When they learned that the environment would be the focus of the assembly, a trio of environmentally focused upper school students reached out to two San Mateo City Council candidates—Sarah Fields (running in District 3) and Adam Loraine (running in District 5)—to invite them to Nueva to talk about about environmental initiatives in the city of San Mateo.
Nueva’s environmental citizenship program helps students develop an empathetic bias toward action that is based on an understanding of the interconnected web of natural and human-made systems to which we all belong. It is a pillar of Nueva's learning approach and draws on the sciences, humanities, and arts to understand complex environmental challenges and develop students’ mindsets as empathetic, innovative, and resilient solutionaries.
Nueva’s commitment to environmental citizenship brings together the concepts of advocacy, compassion, and empowerment as we strive to take care of ourselves, others, and the world in which we live.
Environmental and outdoor education are foundational aspects of Nueva’s curriculum. Launched in 2019, the environmental citizenship builds on this tradition while allowing the school to advance its embrace of environmental awareness in its operations and in partnerships with other key educational programs and values, including design thinking, equity and social justice, global citizenship, and social emotional learning.
Students engage in environmental citizenship across divisions and throughout the curriculum. The environmental citizenship program equips students with robust knowledge, experiences, and mindsets that enable them to be proactive, empathetic and resilient citizens well-versed in systems thinking and problem solving.
The immersion in environmental citizenship at Nueva begins in pre-kindergarten, and students build on their skills throughout their years in the lower, middle, and upper schools.
Through a stage-appropriate curriculum that includes outdoor play and exploration, investigations in disciplines such as ecology, marine biology, and earth sciences; design thinking projects and study trips focused on environmental topics; and independent studies, the environmental citizenship program pursues the following overarching transfer goals:
- A mindset of environmental citizenship
- A proclivity towards nature
- Knowledge and use of systems thinking
- Ability to design and evaluate solutions
Science and Environmental Center
The new Science and Environmental Center on our Hillsborough campus opened its doors to students in preK through 12th grade in January 2021. This indoor-outdoor learning facility serves as a think tank, where students practice sustainability, conduct environmental and social studies, and debate solutions to a broad range of environmental challenges.
Watch the video below to take a look at the new SEC.
Environmental Citizenship Enduring Understandings
Through our program, students learn to balance a sense of urgency with a sense of optimism to positively engage with environmental challenges through innovation, advocacy, and making responsible decisions. They grow to be comfortable in nature and see it as a source of wonder, inspiration, community and personal growth, while also taking responsibility for the environmental impacts of their own behaviors. Furthermore, the language and approaches of systems thinking enables Nueva students to generate insight about complex human-environment interactions.
Students also apply design thinking as well as practices rooted in diversity, equity and inclusion to change-making in order to develop and participate in effective acts of environmental care/stewardship.
Examples of student opportunities to learn about and address issues from the local to the global and across all disciplines include reducing plastics waste in kindergarten, the Sustainable Living Project in sixth grade, the Silk Road and Global Systems investigations in seventh and eighth grade, and numerous elective courses in the Upper School.
IN THIS SECTION
The Nueva School Named a National Green Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education
In April 2021, Nueva was recognized by the United States Department of Education as a California Green Ribbon School and a ‘Green Achiever,’ an honor that recognizes Nueva as a National Green Ribbon School Only one private school per state is accorded this honor each year!
Head of School
"It is important to empower students to nurture the place in which they live and learn: their local neighborhood, regional environment, and global ecosystem. With increased awareness of devastating climate change and acknowledgement of the unsustainability of certain patterns within the human condition, environmental citizenship and the development of this mindset in schools are now core necessities in the educational process."
Environmental Citizenship News
To honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day, middle school students spent their grade-level time on Friday, Jan. 14 watching the PBS documentary, Soundtrack for a Revolution. This programming is part of a new Friday pilot program in the middle school designed to give students an opportunity to dive into both social justice topics and areas of deep interest.
A new middle school elective this fall challenged students to explore how they can take their learning outside.
A new middle school class is providing students with a hands-on, interdisciplinary learning experience rooted in nature.
Sixth-grade students, with the help of science teacher Cristina Veresan, investigated the wonders of the underwater world and the effect of the moon on the ocean in their elective, Between the Tides.
Last week, Nueva was recognized by the United States Department of Education as a California Green Ribbon School. Director of Environmental Citizenship Sarah Koning noted that Nueva students have been working hard on environmental issues all month.
I am thrilled to share that the Nueva School has been named a California Green Ribbon School in recognition our exemplary practices and achievements in three areas: resource efficiency, health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability education.
Over the past semester, students in English 10 have been immersed in a unit focused on eco-poetry. Throughout the year, teachers and students investigate a variety of issues brought on by colonialism, post-colonialism, and globalization.
“Poetry is political and subversive. It has the power to spark conversation, inspire change, and make a profound impact,” said Amber Carpenter, upper school English teacher.
We are delighted to welcome Nueva’s new Director of Environmental Citizenship Sarah Koning, who can’t wait to share her innovative ideas with the community. In the following Q&A, Sarah shares her enthusiasm and vision for the months ahead.
Kindergarten associate teacher Carrie Stouffer has been named Nueva’s first lower school environmental citizenship ambassador. The role of the environmental citizenship ambassador evolved from the school’s desire to build strong, responsive, and effective relationships with faculty and division heads in all three divisions.
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.
Eighth-grade biology students have dived straight into an exciting study of genetic variation. One of the major themes of eighth-grade science is to understand humanity’s relationship with the living world. So, the teachers asked their students to grow Wisconsin Fast Plants to discover for themselves why plants produce offspring with variation. This led to a discussion about how humanity has modified species for food and other purposes.
For environmental educators, the pandemic creates a unique opportunity to engage with students in real time and on multiple fronts. Teachers can bring their disciplinary lens to examining the environmental effects of the pandemic with questions such as “What are the changes, where do they occur, and how do we measure them?”
In the midst of the COVID-19 “new normal,” the popular Fireside Chat series has sparked many engaging discussions. Hillary Freeman, Jennifer Paull, Tanja Srebotnjak, Alegria Barclay, and Aron Walker took the lead a few months ago to provide the Nueva community with a relaxed forum to discuss some timely topics
In the spring of their seventh-grade year, students dive into a semester-long humanities study of nature. They explore nature and adventure, nature and connection, nature and commodification, and nature and activism.
In honor of Earth Day 2020, Alegria Barclay, Aron Walker, Patrick Berger, and Tanja Srebotnjak organized a roundtable: “The World Post Covid-19: Opportunities for Social Justice and Environmental Resilience.”
We are honored to announce that on Earth Day, April 22, Nueva was named a recipient of the 2020 California Green Ribbon Schools Gold award.
The Visible Learning Project aims to document learning for the Nueva community. It provides students, teachers, parents, and campus visitors with a dynamic, informative space to celebrate and reflect upon learning at Nueva.
Curriculum and community service learning came together for eighth graders' food systems field trips.
As December rolls around, the Middle and Upper School divisions celebrate a tradition that is core to our culture: culminations. These evening events showcase the depth and breadth of student work.
Meet Tanja Srebotnjak, Nueva’s first Director of Environmental Citizenship. How will her work support our future environmental stewards? Hear from Tanja herself! She describes what her new role and Nueva’s forthcoming environmental center will mean for our students.