Nueva is the place where gifted learners are empowered to fly as far and wide as their talents and passions can carry them.

Experts in Gifted Education

Since its founding in 1967, Nueva has set the standard for facilitating the growth and development of gifted learners. For over 50 years, we have pioneered new methods, continually evolved our practice, and collaborated widely with others in the field.

What is giftedness?

Gifted learners are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of academic aptitude (an exceptional ability to reason and learn), intellectual engagement, and curiosity. They often display unusual talent in other domains, such as athletics, music, dance, or the arts.

While no two students are the same, research shows that gifted students share common characteristics and behaviors.

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The Nueva Way

The Nueva Way brings interdisciplinary learning to students, fully integrating their education with their observations of the world. Teacher partnerships and collaboration across subject areas provide rich assignments where students learn in layered, interdependent, and complex ways. Nueva faculty prepare our students to be problem solvers today, facilitating learning opportunities that tackle complex, meaningful issues. They blur the lines between the world and the classroom.

We teach to the stage, not the age, of each student. This personalized approach results in stimulating learning experiences, driven by our students’ curiosity. Nueva students learn by doing. They construct knowledge through hands-on engagement. As experts in project-based learning, teachers guide authentic, purposeful investigations that enable discovery while building the skills students need to be successful.

Student choice is woven into all of their learning. Their interests guide their studies, sparking authentic questions, deep investment, and joy in learning. They have a voice in choosing themes, topics, activities, clubs, and much more, as classroom and community citizens. This personalized approach results in stimulating learning experiences, driven by our students’ curiosity.

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Project-Based Learning

Nueva puts an emphasis on Design Thinking and social-emotional learning through project-based learning. From launching experiments for the International Space Station to analyzing text through machine learning, and everything in between, projects allow students to dive deep into a practical application of their studies. Whether it's for core courses, academies, electives, Quest, or Recital Projects, project-based learning is at the core of every Nueva education.

Semester and yearlong culminations allow students to not only share their work but also to see what their peers have been working on. Instead of sitting for exams, students explore and apply content in a meaningful manner.

Interdisciplinary Curriculum

At Nueva, teachers create projects and activities that are interconnected through multiple classes.

An example of this interconnected curriculum is the sustainable living project; students are given the task of designing and building a model of a house set in a foreign country. Sixth-graders discover how to implement sustainable living features in science class, create a comprehensive budget in math class and research the culture and common house types of international locations in world language class. Through this single project, sixth-graders also practice Design Thinking and Social Emotional Learning. This is a more real-world approach that prepares students for an environment that has less separated classes and more cohesive projects or all-inclusive tasks.

Real-World Experiences

The Nueva experience provides a constructivist education program that revolves around dynamic exploration of class themes and project-based learning. We offer a negotiated curriculum; students and teachers collectively define the course materials and lesson trajectory. Learning is cemented through projects and culminations.

By replacing tests and exams with project-based learning, students learn curricula beyond memorizing for the sake of a test and instead apply their knowledge and problem-solving skills in dynamic, real-world scenarios — beyond the classroom.

Collaborative Environment

At Nueva, collaborative learning is a core part of everything we do. Whether it's running a farmers' market, winning robotics awards, or working together to solve real-world problems, Nueva students apply social-emotional skills in innumerable ways.

Every classroom becomes a space for discussion and collaboration, where students learn with and from each other. Classes are small — often less than a dozen students — and discussion-based. Teachers and students contribute to the conversation unabashedly, united by a drive to learn.


Social-Emotional Learning

We believe that EQ matters as much as IQ. Nueva’s internationally recognized social-emotional learning program has been fundamental to our commitment to nurture the whole child since the school’s inception in 1967. Our values of care for self, care for others, and care for the community are the foundation of our culture.

We formally teach SEL skills at every grade level beginning in prekindergarten, with curriculum evolving in an age-appropriate way. And with all teachers trained in SEL, best practices are embedded everywhere, in and out of the classroom. Each community member develops their EQ, evident in how they see themselves and interact with others.

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Design Thinking

A process for creative problem-solving, Design thinking is a pillar of Nueva's learning approach. It draws on the humanities for empathy and ethnography; the arts and engineering for idea generation and invention; and the sciences for hypothesis creation, prototyping, testing, and reflection. Students develop the mindset to identify situations where they can better the world, and Design Thinking gives them the tools and resolve to take action.

Nueva partnered with IDEO and Stanford’s d.School to develop the first Design Thinking program and Innovation Lab (I-Lab) specifically for PreK–12 education. Students engage in design thinking across the curriculum daily—in our two dedicated I-Labs and in their classrooms.

Learn More Visit the I-Labs







Global Citizenship

We want all Nueva students to become global citizens who will positively and profoundly impact the world. We encourage them to ask big questions — and to use Design Thinking skills to identify situations where they can make positive changes and develop the tools to take action.

School trips, from nearby California wilderness to countries around the world, provide immersive and inspiring learning experiences. Community service learning is woven into the curriculum and given special focus through service learning days and other projects and events.

Through our cross-disciplinary focus on environmental learning, we’re developing strong leaders who will build a more sustainable future.

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The Nueva Glossary

Please use our glossary to learn more about our programs.

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