 1970s, she had two school-aged children, Jill Brasesco Thomsen (’77 sixth-grade graduate) and J.D. Brasesco (’80 sixth-grade graduate). Last spring, Judee’s oldest grandsons, Scott Brasesco ’18 and Chip Thomsen ’18, graduated from Nueva, and her youngest grandson, Jack B., is now an eleventh grader at Nueva.  

 Andrew Lam and his parents in a city

When Andrew Lam (eighth grade,’01) visited the Upper School with his father last year, he was thrilled to see learning in progress. “There was stuff all over the floor,” he said. “An intentional mess of art and science projects where kids were learning and exploring.” He was happy to see that the culture of exploration and the freedom to make and learn from mistakes were still part of the school he loved so much.

Fun graphic, "May the task force be with you"

The Bridge Experience Task Force

Mission

1) To explore the idea of a Nueva Gap Year Program.

2) The task force determined that Nueva is well positioned to provide graduates with a unique gap year experience, and the task force was charged with defining and launching the program.

Three students from the Class of 2018 meet with Diane Rosenberg

"As you embark on your journey from here, I just wanted to warn you: you may end up back here.”

Lee Holtzman — upper school history of science teacher and Nueva alum — shared these opening remarks as she welcomed the Class of 2018 at their first official alumni gathering earlier this month. Just two days after graduates flipped their tassels and tossed their caps, they gathered at the upper school for a brunch to embrace their new official status as Nueva alums.

A Jane of All Trades

What do a wedding officiant, violinist, actor, stunt performer, stunt-coordinator, singer/songwriter, and audio book narrator have in common? They are all means of employment for New Orleans resident and Nueva alumna Olga Munding ’86. She also publishes the occasional short story and in the future hopes to complete a book on the time she spent with blues legend Jessie Mae Hemphill. 

The Walking Dead Editor Got His Start at Nueva

For the past six years, Nueva alum Dan Liu ’96 has been an editor for the award-winning AMC television show The Walking Dead. Dan got his start by editing the concept trailer for Da Vinci's Demons with an editor of The Walking Dead, who then brought Dan on as his assistant editor for Season 2. He has been a full editor for several seasons now.

Designing Philz Coffee Shops

Among the many moments Heather Keane Leonard ’98 remembers from her days at The Nueva School, the most vivid are the times she spent outside exploring the natural beauty of Nueva’s Hillsborough campus. Whether she was studying the shallow root systems of redwoods, playing the xylophone under the willow tree, eating miner’s lettuce along the Crocker Road fire trail, learning about Native Americans, or acting out Billy Goats Gruff on the “Billy Goat Bridge,” Heather understood that the outdoors were not only her playground at Nueva but also her principal classroom.

Rapping for Social Change

Through his organization Rap Force Academy, Nueva alumnus Rahman Jamaal ’96 has been pioneering Hip Hop education for the last fifteen years, since he first encountered the educational nonprofit Hip Hop Congress. He helps people improve their communication skills through writing and performing rap songs in workshops designed to enhance a person’s self-expression and awareness. Students build their artistic creativity by playing with words and trying out their own voice as they develop their musical prowess and employ nuances of sound to write a rap.