Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) has always been integral to learning and teaching at Nueva, starting with our founding vision: to challenge students to rise to their personal and intellectual best through awareness of themselves and others. This emphasis on Social-Emotional Learning promotes an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect for students, faculty, and parents, and is a cornerstone of Nueva’s educational philosophy.
At the Upper School, SEL evolves into the Science of Mind (SOM) program. In weekly classes during this four-year program, teachers create lessons using research from the social sciences and neuroscience that bring clarity to social and emotional best practices.
Students learn practical skills to use in their daily lives. For example, they study the neuroscience of stress in order to understand how stress affects their bodies, then practice mindfulness techniques to reduce their own stress. Students also participate in time-tested, guided SEL activities, such as Open Session, in which they practice asking for and providing peer feedback and support in a collective problem-solving process.
Themes address the developmental needs of adolescents: personal values, interpersonal relationships, communication skills, stress management, mindfulness, self-care, mental health, wellness, healthy decision-making, increased independence, the role of technology in their lives, social justice issues, identity exploration, sexual health education, drug education, and more. Although the curriculum is specifically designed for high school students, the Science of Mind program maintains the hallmarks of its SEL roots, which permeate all aspects of the Upper School experience. Science of Mind complements rich Advisory, Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion, and Design Thinking programs; weekly grade and community meetings; community-focused student groups such as the Kindness Club; and the integration of related themes throughout the school’s other academic and extracurricular programs, such as the Global Citizenship, Quest, and Internship programs.
As with SEL in the Lower and Middle Schools, Science of Mind specialists adapt course content and support students responsively as needs arise, provide consultation to teachers, and hold educational events for parents on a variety of topics relevant to parenting teenagers.