This spring, members of the Nueva community traveled to Austin, Texas, to present at the ninth annual SXSW Edu® Conference & Festival. From student-designed inventions to innovative curriculum, our presenters showcased the success of Nueva’s Design Thinking program.
The Nueva Upper School reinvents the high school experience as four years of inquiry-based learning, collaboration, and self-discovery.
A Nueva education develops creative, resilient, thoughtful leaders and collaborators who are ready to solve problems and have an impact on the world.
The Nueva Way at the Upper School
At the Nueva Upper School, the students’ experience — their courses, interests, and passions — is at the center of everything we do. We nourish their love of learning by providing each student unparalleled opportunity to chart their own pathway through high school. With support from advisors, students select from more than 100 electives that satisfy graduation requirements and allow them to dive deeply into exciting subjects.
Embracing the interconnectivity of the world, teachers build courses with global relevance and connections across academic disciplines. Assignments center around authentic, real-world challenges, and are flexibly structured to allow students to be creative and incorporate their personal interests. Surrounded by a community dedicated to intellectual pursuits, collaborative projects are dynamic and thought-provoking. From examining historical trends through unique lenses to writing code for mathematical processes, Nueva students are capable, adaptable, interdisciplinary thinkers.
Nueva Quest, the in-depth pursuit of a field of study during each year of Upper School, is another way students are empowered to follow their boundless curiosity. Students are mentored by experts, feel the joy of creating something from nothing or delving into an area of interest, and practice Design Thinking skills that will serve them well into the future.
Opportunities for personal growth, collaboration, and exploration abound beyond the classroom as students participate in extensive co- and extracurricular opportunities. Advisories, activities and clubs, rich arts offerings, and athletic programs are an important part of every student’s Nueva experience.
"Nueva has been incorporated into my vocabulary not just as a proper noun, but also as an adjective. It refers to both a community and a worldview — unbridled intellectual energy, an ardent desire for knowledge, and endless efforts to achieve it."
Our Culture of Kindness
Nueva’s 50-year history of social-emotional learning (SEL) and commitment to developing students’ social and emotional acuity play an essential role in the learning atmosphere of trust, community, and inclusion at the Upper School. Nueva’s environment of caring and layered system of support ensures each student feels truly seen, heard, cared for, and valued. With formal training in SEL, faculty make themselves available for questions and conversation, supporting students in self-reflection, observation, inquiry, and the development of attitudes, behaviors, and skills that will serve them and their communities well into adulthood.
Each year during pre-term, the Upper School community welcomes and integrates new and returning students through grade-specific fall orientation trips. These camping retreats in the California wilderness give students time and space to build relationships with faculty and classmates, and give them shared experiences to bring back to campus.
Design Thinking and Engineering
Nueva’s Upper School students quickly become adept at Design Thinking process, practices, and mindset. Extensive offerings in Design Thinking, engineering, computer science build skills through human-centered design challenges, ensuring all students have hands-on experience with the Design Thinking process and the ability to use computational thinking and problem-solving. Students also become confident, safe, and responsible at creating with the vast array of tools available in the I-Lab.
A wide array of electives enables students to dive deeply. Examples include Design Engineering for Social Good, Machine Learning, Engineering and Fabrication Workshop, and many more, all of which are taught using the Nueva Way philosophy emphasizing real-world context for learning.
Across the classes, students identify needs, prototype, obtain feedback, and create and test solutions, while gaining both knowledge and skills along the way. With experience, students have ready access to the Design Thinking tools: it ceases to be “a process” and becomes the way they think. They are empowered changemakers, prepared for a future where resilience is key and translating ideas into reality is essential.
We prepare Nueva students to succeed in their interconnected world. They are encouraged to use Design Thinking skills to learn about the world through active participation, identifying situations where they can make positive changes and developing the personal and collaborative tools to take action. Students bring their SEL skills to bear as they engage with different cultures and diverse perspectives.
School trips, from nearby Oakland to countries around the world, provide immersive, inspiring learning experiences. Community service learning is woven into the curriculum and given special focus through service learning days, projects, and events.
Through our cross-disciplinary focus on environmental learning, we’re developing strong leaders who will build a more sustainable future.
The Nueva Internship Program places our twelfth-grade students in one- to twelve-week engagements with more than 50 different Bay Area organizations spanning the fields of technology, research, politics, medicine, publishing, fine arts, and more.
We believe that applying to college should be a personal journey to the best fit, not a process to fear. Nueva’s college counseling team works with all students, starting in their junior year, setting each on an individual path of self-reflection, dreaming, and strategic planning. We help students think about who they are, who they want to become, and map the best way to get there.
“Nueva’s Upper School winter varsity teams had their best season on record,” said Chris Wade, Interim PreK-12 Athletic Director.
On February 13, Nueva hosted a living San Francisco legend and LGBTQ+ icon, Armistead Maupin, who visited two English classes, and spoke to the entire Upper School at an afternoon assembly.
Clarence B. Jones, the former personal counsel, advisor, draft speech writer, and close friend of Martin Luther King Jr., visited the Nueva Upper School campus on Tuesday, January 15 – what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 90th birthday – to share his life experience and inspire students and faculty. Dr. Jones assisted Dr. King in drafting the “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” and his iconic “I Have a Dream,” speech of 1963.
Graduation speaker Lucy W. posed this question to the audience at Nueva’s 2018 graduation ceremony, the culmination of a week of celebratory activities that began with the Lifer’s Dinner on Monday, June 4, and ended on Sunday, June 10, with commencement on Nueva’s Hillsborough campus. Lucy’s reference to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was also an allusion to one of the seminal readings in Nueva’s ninth-grade English curriculum, a reading experience shared by nearly all graduating students.
“Creating the Future,” theTEDxYouth@TheNuevaSchool event, was held at Bay Meadows on Sunday, March 25. Six presenters shared perspectives on the future of medicine, big data, healthcare, artificial intelligence, astrophysics, and animal rights with approximately 75 attendees.
At Nueva, when students see a problem or a need, they invent a solution. Now in its second year, Invention Studio began as an outgrowth of I-Lab teacher Connie Liu's Design Engineering for Social Good course. It allows students to use design thinking and engineering skills to create empathy-based solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing our society today. Invention Studio is Nueva pedagogy at its best — student-centered learning that gives students the opportunity to use both design thinking and social-emotional learning skills in a real-life setting, to solve real-world issues.
In the fall of 2017, eight adventurous Nueva students enrolled in “Physics Research,” a new course created by Nueva Upper School founding faculty member Mark Hurwitz. Mark was inspired by his own first immersive experience in research when, as a college senior, his electrical engineering professor recognized Mark’s interests and offered him challenging problems to pursue
On Sunday, March 18, nearly 1,200 visitors traveled to Nueva's upper school campus for the annual STEM Fair. This year's program offerings included partnerships with the San Mateo Astronomical Society, Virtual Reality Experience, GoBabyGo!, and iD Tech Camps. From marble runs and human generated electricity to science raps and the amazing poster pavilion, there was something for everyone to enjoy.