NUEVA MAGAZINE2022SUMMER/SPRING Building Bridges Navigating the journey between what was and what will be
IN THIS ISSUE… 02 REFLECTION Letter from the Head of School 03 NOTED News from Nueva 42 ALUMNI News from alumni 52 POINTEXCLAMATION Students, families, faculty, and staff marched in the 2022 San Francisco Pride Parade. Class of 2022 Families and teachers came together to celebrate the commencement of the Class of 2022 and to welcome 114 new members into the Nueva Alumni Association. CelebrationEighth-Grade In a hundred words, eighth graders share what the Nueva 14 On AgainRoadthe For the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and faculty traveled the country. Here, they reflect on moments that stood out to them. 32 Founding Faculty Founding faculty of Nueva’s upper school reflect on their time at Nueva and the growth of the high school. 24 SPRING/SUMMER2022 ON THE COVER Building Bridges ILLUSTRATION BY ALEX NABAUM 16 Belonging on Our Bookshelves Tenth graders worked with lower school students to revise classic children’s books to be more inclusive and reflective of their values. 28 MadeBeing Whole How restorative justice practices at Nueva help to repair harm. 36 Q+As In July, Nueva welcomed new director of admissions Melanie León and new director of communications 40 Trailblazers Visionary spirit brings Nueva upper school dream to fruition. 18
NUEVA MAGAZINE02 REFLECTION
Accompanied by upper school history teacher Tom Dorrance and Director of Environmental Citizenship Sarah Koning, I had the personal pleasure of taking 17 students to Chicago for a week on one of seven 11th grade American Studies trips. To say these students engaged in curriculum-based learning, made interdisciplinary connections, and navigated novel social situations and surroundings is an understatement. We took a boat tour down the Chicago River and marveled at the architecture as we learned about adaptive reuse environmental projects, in which old buildings are transformed rather than demolished. Talk about a hands-on experience of seeing environmentalism, sustainability, architecture, and urban studies come together, all of which students have learned about in the classroom. It’s moments like this one that we have yearned to get back to since the start of the pandemic. And in this past school year, we were able to restore so much of what makes Nueva the learning community that we all find so special. Whether it is taking trips, racing gravity cars, having sleepovers in the mansion ballroom, designing and building new outdoor classrooms, or performing in music and theater productions, Nueva students jumped with both feet into theirWelearning.weresoexcited to see our campus come to life, as families, alumni, parents, and volunteers were welcomed back to lead classroom workshops, tend to the school gardens, speak to students about their heritage, reunite, and, for some, to set foot on campus for their first tour—finally! In the classroom first graders designed a new class library, middle schoolers calculated the carbon cycle of the Hillsborough campus, and nine groups of upper school students presented their work at the annual Experimental Biology Conference—amazing projects made possible because of the support of our excellent faculty. It is clear that our teachers bring out the best in their students. In short, the magic of the Nueva experience resurfaced with great energy this past year. Behind the scenes, our leadership team and board of trustees were hard at work helping to plan for Nueva’s future so that we can sustain this magic. Led by Director of Enrollment & Strategic Engagement Taryn Grogan and trustee Janet Cheston, the school embarked on a new strategic planning process, one that concluded with a five-year plan to renew our foundational principles and values; foster inclusion and wellness for all community members; and develop new programs and facilities in order to position ourselves as the school of choice for gifted learners, their families, and faculty and staff who want to hone their professional practice in an inspiring educational environment. This framework also serves as a bold, comprehensive, and aspirational document that includes a commitment to provide more robust services for neurodiverse students and an updated master plan for the Hillsborough campus. We are confident it will bring Nueva to even higher levels of excellence and equity in the near Concurrently,future.trustees Puja Kaul and Jody Sievers concluded their work as co-chairs of the Racial Equity and Accountability Task Force, with the adoption of concrete recommendations.Weareeagertodive into this work and are excited about what the future holds for our Thankcommunity.youforyour support of our community, LEE FERTIG Head of School
“It is clear that bringteachersourout the best in students.”their
OVER MY PAST TWO YEARS at Nueva, I’ve heard how fun and transformational Nueva trips are to students from first grade through 12th. How fortunate we were this year to bring back the Trips Program.
WHAT DRAWS PEOPLE to the Bay Area and how do these people shape our communities over time? These are two of the guiding questions that second graders explore each year in their study of local immigration.
Early in the spring semester, students researched the Chinese-American immigration experience, learning about everything from the political revolution and droughts that spurred emigration from China, to the discrimation and legal woes that immigrants experienced when they arrived. this understanding, students took their study of Chinese-American history a step deeper by each doing a research project on the life of a different Chinese-American about Chinese-American changemakers because many of my best friends are Chinese American,” said second grader Anton K. “I learned that they were often excluded from things in the past and I didn’t realize that before.”
“I was blown away by how much excitement students had speaking in front of their classmates,” said second grade teacher Izzy Mayer. “They went above and beyond with their presentations and respected each other’s speeches.”“Ilearned that you can be nervous, but you can present with all of your bravery,” Anton said. “You can’t just beg for votes,” Kaitlyn said. “You need to offer evidence and say why they should vote for someone.”
NOTED Changemakers Second Graders Spotlight Chinese-American Immigration Experience
Building on a unit that former associate teacher Sam Rubin developed last year, the second-grade teaching team combined students’ study of changemakers with an exercise in persuasive writing. Each student had to write a campaign speech to persuade their classmates to vote in favor of adding their Chinese-American historical figure to the class changemaker wall, a display of different individu als students have learned about throughout the school year.
Izzy encouraged students to add “because statements” to their ballots to explain why they were voting to add someone to the changemaker wall.
“I researched Wong Kim Ark, a cook who fought for his rights all the way to the Supreme Court,” said second grader Kaitlyn W., referring to the landmark case in which the Court ruled that all people born in the United States are granted citizenship at birth, regardless of their race or nationality. “I learned that Chinese-American changemak ers had to be persistent.”
↑ Grandparents (l to r): Yusuke Horiguchi, Audrey Bear, and Oya Horiguchi
CongratulationsHAIKUSWINNING to Elbert, Elisabeth, and Ayaan! Their haikus were selected by creative writing teacher —ElbertWorriedItsA—ElisabethBloomCall,Heed—AyaanLearnLightSunsetrespectivesubmissionsKoningCitizenshipofScott,PennimanteachersCarpenter,AmberJapaneseYokoandChrisandDirectorEnvironmentalSarahasthewinningfortheirdivisions.drownstheskywardsoffthescarletnightthestarlittideB.,grade12thecherrytree’s‘Tisspring!Lettheflowersandnaturedance.S.,grade6smallleafdescends,comradeswatchingabovebuthopefulP.,grade4
—Mitzi Mock ↑ Lily K. stumps for her changemaker. ← (opposite page) Avery R. and Lana Y. present the story of their changemaker in a comic strip illustration.
In addition to the campaign for the class changemaker wall (students ultimately decided that everyone deserved to be added to the display), second graders brainstormed ways to honor Chinese railroad workers—an idea made more poignant by the fact that the lower school mansion was once owned by the Crocker family, which made its fortune from the Central Pacific Railroad. They designed prototypes of potential monuments and wrote letters to Lower School Division Head Megan Terra to persuade her to consider honoring railroad work ers on campus in some way. Inspired by the students’ action, Megan suggested the possibility of adding a collage to the history displays that decorate the mansion stairs. There is now a discussion of ways that future second graders can build on this vision in the years to come.
SAVE THE DATE 2022 Innovative Learning Conference Oct 20–21, 2022 Every two years, educators and innovators from around the world convene at Nueva for the Innovative Learning Conference (ILC) to discuss and share ideas about many of the most challenging, critical issues facing education. Nueva hosted its first ILC in 2007. Since then, ILC has grown to feature more than 75 speakers and attract more than 1,200 attendees from around the globe.
SPRING / SUMMER 2022 05 NOTED
After meeting nearly a decade ago and connecting over having children living on the Peninsula, Florida-based grandparents Audrey Bear and Yusuke and Oya Horiguchi’s friendship took a Nueva twist this past fall. The trio learned their grandchildren were all Mavericks, with Audrey’s grandchildren, Daphne, Jonah, and Sylvie Z. in lower school, and Yusuke and Oya’s grandson, Leo S., a new member of the freshman class. “We of course joined Nueva’s Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day (GPSF) last fall,” said Oya. “With our spirit high, having learned what Nueva represents and anticipating all our grandkids being nurtured by Nueva to be great human beings, we decided to have our own follow-up ‘Nueva grandparents gathering,’”Coincidentally they all arrived to dinner wearing their Nueva sunglasses, which were mailed to all GPSF Day attendees, and dubbed themselves the Longboat Key Nueva Grandparents Club. We look forward to hearing about more grandparent gatherings! Share a photo of your get-together with Director of Alumni Relations Diana Chamorro at email@example.com.
Middle School CAMOUFLAGE PROJECT Eighth grade students in Rachel Dawson’s Mixed Media Mashup elective studied light, shadow, color, and texture as they painted and then photographed themselves blending into a spot on the Hillsborough campus.
NUEVA MAGAZINE06 NOTED Fifth Grade SCULPTURESEMOTIONAL
The first-ever Environmental Art Show took place on Friday, April 8 and featured student work from all the visual arts classes in the upper school. Titled “Resilience: Hope for an Inhabitable Future,” the exhibit sought to spark the community’s thinking and imagination about both the realities and possibilities of the climate crisis. “Each class approached this task from a different lens—a choice that speaks to the fact that it will take many approaches working in tandem to solve this complex and multi-faceted crisis,” art teachers Rachel Dawson and May Wilson wrote in the artist statement introducing the exhibit. Art Briefs
Upper School ARTENVIRONMENTALSHOW
In Reenie Charriere’s fifth grade art class, students created ceramic sculptures depicting emotions. Calm, openness, jealousy, and confusion are just a few emotions that the students captured.
SPRING / SUMMER 2022 07 NOTED
Middle School ALADDIN MUSICAL
Second Grade FLOWERS FOR UKRAINE ART In March, second graders in lower school art teacher Reenie Charriere’s class brought up questions about the war in Ukraine. This tocrisis.duringthediscussionsparkedconversationaclassaboutroleartcanplaytimesofInresponseonestudent’scomment—“art can bring people joy”—and incorporating skills they had learned as part of a study of observational painting, students sketched and painted sunflowers, the country flower of Ukraine and one that sparks joy for many.
This spring, upper school students performed in Head Over Heels, a rocking new jukebox musical based on the music of the Go-Go’s and the plot of a 16th-century romantic poem. This energetic and heartfelt show was put on by more than 30 students—the largest musical cast in upper school history— and was directed by Zoe SwensonGraham. The cast had the audience singing and dancing in their seats! Upper School Over Heels
In March, 22 seventh and eighth grade students performed in Aladdin Jr., a 60-minute version of the Broadway production of Aladdin written specifically for middle school performers. This production sparked a student-led exploration and conversation about how stories like Aladdin can be more culturally inclusive. “Students modeled for the adults how to use their revisions to Aladdin as an opportunity to change the story so it reflects our community’s values,” said Middle School Division Head Karen Tiegel. To learn more, scan this QR code.
There is a lot to love in Schuyler Bailer’s debut novel! Obie is Man Enough is an earnest and heartwarming semiautobiographical YA book about trans tween swimmer Obie. Even as an adult, this middle grade book gave me chills and tears. With the current anti-trans-athlete political climate, this book is a window for anybody who is looking for a powerful reminder of how and why trans kids belong in sports!
I recommend Teaching Twice-Exceptional Learners in Today’s Classroom by Emily Kircher-Morris, LPC. This book equips educators with information that helps them identify and understand 2e students, strength-based instruction, motivation and self-regulation, and executive functioning skills. It provides teachers with accessible information about twiceexceptional diagnoses and suggested accommodations, modifications, and collaboration with other educational professionals. Every educator would benefit from familiarizing themselves with the practical tools that Kircher-Morris provides.
GRACE DANIEL Middle School Learning Specialist
Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert is the first book I ever read that literally changed my life. Technically it’s about tennis, but the underlying themes are much more universal. Not only did it make me realize that I could be really good at something—even with relatively little physical talent—simply by preparing better than my opponent, but it also details exactly how to do it.
WES CHAO Upper School Computer Science Teacher
Sometimes you just really need to escape into a book, which is exactly what happens with Sarah J. Maas’ completed seven-book YA fantasy series, Throne of Glass. Prepare to be hooked into this magical land of faeries, kingdoms in peril, and strong female leads in this series that is recommended for seventh grade and above.
KATIE SAYLOR Director of Internships, Intersession, and Service Learning
IZZY MAYER Second Grade Teacher
MATTHEW OAKLAND Upper School JEDI coordinator & BSU advisor BOOKSHELF RECOMMENDED READING
NUEVA MAGAZINE08 NOTED
“Bringing the students to the Oakland Museum to see this exhibit was an amazing experience! We had the opportunity to learn about the work of artist-activists such as Octavia Butler and June Jordan and musicians such as Sun Ra and Parliament Funkadelic, among many other seminal Black figures. This helped students deepen their understanding of the innovation, creativity, and radical imagination that characterizes Afrofuturism and Black art broadly. Reflecting on the day, the students thought about how we might carve out spaces to celebrate Black life and Black culture within Nueva and our respective communities.”
SPRING / SUMMER 2022 09 NOTED
The Great Outdoors
Sixth graders enjoy a ↓classroom.injournalingmindfulnessexercisetheoutdoor
The unveiling of the Cypress Balcony, our newest outdoor classroom space on the Hillsborough campus, took place on Monday, May 23. It was designed by sixth grade students in Christine Braun’s design engineering elective, which challenged students to explore how they might take their learning outside. They learned about topography, building models to scale, how to survey faculty and students on what they wanted in an outdoor classroom, and how to successfully pitch an idea to decision makers. They partnered with Director of Environmental Citizenship Sarah Koning to make their dream of an outdoor class room space a reality. the Cypress Balcony pose in the new space with their model during the official opening.
NUEVA MAGAZINE10 NOTEDATHLETICS PHOTOS BY DAVID GONZALES (@GONZALESPHOTO) AND DIANE MAZZONI MAVERICKS!GO
SPRING / SUMMER 2022 11 NOTED To learn more about Nueva athletics, visit org/athletics.nuevaschool.
NUEVA MAGAZINE12 NOTED
This year, the middle and upper school administrators reimagined the schedules to create a weekly flex day to accommodate special learning sessions, field trips, and other community building activities.
The middle school called their special sessions “Mav Dives.” Examples of student activities include a nature-journaling workshop with famed naturalist John Muir Laws, an art exploration inspired by the work of Martin Luther King Jr., and even a spring rollmaking session with parent volunteer instructors. See of“WednesdaysphotosmorefromtheupperschoolWonder.”
The upper school called their special sessions “Wednesdays of Wonder.” Students took workshops with curiosity-sparking titles such as “Siege Engineering,” “Perfume and the Coveted Position of the Nose,” and “Plato’s Apology of Socrates.”
Juniors Mia T. and William F. kayak the Cane Bayou in Louisiana during Trips Week at the end of May. Along with 13 other students and chaperones Barry Treseler (in background), Chelsea Denlow, and LiAnn Yim, they traveled to New Orleans, where they helped build a house in the Lower Ninth Ward, listened to New Orleans jazz, and learned about coastal restoration. Read more about this and other trips experiences on page 32.
15 FEATURE To see thisphotos,morescanQRcode
CATE ROSE ’22 ↓ ’22
When you’re in an environment that encourages mistakes, when you’re not in an arms race to add the most points to your GPA, when your school doesn’t make you compete for award after award and instead makes space in your schedule to investigate topics that fascinate you, this is when you are truly able to be collaborative, creative, to take risks in classes or new subjects, to celebrate others’ successes, and to learn from your failures.
Maybe when we we’regraduate,eachlike a tree. Getting planted in a grove. We’ll each grow and branch out in pursuit of the sun. No matter how high we get, we’re always connected to the earth. A tree can’t grow without watching its trunk fade below it. Our foundation might feel like it’s getting more and more distant. We can’t see the wonderful, crazy moments that made us. But they’re still there, supporting us. And our root system might be invisible, but it connects our class in ways we don’t even know.
NUEVA MAGAZINE16 FEATURE Eighth-grade Celebration Before delivering his traditional 100-word speech to his fellow eighth graders, Niam K. calculated the number of hours that have passed since he started Nueva in kindergarten: 78,840 hours.¶ “When I joined Nueva as a timid 5-year-old, I rarely spoke at all,” he said. “Fast forward to today and I am presenting in front of the whole grade at Thursday grade meetings every week.” ¶ Many of Niam’s classmates echoed a similar sentiment on a related calculation: experiences (adventures, failures, friendships etc.) multiplied over time helped them blossom into a better version of themselves. ¶ Read on for more reflections from students’ speeches.
SENYA S. → Three friends against the world. It’s 3pm–school’s out. At 11:00 a.m. we’re ready for anything. We sneak off to the trail. Beyond the lower meadow playground, there is a treehouse. It’s decayed, yet a place of laughter. Fruit roll ups and chocolate coins litter our pockets. On those Thursday afternoons, my watch was our only connection to the outside world. Sticks were swords. Ropes: armor. Nueva: a fantastical world. Later, I found out our teacher knew we were sneaking out to the trail and let us go until it got out of hand. Throughout the years, Nueva always valued our adventures.
PHOTOS BY COMPASS
SPRING / SUMMER 2022 17 FEATURE ← ALVIN Y. (opposite right) During my time in Nueva, I’ve fallen down multiple times. I’ve slid down the leaf-blanketed hill by the old middle school building, tripped down the cement stairs, and fallen on the field too many times. Still, my ability to get back up and learn from these mistakes has been developed by Nueva’s focus on “learning by doing.” Everyone makes mistakes here, especially me, but Nueva has taught me the importance of revising research in humanities, editing in writing, checking in during math, and so much more all by doing. The ability to make my mistakes a learning opportunity makes them all worthwhile.
↑ MYLIE M. Fireflies light up the sky even in the dead of night. They swarm together as a dazzling group, creating strikes of brilliance and beauty as a crowd. Though together, fireflies are an astonishing sight to behold. Each one is uniquely beautiful on their own. At Nueva, I have grown to be my very own firefly in a swarm of
encompassingsymphonypartandIbeautifulbutthebeingsurroundingstudentsme.Notoutshonebyothersnearme,beinguniquelyinmyownway.shinemyownlightIamproudtobeofthisharmoniousoffirefliesme. AND EIGHTH-GRADE CELEBRATION PHOTOGRAPHERS
Trustee Bonnie Fought, who has served in the role since 2005, echoed Bruce’s sentiments. “A lot of people’s experiences with their older children moving into high schools in the area [were] still feel ing there was a need for this type of programming,” she said. “Diane was such a visionary in really articulating what it could be, which enabled people to say, ‘Wow, this would be amazing.’”
Visionary spirit brings Nueva upper dreamschooltofruitionBYDIANAA.CHAMORRO
“I’ll never forget those words,” Diane shared.While there was a lot of excitement among the community for creating a high school, there were others who didn’t think expansion was a possibil ity at that time. To build consensus, Diane tapped 30 people to serve on the Expansion Task Force and by January 2009 the group quickly went to work developing what growing from a preK–8 school to a preK–12 school would look like. With bold ambition, they began to define how a Nueva upper school expe rience would distinguish itself in an area saturated with other great high schools.
Diane was also surrounded by vision aries. She recalled that two days after the stock market fell in 2008, Dennis Wong shared in a public meeting, “You need to figure this out right now. This is the upside of a down market.”
It’s late spring and high school students are working together on a patch of arti ficial turf on what was once a horse race track. Other students are in deep con versation about Shakespeare’s Othello in a third-floor classroom. And even more students are gathered around a grand piano listening to one another play clas sical music. This day, and the previous almost 1,000 days at the Nueva upper school campus, were made possible because a group of leaders had a vision they wanted to bring to life. There had always been a dream of continuing the Nueva educational experience through high school, but the intangibles of how, where, and when loomed large, long before a stake was ever in the ground and our flourishing upper school became what it is today. Upon her arrival as head of school in 2001, Diane Rosenberg knew that a high school was a priority, though it would take over a decade to make this dream a reality.“Itwas a really big decision [to create a high school], and [Nueva’s leaders] had been talking about it for a long time,” Diane said. “It always felt like something was missing,” said former board chair Bruce Cozadd, who has served as a Nueva trustee since 2003. “It was a very per sonal motivation for a lot of us, that the wonderful feeling of a Nueva education should not stop after eighth grade.”
“I have to give full credit to Diane Rosenberg for being the visionary. [While] a lot of us on the operational side helped raise the money, she was the one who had the educational vision and the program vision for [the upper school],” Karla said.
Former trustee Karla Jurvetson remembers how the task force began its exhaustive evaluation process. “We would go on trips to really excellent upper schools [around the country],” Karla recalled. “It was a very thoughtful, intentional plan.”
In tandem, task force members solic ited community input, asking students, parents, and alumni to share their thoughts on how they would design their ideal high school.
NUEVA MAGAZINE18 FEATURE
With optimism budding and plans evolving, there were still board and community members who remained uncomfortable with the school taking on such a significant financial risk. The task force enlisted Lana Guernsey of Living Strategy to lead a pro-bono viability study through the Stanford Business School to evaluate if Nueva could suc cessfully expand to a preK–12 institution.
SPRING/SUMMER 2022 19 ←↓ Guided by a visionary purpose to expand its educational program, the school completed its largest and most expansive capital campaign to realize a long-awaited dream of a preK-12 institution. The new upper school was part of the new Bay Meadows development and opened for the 2014–2015 academic year.
One aspect of the Bay Meadows location that attracted Nueva’s team to the land was its proximity to a Caltrain station. “The Bay Meadows master plan is a transit-oriented development,” Bonnie explained. “[City officials] wanted to understand how transit was going to be important to Nueva and how Nueva was going to add value to the broader Bay Meadows and San Mateo communities.”
An ambitious three-to-five year plan for the creation and building of the high school soon followed. “It took courage to implement this plan,” said Associate Head of School Terry Lee, who was instrumental in working with the City of San Mateo during the purchasing process. Terry, along with others on the Nueva team, had witnessed other schools unsuccess fully expand their footprints or see their efforts stymied due to lack of educa tion-entitled properties. “Entitlements can take years to get and you may not be able to get it, [even] after spending a lot of money on a piece of land.”
“If you are going to have a fourth of your students enrolled [with only a freshman class] before you get to full capacity, you can’t say, ‘I’m only going to have half a faculty,’” Bruce said. “We knew the upper school during its first few years would not be paying for itself. We would continue to incur costs and that was part of what we needed to fund [through the campaign].”
A close partnership with the city and meticulous planning allowed Nueva to move forward, as city officials viewed a school fitting in well with the plan for a mixed-use community with residential, commercial, research and development, and affordable-housing plans.
With the capital campaign working towards its $50 million goal, Terry led an ↑ Throughout the construction of the San Mateo campus, then-Head of School Diane Rosenberg (in yellow hard hat) and Expanding the Vision leaders led hard-hat tours for prospective donors to learn more about the upper school facilities and better envision the transformative learning that would happen for ninth through 12th graders.
In 2011, Nueva launched the larg est capital campaign in school history, Expanding the Vision (ETV), with the goal of raising $50 million. Bruce, Dennis, and Karla led the effort as cam paign co-chairs, and trustee Kat Alfond and then-trustee Grace Voorhis took over the reins as chairs of the Expansion Task Force so Dennis, Karla, and thentrustee Rick Holmstrom could oversee the Real Estate Task Force. In partnership with board and school leadership, the Advancement team (development and communications) developed a campaign plan to oversee the strategy, messaging, and materials to ensure that the ETV Capital Campaign Committee was prepared and supported to actualize the school’s fundraising goals during each phase of the capital effort. “It was our largest fundraising effort in the history of the school, but it also accompanied a big vision and people were excited about it,” Bonnie said. With only three available sites on the Peninsula entitled for a school, the cam paign committee learned that the former Bay Meadows Racetrack site had just been cleared for a multi-phase develop ment. It was then that board members and school administrators knew Nueva had found a home for its upper school.
Location identified, Nueva took the next steps to secure funding. Bruce reflected that it was the time for Nueva to be bold. Because of the land purchase cost, construction costs, and start-up costs associated with starting a new division, the campaign committee forecasted needing to raise $75 million.
NUEVA MAGAZINE20 FEATURE As the comprehensive study examined the long-term success and sustainability of an upper school, task force members hosted meetings with top leaders at universities around the country to vet Nueva’s programmatic vision for its high school experience. Through that process, university leaders wholeheartedly endorsed the school’s plans and were confident that Nueva students would not have a problem with college placement.Itwasimportant, Diane said, “to get outside validation and make sure we had rational voices, who didn’t know our community, say to us this is viable or not viable financially.” To ensure all leaders were aligned on the strategic priority of creating an upper school, the plan was codified in the 2012 five-year strategic plan.
“Without the land and without the buildings, it’s just a dream,” Bonnie said, emphasizing the importance of a campus to attract prospective students.
“Beginning the construction grounded the vision and it made it real to people in a way that enabled them to become excited for the prospect for their kids, and also [inspired] their willingness to fundForit.”prospective donors, envisioning what the upper school would be took imagination and trust in what Nueva was creating. Community members took hard-hat tours, to better visualize how the cement floors and steel girders would soon transform into large, beau tiful light-filled spaces for learning and collaboration for Nueva students. It was clear those tours impacted donors.
“This whole project would not have happened if the board had said it was a great idea and Diane didn’t think so,” Bruce said. “Diane was so excited about the possibility, she inspired people to beWithgenerous.”acampus site purchased and the capital campaign in full force, focus turned to outreach and recruitment of a ninth grade class. Despite the Bay Meadows site not being completed until fall 2014, Nueva did not deviate from its strategic plan and pushed on with build ing a freshman class during the 2012–13 academic year.
↑ Culminating 10 years of strategic planning and capital fundraising, the upper school campus officially opened for the 2014–2015 academic year. Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony were (l to r): Associate Head of School Terry Lee; thentrustee Mara Wallace; then-trustee Karla Jurvetson; founding Upper School Division Head Mark Schoeffel; then-Head of School Diane Rosenberg, trustee Bruce Cozadd, and trustee Bonnie Fought.
“Nueva wasn’t building another college preparatory, it was building a Nueva high school, and the founding class needed to be students who were ready to not only tackle ambiguity, but own it,” said then-Director of PreK–12 Admissions Taryn Grogan. Building the founding ninth grade was not as straightforward as it would be with future ninth grade cohorts, when the majority of Nueva eighth graders would continue on to the high school. For the graduating eighth grade class of 2013, their time at Nueva had not included the option of a high school, and there was uncertainty for some
SPRING/SUMMER 2022 21 FEATURE extensive process vetting financial partners and helped Nueva secure a $40 million loan to purchase a fouracre parcel in the new Bay Meadows development for $17 million.
↑ Expanding the Vision capital campaign co-chairs Dennis Wong (top image) and Bruce Cozadd (bottom image) welcomed community members and local dignitaries to the unveiling of the campus.
As capital funding efforts continued and community support increased, the Advancement team was critical in conveying Nueva’s commitment to advancing gifted education, and the fact that expanding to a preK–12 school would benefit the whole community— past, present, and future—not just the highAnchoringschoolers.the campaign was a group of visionary donors, whose leadership gifts propelled the school closer to its $50 million goal. Their belief in and full commitment to the campaign, to Nueva, and to the school’s future inspired further com munity partnership and campaign commitments.“Thiswasacommunity-wide effort. A lot of parents stepped up and they gave what was their most generous contribution in their lives to realize this campaign,” Karla said. For the campaign co-chairs, Diane’s complete commitment to the project was essential.
“[When I learned of] a small, new upper school that emphasized innovation, design thinking, hands-on learning, and exploration, I was hooked. ” ’17
(READ MORE REFLECTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE FOUNDING CLASS ON P. 48.)
Swetha carried that excitement with her throughout her time at Nueva and beyond. “I am grateful to Nueva not just for preparing me academically for college, but also socially and emotionally,” she ↑ At the 2014 unveiling ceremony, students across divisions explored and experienced the unique elements of the San Mateo campus, including a rock climbing wall.
Taryn and her team were supportive of eighth graders exploring other high school options, while reminding them, “Nueva’s high school is for Nueva stu dents. We weren’t trying to identify who would be successful in the high school; we knew it was our Nueva students.” Because the Bay Meadows campus was not set to be completed by the time the first freshman class began high school, the school secured a building in College of San Mateo (CSM) for that first year, and critical hires were made (read more about the first year of the upper school on p. 24). In August 2013, the long-awaited dream to create an upper school became reality as Nueva’s founding upper school class eagerly and excitedly began their freshman year. For Swetha Tummala ’17, who entered Nueva as a ninth grader, there was a level of excitement only Nueva could offer.
“[When I learned of] a small, new upper school that emphasized innova tion, design thinking, hands-on learning, and exploration, I was hooked,” she said. “I saw being part of Nueva’s founding upper school class as a once-in-a-life time opportunity. I was excited about the support and attention that teachers and administration would provide students and about the potential to create clubs, traditions, and a culture.”
NUEVA MAGAZINE22 FEATURE about an unknown high school. Others in the class were excited about being the founding cohort—the pioneers of some thing so new.
As parents of members of the first founding classes—2017 to 2020—Bonnie, Bruce, Dennis, Karla, and their fellow upper school parents witnessed the deep value that four more years of a Nueva education had on their children. “Having been so involved in the thinking about what was going to make this school special, to bring it to life was incredible,” Bruce said. For Diane and those who were integral in the creation and building of a high school, failure was not an option. In the last two decades, the upper school went from a dream to the robust community of 452 students it is in “None2022.ofthis would have happened without our incredibly generous vision ary donors, who believed in the possi bilities and believed we would flourish,” Diane added. “They made this happen and the depth of my gratitude and our community’s gratitude cannot be expressed“Withoutenough.theirunstinting support, making the most generous stretch gifts of their lifetimes, our expansion simply would not have happened. Reinventing high school and creating a preK through 12th grade Nueva would have remained but a dream. This was Silicon Valley at its best and at its most generous. Although very few of our donors were venture cap italists, all who gave acted as if they were. They gambled on the possibilities of our ability to create something distinctive, a school that would be a beacon for gifted learners everywhere.” That investment, belief, and support from the entire community, past and present, is why the upper school came to fruition. It is why Nueva was and con tinues to be able to expand its offerings and possibilities to foster young curious minds throughout their primary and secondary educational journey. “What our school is designed to do really matters for our students and families and that commitment to our mission is really special,” Terry added. Almost a decade later, Nueva remains a place where gifted high schoolers can feel most at home, where there isn’t a ceiling on their learning and explora tion, and where the dynamic commu nity fosters an authentic and personal educational experience. It’s because of visionaries—the board, the community, and the students—who blazed a new trail of what high school could be, of what a Nueva high school could be. [N]
SPRING/SUMMER 2022 23 FEATURE said. “Nueva teachers value and encour age student feedback and questions.”
← From a long-awaited dream to a robust and thriving reality, the upper school will celebrate its 10th anniversary as a division in 2023–2024.
That first year, Taryn said, “Everything was a prototype,” as students played a vital role in providing feedback and suggesting adjustments. When the San Mateo campus offi cially opened for the 2014–15 school year, excitement and joy radiated from the new freshman class and returning soph omores. For all involved in the strategic planning and capital campaign, seeing the students explore their new campus was incredibly fulfilling. “The enthusiasm as those two classes entered the new building was palpa ble,” Bonnie said. “[For me,] it was the culmination of those past 10 years of work to make that vision a reality.”
The→ upper school founding class arrives for their first day of school. Their freshman year took place in a building at the College of San Mateo, while the upper school campus was under construction.
IN 2012, THE BAY MEADOWS NEIGHBORHOOD so many students know and love was a shadow of its future self. Empty lots covered the entire area surrounding the half-finished high school, with a few scattered apartment buildings looming in the distance. No Tin Pot, no Blue Bottle, not even the SurveyMonkey office had been erected yet. This former horse racetrack was home to little more than exposed concrete and weedy dirt lots. Meanwhile, the 73 students of Nueva’s inaugural upper school class found themselves beginning their high school education 3.5 miles away at the College of San Mateo.
The teachers who helped launch Nueva’s upper school nine years ago discuss the evolution of faculty, curriculum, and learning environment
For↗ its first year, the Nueva Upper School was housed in a building on the campus of the College of San Mateo.
NUEVA MAGAZINE24 FEATURE BY SAM TATEOSIAN ’22 Originally published in vol. 5, issue 3, of The Nueva Current
SPRING/SUMMER 2022 25
To teachers like Jennifer, the early days were filled with a sense that everyone was in it together, and that they were at the forefront of building something truly innovative. One memory that stands out for her is how the faculty wanted to make the first day of high school special for the students. In a seemingly harmless plan, the teachers covered a classroom entirely with blackboards and chalk so students could write whatever they were feeling to celebrate the beginning of the year. “What we didn’t anticipate was how much dust the chalkboards would cause,” Jennifer remembered with a laugh. “We had to rent the space from the college, so that night the faculty spent about two hoursLikecleaning.”Jennifer,the second hire for the upper school has also bounced between various roles. Elise Maar, who had worked previously in admissions at Stanford University, began as Nueva’s first college counselor. Elise and Jennifer were both brought on one year before the official launch of the upper school to help with the planning. They had a front row seat to see how the ambitious plans for the high school“Whenevolved.wecreated the high school, I think there was a vision of really reimagining high school,” Elise said. “Now, we’ve gotten down to what really is possible, given the constraints of… college admission and all that, yet being able to do all these incredible things.”
Some of these aspirational ideas are well known, like the original plan for the upper school to operate without grades entirely, but there are others that were either abandoned early on or never truly came to Jenniferfruition.recalled an early plan for aca demic progression throughout a student’s four years: “There would be strands that Clockwise from upper left: former Dean of Students Hillary Freeman; Associate Director of Admissions Elise Maar; physics teacher Mark Hurwitz; former math teacher Jennifer Min; I-Lab shop manager George Jemmott; Director of Enrollment & Strategic Engagement Taryn Grogan.
“There is no single person who has done more for creating the culture of the upper school than Jenn Min,” Patrick said. “She hand-picked teachers from around the country to fill the first sev eral years of Nueva’s faculty roles and somehow put together a unified body of faculty that shared a common vision, passion, and sense of humor at one of the strangest and most unique workplaces in the world of education.”
Alongside then-Head of School Diane Rosenberg, Associate Head of School Terry Lee, and the board of trustees, Jennifer and the other founding fac ulty members did this by designing an academic schedule and program that embraced those values, hiring remarkable teachers, and creating a broad and deep offering of courses with elective choices starting in ninth grade. “When we were starting the upper school, I did everything and anything that needed to be done,” Jennifer recalled. She ended up juggling an array of roles—teaching an economics class and an entrepreneurship class (“I think it’s really important for all adults and teachers [at the upper school] to be in a classroom and be with students because it’s them that we’re here for and why we started the upper school in the first place.”); helping to order chairs and desks; and hiring many of the founding teachers. This group of faculty was instrumental in creating the foun dation of what would become the high school experience. Economics teacher Patrick Berger, who was hired by Jennifer in 2015 to serve as the new economics teacher as she was leaving the classroom to assume an administrative role, ascribes much of this success to her.
NUEVA MAGAZINE26 FEATURE Since then, the high school has expanded to a state-of-the-art campus in the now-bustling development of Bay Meadows, with 451 students roam ing its halls daily. The founding upper school class has long since left the Nueva halls for college. But there still remain a few faculty who remember the interim campus at the College of San Mateo. Jennifer Min, former upper school teacher and one of the architects of the Nueva upper school curriculum, said she stopped at nothing nine years ago to make sure the jumble of puzzle pieces that comprised the high school fit together. While her position changed throughout her time at Nueva (and, after a second stint at Nueva, she recently left to teach in Singapore), she still vividly remembers the excitement of starting something new. “We set out with a bold vision to reimagine the high school experience,” Jennifer said. “We wanted to extend the Nueva culture of fostering a love and joy in learning, and inspiring students and teachers to imagine the possibilities.”
Patrick also mentioned how hard it was to find teachers who were a good fit for Nueva’s philosophy. “You can’t tell teachers what their values should be, you can’t teach some one to shift their core identity,” he said. “So finding the perfect people to lead our school and classrooms forward was the most impactful thing anyone could have done.”
“I remember overhearing a student from our first ninth grade class sharing his thoughts on the Nueva Upper School with a prospective student, ‘Here at Nueva high school we learn with our teachers, not just from them; we create and start clubs, not just join them,’” Jennifer shared. “Upon hearing that, I knew that we were off to a pretty good start!” [N]
For the inaugural Trips Week in the upper school, the founding class traveled to Peru.
“IT STILL FEELS LIKE THE SAME SPECIAL NUEVA FLAVOR, BUT JUST EXPANDED.”
SPRING/SUMMER 2022 27 FEATURE would go through [a subject], almost like a major, where you could take a set of classes that were all intertwined with a theme.”Inthescramble to assemble curric ula and find a proper campus for the first class, this pursuit was never fully developed.Eliseended up departing Nueva after three years, but this past school year she found herself drawn back to the place she helped create. Upon her return at the start of fall 2021, she assumed a different job in an area she knew well. “I decided to come back because Nueva needed somebody to fill in for the interim director of admissions role, and I have that institutional memory,” said Elise, who will become the associ ate director of admissions for the upper school in fall 2022. Her time away from Nueva gave her a unique opportunity to see the evolu tion of what she helped start without being directly involved. In 2017 her older child, Noah Van Horne ’21, began as a freshman at Nueva’s upper school, and she saw the growth of the school as a parent. Although she observed many differences—such as the completion of the Rosenberg Wing and new faculty members—she quickly became aware of one thing that had stayed constant throughout.“Itstillfeels like the same special Nueva flavor, but just expanded,” sheShesaid.speculates that one reason Nueva has retained its core principles over the years could be due to the wellestablished lower and middle divisions of the school. Many teachers, includ ing teacher Rachel Dawson and Lee Holtzman and former Dean of Student Life Hillary Freeman, eventually came from the Hillsborough campus to work with the upper school students. “Crossover teachers definitely help [maintain the positive learning environ ment] and also give some cohesion as we’re physically on two campuses and three divisions,” Elise said. Another teacher Jennifer hired was Mark Hurwitz, who has served as an upper school physics teacher since itsMarkinception.hada crucial role in creating curricula each year as new grades were added. This was a much more demand ing job than any other teaching position, as he had to not only teach during the school year, but also design new content over the “Duringsummer.thefirst four years or maybe more… high school didn’t really exist yet. Every year, we were adding an entire grade,” Mark said. However, starting at Nueva early on also had its benefits. One of Mark’s favorite things about teaching in the same place for so long is the generational con nections he has been able to make. “After you’ve been here a while, there may be more students, but there’s also more opportunity to see a whole family, maybe even several families pass through, and that’s gratifying,” he said. “If you only teach at a school for two years and you leave again, you’re not going to expe rienceUpperthat.”school students have seen many teachers come and go throughout the high school’s lifetime—a ship-of-Theseus dilemma that means there have been very few people to watch the school grow. Yet, though the few that have been here since the beginning have seen some changes, they all echo that the core principles Nueva was founded upon still endure nine years later.
At the start of the spring semester, the 10th grade English teaching team was brainstorming a new unit for the spring semester. Every year, students take on a project that hones their writing for a specific audience. In pre-pandemic years, when the sophomores took an environmentally themed trip to Costa Rica, they wrote about scientific topics for a lay audience. After the pandemic hit, they wrote stories designed to teach children about COVID-19. This year, English teacher Gretchen Kellough suggested an idea she had tried at her previous school: older students revising and modernizing classic chil dren’s literature for younger students. English teacher Pearl Bauer expanded on the idea: What if students looked closely at the historical and social con text in which these stories were written and analyzed the way racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of oppression are expressed in the storytelling? In addition to writing an analytical paper, the 10th graders would “decolonize” a
BY MITZI MOCK
Our story begins where many good Nueva stories do: Someone shared an idea and someone else said, “Yes, and…”
FEATURE 28 NUEVA MAGAZINE
“With the youngest grades, we saw more surface-level revisions, where the changes to the story were more obvious,” Pearl said. “But the fourth graders were ready to understand more subtle and nuancedBecausechanges.”thefourth graders already had laptops, they had more opportunities to collaborate with their upper school partners over email and Google Docs during the semester. But Pearl was quick to point out that the collaborations with
Tenth graders Kate K. and Logan R. and kindergartners Marielle B. and Taotao L. review children's books in need of potential revisions.
SPRING/SUMMER 2022 29
Seven lower school classes signed up for the collaboration and the 10th grade English teaching team, which also includes Amber Carpenter, began formulating plans for the students to meet in person. The students in each division began by recording Flipgrid videos, in which they shared a few fun facts about themselves. Then the collaborators met for their first group discussion. Despite their age differ ences, they quickly found something in common: a love for books. “I once got absorbed into Harry Potter and when it was lunchtime I didn’t even realize it,” said second grader Nicole O. to her 10th grade partners Ellie K. and Zoe B., when they asked her about her favorite books. “You were at Hogwarts—sometimes you just can’t leave,” Ellie said. When second grader Alistair H. met with his partners Sam Z. and Julian K., they shared a unanimous feeling. “The end of Charlotte’s Web should be changed so Charlotte doesn’t die,” Alistair said. “Cultivating a love of literature is such a goal at Nueva,” said Diana, who reads aloud to her kindergarteners every day. “Diversity, inclusivity, and identity are other big themes you see through out our school and a big priority in kindergarten.”Leadingupto the in-person meeting with 10th graders, the kindergarteners spent time analyzing different books: What’s the gender balance? What skin tones are represented? (In a separate but complementary poster project, the kindergarteners decided to name their own skin tones, inventing new labels like “warm cocoa” and “juicy peach”). They also talked about the concept of pro nouns and shared their pronouns with the 10th graders in advance of their visit. “We talked about the fact that you can’t make assumptions about some one’s identity when you meet them,” Diana said. “We also talked about the fact that you can’t make assumptions about someone based on their gender. We can’t assume only girls wear pink or only boys play sports.”
BONDING OVER BOOKS
The story collaboration took place between March and May, with each 10th grade class adapting their revisions to their unique lower school audience.
The kindergarteners weren’t the only lower school class that had been deeply exploring relevant themes before the start of this story project.
“When I visited the lower school, I saw all these posters about identity and the history of colonization,” said sophomore Owen Y.-L. “I was impressed to see that they were already talking about these themes at such a young age and leading with caring minds.”
FEATURE classic children’s book for students in the lower school by revising the story in a way that challenges dominant narra tives and reimagines the people, experi ences, and values centered in the story. English teacher Alexa Hart took the idea one step further: Instead of simply revising a story for lower school students, the 10th graders would collaborate with them directly to create a revision. “When Alexa first proposed the idea in January, it was at a time when all the lower school teachers were in the middle of evaluations and parent-teacher confer ences, and some teachers were wonder ing if they could add one more thing to their plate,” said recently retired kin dergarten teacher Diana Friedman. “But I thought, ‘We will create time because it’s worth it,’ and it ended up being such a joyful and exciting experience watch ing students build those bridges and connections.”
In addition to expanding cultural and racial representation in the story, Aanya and Lara asked Sasha to rewrite the villain role because they didn’t like the idea of someone being irredeemable. “We didn’t want to include evil in the book,” said Aanya. “We wanted to include someone that was either under a curse that made her act evil or someone who was struggling with a need that needed to be fulfilled.”
“In our revision we wanted to restruc ture the message that someone who looks different than you is inherently bad,” Brynn said. “It’s natural that Max is nervous because the inhabitants are new to him, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad. In our revi sion, we called the beings on the island ‘mysterious creatures’ because being Why win a prince, when you can win a game? Her name is Riya instead of Rapunzel. She eats samosas, wears saris, and celebrates Diwali.
The first time Owen and his fellow soph omore Brynn S. met second graders Jude S. and Alexandra C., it was online. Their collaboration began with patient coach ing on the art of muting and unmuting one’s microphone on Zoom. Once all the audio logistics were worked out, the group jumped into a discussion of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, the story of a young boy named Max, who arrives on an island with mysterious inhabitants. “Reading the book now, we saw themes of colonization,” Owen said. “A boy, who presents as white, travels to a for eign island and immediately asserts his authority and subjugates the inhabitants.”
CINDERELLA /BASEBELLA “We all had parts of Cinderella that we didn’t like,” said fourth grader Theo M. after he and his classmates Sophia L. and Zoe L. met with 10th graders Noah S. and Samara B. “In the original [story], Cinderella does things that are stereotypical girl stuff. We wanted to change that.”
NUEVA MAGAZINE30 FEATURE the younger students weren’t necessarily less thoughtful—just different. Pearl observed that the 10th graders who worked with the kindergarten students were quick to embody a teacher role. “As teachers, we know that we learn something best when we we teach it,” she“It’ssaid.not easy for a 15-year-old to col laborate with a lower school student,” Alexa said. “It’s an undertaking, but we are one school.” Plus, taking on a new challenge is part of the fun. “As a community, we value asking our students hard questions and letting them run with it,” Alexa added.
During their first in-person meeting at the Hillsborough campus, the group of five sat cross-legged under the trees in the outdoor learning space below the lower school mansion. Their ideas bounced quickly between them: Why should Cinderella go to a ball, when she could play baseball? If she is a baseball player, why not name her Basebella or Batterella or Catcharella? “Why have a glass slipper when you can have a glove? Why win a prince, when you can win a game?
“Max sees the inhabitants of the island as monsters who ‘roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes,’” said Brynn S., who recalls that even when she read the book as a child she sensed the island inhabitants were being ‘othered’ by Max.
The group talked about the difference between being “mysterious” and “bad.”
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE/ THE MOTHER’SMYSTERIOUSDAYMUSE
The fourth graders spouted one idea after the next as the 10th graders furiously took notes. Over the spring semester the students continued to share ideas over shared Google Docs. When the students met again in May, the fourth graders were pleased to see many of their suggestions and edits reflected in the revised edition. “In our new story, Basebella is a baseball player who is stuck on the bench and her evil stepmom coach never puts her in the game,” Theo said. “The fairy godmother gives her a helmet and a glove to disguise her—not to make her more beautiful— and the stepmother puts her in the game. Her stepmom sees her talent and finally gives her a spot on the team. In the origi nal, the good stuff happens to Cinderella randomly. In our version, she earns it.”
RAPUNZEL /RIYA “I had never met a 10th grader before,” said second grader Lara K., who was partnered with second-grade classmate Aanya T. and 10th grader Sasha G. “Sasha had pink boots with big platforms. It was veryThecool.”group chose to revisit Rapunzel, the famous fairytale of a woman with long hair, locked in a tower, most recently interpreted by Disney in the movie Tangled “In a lot of books and fairytales, the main characters are white with blue eyes,” said Lara. “We didn’t see ourselves represented in these stories. We want to see more brown and black people as the central characters.” “I asked Sasha to make the character have brownish, tan skin, with dark eyes and black hair, so it’s more of an Indian look,” said Aanya. “Her name is Riya instead of Rapunzel in this book. She eats samosas, wears saris, and cele brates Diwali.”
REIMAGINING THE CLASSICS
Lara and Aanya were pleased with Sasha’s revision with one minor excep tion. Sasha unknowingly named the not-so-villainous villain character “Sneha,” the same name as Lara’s mother.
“The fourth graders were quick to see the problematic relationship,” said Bodie, who noted that the fourth graders created new illustrations for the book. “At the end of our revision, we decided that the boy would plant a second tree, so the first tree wasn’t lonely. The boy moves on, but he wants to give back to the“Thetree.”original book begins with the line, ‘There once was a tree that loved a boy,’ and we changed it to, “‘There once was a tree. She loved a boy and a boy loved her,’” said Josie. “The tree is still generous. She gives the boy apples. But the boy also waters her and makes her crowns from fallen leaves. It’s a mutual, symbiotic relationship.”
Tenth graders Bodie C. and Josie M. and their fourth-grade partners, Colton P., Davis Z., and Araya L., revisited a Shel Silverstein classic, The Giving Tree, a story about a generous tree and the boy who benefits from it over time. “The main issue we saw with this book was an unhealthy, one-sided relation ship,” said Bodie. “The story is about a tree that keeps giving to a boy to its own detriment.”“Ithasmisogynistic implications because the male character is exploit ing a female character, the tree,” said Josie, who was shocked to learn during the research of her analytical paper that Shel Silverstein had also been a writer for Playboy magazine. “Each time the tree gives to the boy, the story repeats the line ‘And the tree was happy,’ but that suggests that to be happy is to fulfill the needs of a man. “There is also an environmental lens. You can see this story reflect the way man exploits nature.”
SPRING/SUMMER 2022 31 FEATURE mysterious doesn’t have to have a nega tive“Weconnotation.”alsodidn’twant to erase diver sity from the story,” Owen added. “We wanted to show that different commu nities bring different perspectives. In our story, the inhabitants express love by spending time with each other. Max observes this and decides that the best gift to give his mother on Mother’s Day is to spend time with her at the beach.”
WHEN ONE CHAPTER CLOSES, ANOTHER BEGINS After weeks revising stories, 10th grad ers shuttled over to the lower school mansion once again to join their younger partners for one final storytime session. “I learned that you don’t have to know someone well to make something great with them,” said Theo, after hearing his collaborators share their final reinterpre tation of Cinderella. For Ellie’s group, the reading session left them wondering if their story was really“Ourover.group did Matilda and there’s interest to keep revising it together even though the formal project is done,” she“Nextsaid. time, we should tackle a longer story, not just a children’s book,” said fourth grader Maren L. “I love that this project made our big community feel small and intimate,” said Diana (who, after seven years at Nueva, left the classroom at the end of the spring semester to enjoy her new role as a grandmother). “I was so impressed with our upper school students and the way they were focused on our lower school students, making eye contact with them, really listening, asking them ques tions, going the extra mile.”
The enthusiasm was mutual. Bodie enjoyed talking to Colton about his love of Nerf toys and hearing Davis talk about his aspirations for high school. Josie advised Arya on the transition to middle school, the best classes to take, and which advisors to hope for. Theo loved playing Two Truths and a Lie as an ice breaker with his older partners. Lara and Aanya told their classmates about Sasha’s pink platform shoes. “At the end of the project, the kinder garten students sent thank-you cards and the 10th graders were almost in tears,” said Pearl. “On their final get-together at the lower school, students gave their partners multiple ‘fuzzies—students rub their two palms together as a gesture of care—to fill their buckets.”
Many of the students wished the proj ect had begun sooner and that there had been more opportunities to collaborate in person. The 10th grade English team plans to continue the project next year, with plans to start in January.
The students aptly renamed their story The Mysterious Mother’s Day Muse.
Owen and Brynn believe their story would have turned out a bit differently if they had spent more time with their younger teammates, Jude and Alexandra. At the final storytime session, Jude and Alexandra offered several imaginative suggestions that hadn’t occurred to Brynn and Owen.
“We were so focused on decolonizing the book that we forgot to make it as engag ing as possible for a young audience,” said Brynn. “With age, we can lose some of that creative freedom to share [our playfulness] with the world. I hope this project inspires the lower school stu dents to represent their ideas and them selves in their future stories.”
For Josie and Bodie, the project left them thinking about the future and what choices they will make if they ever become parents. “This project showed me the impor tance of revisiting children’s literature,” said Josie. “These stories sit with you. They teach you what it means to live, how the world works, how relationships should be. If I have a daughter in the future, I definitely want to read stories that empower girls.”
“Young people are impressionable,” said Bodie. “Children’s books are lessons about how to be a person, and we want lessons that we can be proud of.” [N] There once was a tree. She loved a boy and a boy loved her.
THE GIVING TREE
← To continued...be O
SAARNIO,LORA DEANGRADEFIFTH BAYMONTEREY myofOne aspectsfavorite istripNuevaaof sharedcreating aofmemories andtimespecific openingandplace newtooneself friendships! Nueva,Atstudenteverylearnstochoicesmakebenefitthat world.theisprogramtripstheCITIZENSHIP,GLOBALOFPILLARNUEVA’SINROOTED immersedhasprogramtripstheinception,itsSinceexperience.Nuevaatocentral theirstrengtheningindependence,themteachingexperiences,culturalnewinstudents andstudies,globalhistory,exploretothemallowingandanother,onetoconnections thesincetimefirstthefortripsofreturnthesawspringThiscitizenship.environmental¶ albeitlens,newathroughconsideredwastripEachpandemic.COVID-19theofonset stewardship,environmentalcitizenship,engagedofvaluesthetotruestayedthatone PotomactheofshoresthetoCaliforniaofcoasttheFrombuilding.communityand intodiveagainoncetoopportunitythehadgrades12ththroughfirstinstudentsRiver, theofsomesharedfacultyandstudentsHere,trips.onexperienceslearninghands-on them.onhadtripstheirimpactlastingandmomentsmemorableAGAINROADTHEON MITCHELL,EMILY TEACHERGRADEFIRST CAMPUSHILLSBOROUGH momentfavoritemyfar,By thewitnessingwas Circle.SharingStuffy couldwewishWe andtimefreeze theyoushow theseeingofmagic cozyingchildren theirtonextup sharingandfriends Asanimals.stuffedbelovedtheir thisgrownhavetheyasmuch ofusremindsmomentthisyear, thatandchildhoodofbeautythe wethatgiftaWhatback.isjoy waythisintogethercomecould lastwillthatmemoriesmakeand lifetime.a studentsNueva teachersand theironreflect experiencetrips
’22K.ANISHA USSOUTHWEST scrubbySandy, turnedlandArizona ourasforesttallinto Grandintopulledbus NationalCanyon antanlikefeltIPark. thearoundhiking canyon’syawning intodownstaringrim, alikelookedwhat alienmajesticrusty, aAfterlandscape. walking,ofhoursfew petroglyph-spotting, wepicture-taking,and woessunburnchased sweetstickywithaway theinfudgeofpieces shop.giftcool DEANGRADESEVENTHTRIBBLE,COLIN PARKREGIONALCHABOT exploringdaywonderfulahadWe SausalitoinMuseumModelBaythe andis!)itwhatseetoonlineuplooking(worth atrulywaskayakingTheBay.theinkayaking conditions.perfectabsolutelyhadweashighlight seals.harborandjelliesmoonsaygroupsMany aswetofamountrightthejustgettogotallWe sun.theinplayedandsplashedwe ’24H.NAARO HAWAII farmbeeFrom botanicalto Hawaiigarden, forvastsofeels tinyasuchbeing itsWhileisland. andculturedeep addonlytraditions perplexingitsto Alohathenature, abeenhasState about.learntojoy TEACHEHISTORYSCHOOLUPPERXIA,SUSHI CALIFORNIASOUTHERNANDCENTRAL family’shisabouttalkedwhoVang,BrandonGwithdinnerLaotianlovelyafinishedJust fewaLAXinlandingandMekongthecrossingofwar,secretLaostheinparticipation Asian-Americanhavetoneedtheofandimmigrant,Hmongaasupgrowingoflater,months Council!)CityFresnoforrunningishewhyis(Whichpolitics.inrepresentation
’23,B.JACKSON CHICAGO historicalThehere!vibrantsoIt’s withinterspersedlandscape therethatmeansgreenerylush betosightinterestinganalwaysis District,PullmanthevisitedWeseen. unionsBlackpowerfulmosttheofsomeoforiginthe boatatookalsoWeAge.GildedtheduringAmericain toexposedwerewewhereRiver,Chicagothedowntour environmentalandDecoArtassuchstylesarchitectural oldtransformwhichreuse,”“adaptivedubbedprojects toforwardlookingI’mdemolition.offavorinbuildings us!forstoreinhasstillChicagothattreatsthe VERESAN,CRISTINA TEACHERSCIENCEGRADEFIFTH tanksjellyseaThe andsoothing,soare atmarveledallwe andbellpulsingthe tentacles.swirling ROADTHEON AGAIN teachersandstudentsNueva experiencetripstheironreflect ’23,F.WILLIAM ORLEANSNEW NewtotripouronbackLooking ofbreadththebystruckamIOrleans, had.weexperiencesandopportunities YouthfrompeoplethewithWorking wonderful,wasOrleansNewRebuilding weelseeveryonewithalongtheyand rethinkmemadetripthethroughoutmet lovedjustIsouth.theperceiveIwaythe ablebeingandeveryonewithinteracting excited.andcordialbeto
For years, Nueva had been applying these practices, but had not been using the term restorative justice. “Our constructivist pedagogy makes it really hard to do anything other than restorative justice in response to behavioral or disciplinary issues,” said former Director of Social Justice and Equity Alegria Barclay.
Five years ago, Nueva admin istrators—including Alegria and Liza—decided it was time to codify restorative justice as one of the pil lars of Nueva’s approach to building a Beloved Community. A dozen faculty members attended a two-day profes sional development program at San Francisco Day School. It was there that plans to formalize the process at Nueva took hold. “When we left, we said, ‘This is both what we do and better than what we do,’” Alegria added. “It did not feel like a far reach for us as an BY RACHEL FREEMAN
What is restorative justice? A scuffle on the lower school playground led to one student hitting another. A prank by middler schoolers during an evening event left a first-grade classroom in disarray. The following school day, lower schoolers felt scared upon seeing their classroom had been disturbed. And in a more painful experience, sixth grade students misused an online chat group by making hurtful comments to their peers.
Following the not-so-funny middle school dance prank in a first-grade classroom, then-Middle School Division Head Liza Raynal ’95 and other middle school leaders asked students who had participated to come forward, and together they talked through the unintended impact of what they had done: the first graders felt afraid. After answer ing the three questions, middle school students were required to meet with first graders “to make sure the students understood this [neg ative] impact, even if it wasn’t their intention,” said Liza, now the upper school division head. First graders appreciated hearing from the middle school students, and both parties were able to move forward. Restorative justice at Nueva
SPRING / SUMMER 2022 37 FEATURE Moments like this are not our community’s best, but they present opportunities for growth—and offer us grace as we work to repair harm. All three of these incidents came to reso lution using the tenets of restorative justice, a core part of the pedagogical approach at Nueva. Restorative justice is an approach to harm or wrongdo ing that, according to educational leadership expert Dr. Crystal Laura, “privileges healing and rebuilding the lives impacted by it, not punishment norAtretribution.”Nueva,weknow that no one is perfect, that being vulnerable and open about failure, and embracing that failure, is how we all grow. As an institution it is our goal to provide a space for students to feel safe to make mistakes and to understand that they will be supported when they either cause harm or when they have harm done to them. “We are a school community that honors and respects each other and treats each other well,” said lower school social-emotional learning (SEL) teacher Lisa Hinshelwood, who has been part of the Nueva commu nity for 10 years. “Everyone’s not always going to agree and get along, but we believe in a community where people learn how to work with differ ent personalities and honor different perspectives. We want to make every one feel seen and heard.”
It was restorative justice tenets that helped students resolve the lower school playground scuffle. The student who had hurt his classmate wrote her an apology letter, and the recipient of the letter was disap pointed that the letter writer had not spelled her name correctly. When Lisa asked the harmed student if she felt the issue had been repaired, she said she did “Whennot.asked what could be done to repair the harm, she said she wanted him to write her a joke book because she loved his jokes,” Lisa recalled. Lisa explained that restorative justice is about more than going through the motions of apologizing; it’s about making the person who has been harmed feel valued. In asking her classmate to write her a joke book, the student was asking him to create connection with her. Her appreciation of his humor was her way of asking him to repair the harm on her terms. “We want to allow both parties— the one who caused harm and the one who was harmed—to have the space to process the impact and their feelings,” said Middle School Division Head Karen Tiegel. “When a harm is done, we ask three questions: What happened? What were you thinking at the time and what have you been thinking since? And what do you need to make things right?”
Restorative justice is a unique opportunity that offers a second chance, and we must create a comfortable place for people to learn, share experiences, and move forward on a better path within our beloved community and the world. ” WAGONFELD ’22
Putting restorative justice into practice On a Wednesday morning in March, the restorative justice process was on full display in the upper school following an incident in which an antisemitic slur was posted by an anonymous student on a screen and seen by the more than 450 students and faculty members in attendance. After stopping the assembly, addressing the incident in that moment, and asking the student responsible to come forward by the end of the day, Liza knew more needed to be done that afternoon. And because it had taken place in such a public setting, Liza and Alegria knew that inviting the community to witness the process was necessary. The upper school community gathered once again in the gym, where Liza and Alegria spoke about the historical context of antisemitic language. In a circle in the center of the room, students and adults were invited to describe the impact and express solidarity with the community. A key element of restorative justice was on display: that those involved don’t always know what is going to happen and they have to allow the process time and space to “Forunfold.an hour,” Liza wrote in an email to the community, “many courageously told stories and offered perspectives.”
Upper school history teacher Chelsea Denlow was one of the adults to speak that afternoon. After talking about what more might need to be taught in history classes and providing a brief overview of antisemitism in the United States, Chelsea talked about her personal con nection to the Holocaust: “What I haven’t shared yet is that my middle name is Bluma. I am named for my great aunt who was killed by the Nazis when she was 16 years old.”
Lisa says that much of the day-to-day work of restorative justice that happens at the lower school is the building of foundations and mindsets that students learn in SEL. Students learn to under stand themselves and others, manage their emotions productively, to empa thize with others, to develop resilience, and to think through intent versus impact. These skills are crucial to helping students do more advanced SEL and restorative justice work as they get older. While restorative justice has always been part of Nueva’s approach—whether named or not—the process for a specific incident is not often visible to those who are not involved, and that is intentional. When an online group chat became a place of insults and unkind words, middle school students independently, and without adult intervention, engaged in the restorative justice process, coming together to create a set of shared values and expectations for the chat. The group thought about what repair would mean to those who had been harmed—and allowed those who had harmed com munity members to find a way to repair that harm and then rejoin the chat. Only the students involved were aware of the process at work, which gave them all the time and space to reflect and grow.
“I think the reason Nueva can adopt restorative justice practices is because it’s already in our bones,” said Liza, who has been part of the Nueva community since the 1980s when she attended as a student. “We have always been an institution that has been focused on what people need in order to heal rather than focused on pun ishing the person who has done harm.”
NUEVA MAGAZINE38 FEATURE institution to formally adopt restorative justice practices.”
It’s instances like this one—students who caused harm and students who have been harmed coming together to think about intent and impact, shared values, and ways to move forward—that set the stage for what took place in the upper school this past spring.
She continued, “And so my challenge to us is, how do we repair? How do we make this a safe space? And, how do we live up to the tenants of a beloved community?”
Chelsea’s questions would be answered over the course of the next two days, in a process one student said helped to restore a belief that restorative justice can“Inwork.the past, events like this felt like they had gone unnoticed,” said Anisha “
Alegria believes that what took place over that 48-hour span would not have been possible without a restorative jus tice“Institutionally,model. we can see all of the foundational work applying in this instance,” she said. “At the initial assembly, we also stopped the game we were playing, named [what had hap pened], and gave students the chance to share the impact of what happened. The unsung hero is the student’s friend who understood the power and importance of accountability to help the whole commu nity move forward.”
“A lot of people appreciated that at Nueva you aren’t your worst mistake,” she“Isummarized.hopeBeloved Community is more than a buzzword now,” Anisha added. “Now that students understand that it represents a process that is tangible.”
LIZA RAYNAL,UPPER SCHOOL DIVISION HEAD Read originalthe The Nueva Current article here
SPRING / SUMMER 2022 39 FEATURE Kumar ’22. “This event instilled more student faith in restorative justice.” That same afternoon, a friend of the student responsible approached Liza to share that his friend had been the one to do this and that the friend wanted to come forward. He helped his friend begin the process of taking responsibility by arranging a meeting with Liza. The next day, the responsible student—who is himself Jewish—met with the attendees of a Jewish affinity group. He listened as students and faculty shared the impact that his words had on them. He pro vided an explanation, but not an excuse, about what happened. At the end, two seniors—Marcus Kushner ’22 and Coby Wagonfeld ’22—told him, “We want you to know that you are more than this grave mistake. We want you to be held, and heldOnaccountable.”Friday,theupper school commu nity gathered once again because, as Liza wrote, “though there could have been hundreds of different outcomes, the person who did this was brave enough to come forward, allowing for healing. In the same circle of chairs in the center of the gym as on Wednesday, members of the Nueva Jewish community shared words about the incident’s impact and how they believe we can all grow from this experience.”Marcusshared, “While he will face a substantial punishment from the school, no punishment is worse than having to listen Wednesday afternoon to the pain that occurred as a result of his actions. I commend him for his bravery in standing up and taking responsibility, and in the role he is playing in healing the hurt that was“Restorativecaused.”
justice is a unique oppor tunity that offers a second chance,” Coby said at the Friday gathering, “and we must create a comfortable place for people to learn, share experiences, and move forward on a better path within our beloved community and the world.”
’22, who worked with Anisha on a frontpage story on the incident for The Nueva Current, reflected that during the course of interviewing students and faculty for the article, a common theme emerged.
“As a student recently shared with me,” Head of School Lee Fertig wrote in a community letter the following week, “the true metric of whether or not we are a Beloved Community is how we respond to challenging moments that threaten what we truly value because they violate our community’s dignity and overar ching ethos of belonging…The upper school team engaged in a remarkable process of acknowledging, processing, healing, accountability, restoration, and community-building.”SeniorAnouschkaBechtolsheim
This incident has now become a case study about where we go from here as an institution. In the weeks that followed, Alegria and Liza facilitated another repair circle, this one focused on race-based harms that have taken place at Nueva.
“There have been times in the past when racist, antisemitic, and other problematic things have been said and we haven’t responded in this way,” Liza said. “We recognize we could have done better.”Lizahopes to use what students have seen this past spring to build a system that allows the space to heal and move forward. The Japanese art of kintsugi is a metaphor Liza likes to use when thinking about this “Kintsugiwork.isthe art of repairing broken pottery by mending the pieces with gold,” she explained. “In repairing the art, you can still see where the cracks were. We are saying that healing doesn’t mean you weren’t once harmed, but that you can still be made whole. Sometimes the teenage thinking is to go backwards and wish something had never happened.
Kintsugi tells us that repair is part of the history. Restorative justice doesn’t prevent things from happening, but a community built to handle the harm and address repair can still be made whole again.” [N] “Restorative justice doesn’t prevent things from happening, but a community build to handle the harm and address repair can still be made whole.”
Every year, second graders study what brings people to the Bay Area. What draws you to the Bay Area? As a native New Yorker, I’m incredibly excited to try this living-among-nature thing you all do here in Northern California. While my family and I will eventually explore San Francisco, right now I’m much more drawn to the undeveloped areas not far from our front door in Belmont. Up until now, my regular walk was in Brooklyn Bridge Park on the New York Harbor, so the opposite kind of vista—one with no visible human footprint—is kind of a dream for me. Along with discovering the Bay Area’s many trails, my daughter Elie has ridden horses since she was three (though not regularly), and we’re all looking forward to riding being more accessible to her. She also plays volley ball and was excited to learn that it’s “bigger” here than in New York. When she was admitted to Nueva’s ninth grade this spring, I surprised her with a Nueva Volleyball hoodie, with the horse mascot across the back. Go Mavericks!
What do you hope this new school year will bring for you personally and professionally? Prior to coming to Nueva, I spent eight years leading the communications program at an independent school in Brooklyn with a similarly strong commitment to equity, belonging, and social-emotional learning. Still, schools are like finger prints: no two are the same. So I’m excited to spend time with people across the Nueva community and learn the specifics of how the school delivers on its promises. Sharpening my understanding of giftedness—a concept that’s tossed around quite a bit in educational environments—is something I’m looking for ward to as Communicationswell. work pres ents two very different chal lenges: on one hand, we work hard to make sure anything anyone wants to know about Nueva is clear, accurate, and accessible. On the other hand, we love to produce stories and images that are memorable, engaging, and fun. My job is to make sure we’re striking the right balance and achiev ing these goals equally well. I feel especially lucky to join Nueva’s incredibly talented communications team—just look at this magazine! What is something that people might be surprised to know about you? Though I used to be a high school English teacher, for every novel I read these days, I read five psychology books. I’ve always been fascinated by human behavior—specifically, why people do the things they do, the good and the bad. For instance, did you know that researchers don’t even agree on what emotions are or where they come from? And yet emotions directly impact everything we think and do. That’s just fascinating to me! The lower school often marks the 100th day of school with a celebration. How do you envision your first 100 days? My number one priority will be learning. I’ll probably ask 10 questions a day—that’s 1,000 questions in my first 100 days! And that’s a conservative estimate.AndIplan to sit down with every kind of Nueva constitu ent, as well as colleagues from every division, department, and office of the school. I’m reminded of the parable of the six blind men and the ele phant: by gathering many dif ferent perspectives, I’ll be able to develop the most accurate, representative understanding of Nueva and its needs.
StormKarin Wood Karin joins the Nueva community as director of communications
QUICK FACTS Favorite book to gift: Radical Candor by Kim Scott Favorite travel destinations: Paris. DiagonYellowstone.Alley Song that gets you on the dance floor: “Everybody Dance Now” by C+C Music Factory Person, place, or thing that brings you joy: Chocolate chip cookies with just the right amount of saltiness. Morning beverage of choice: Dark roast with lots of milk, extra hot! Secret hidden talent: Juggling Number one on your bucket list: To live in Norway, above the Arctic Circle, for a full year, to experience the polar night and the midnight sun. Your hero: Anyone who’s having a tough day and still manages to be present, patient, and kind. Last “supper” (i.e. favorite meal): Fish tacos from Habana Outpost—literally my last supper in New York!
Just before press time, we were excited to announce Savannah Strong as our new social justice and equity director. Be on the lookout in the next issue for a Q&A with her!
I hope to continue growing as an admis sions professional as I learn the subtle nuances inherent in the Bay Area admissions world. This means getting to know the finer points about the Nueva community, espe cially with regard to issues of accessibility and equity. What is something that people might be surprised to know about you? I have an adven turous spirit—especially when it comes to the outdoors. I sometimes joke that I would have been a packing,NorthIlearnedsnowboarderprofessionalifonlyIhadsooner.AssoonasmovedtoCaliforniafromCarolina,Istartedbacksurfing,mountain biking, snowboarding, skiing, and everything in between. With the confidence I’ve gained on local trails and in the cold Pacific Ocean, I’ve been able to go on some epic trips with my husband, who is also a huge outdoor enthusi ast. Some recent highlights in clude hiking Mount Merbabu in Indonesia to watch the sunrise and backcountry skiing at Rogers Pass in British Columbia. I’m not sure there is anything better than the sense of accomplishment after a long hike or ski up a breath taking mountain. The lower school often marks the 100th day of school with a celebration. How do you envision your first 100 days? Hoping to embody Nueva’s motto of learning by doing, learning by caring, my first 100 days will be filled with taking on new challenges, immersing myself in all that Nueva has to offer, and building deep and meaningful relationships with Nueva community members. I’m eager to sit in on classes and watch our amazing faculty engage students while helping them grow into curious, kind, and confident scholars ready to be positive changemakers in this world. Meeting students and learning about their pas sions and interests, along with hearing about why they love this community, will provide me with a greater sense of the student experience and give me the tools to be an authentic storyteller for the school. Building on the strong partnership between the ad missions and JEDI teams, I am excited to continue the great work already being done to make the school feel accessi ble and the admission process equitable to all families. And of course, I am ready to con nect with prospective fami lies as they get to know this amazing community. Needless to say, my first 100 days will be busy! Every year, second graders study what brings people to the Bay Area. What draws you to the Bay Area? As many people know, the Bay Area is one of the most demograph ically diverse regions in all of the United States. With this diversity comes an amazing array of cultures, traditions, ideas, and values that I am excited to learn more about. So, I expect to venture out frequently on the weekends to explore neighborhoods, visit museums, enjoy local festivals, and hike new trails with my dog, Moose. I’m especially ea ger to continue my never-end ing search for the best vegan restaurant in the world!
SPRING / SUMMER 2022 41
Favorite book to gift: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah Favorite travel destination: Colombia, South America Song that gets you on the dance floor: “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Person, place, or thing that brings you joy: The mountains Morning beverage of choice: My water bottle is always within reach! Secret hidden talent: Vegan baking Number one on your bucket list: Ski in Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture Your hero: My grandmother— one of the strongest, most amazing humans I know Last “supper” (i.e. favorite meal): Mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans, fresh tomatoes
Melanie steps into her role as director of admissions
What do you hope this new school year will bring for you personally and professionally? Working in schools is an endeavor that centers around people and relationships. So in my first year at Nueva, I hope to develop genuine connections with the people who make this community so special. I want students, parents, faculty, staff, and families to know that I care deeply about their experience and am committed to helping them find joy, excitement, and a sense of belonging during their time Professionally,here.
The joy, excitement, and magic of Nueva was uncontained as alumni, parents of alumni, current and former trustees, and current and former faculty and staff joined us for our inaugural Alumni Reunion Weekend from June 2 to 4. The festivities spanned both campuses, reuniting alumni from the Classes of 1977 to 2021 with one another. “To witness generations of Nuevans reconnect with friends and former teachers and soak in our Hillsborough and San Mateo campuses highlighted the deep love and connection our community has,” said Director of Alumni Relations Diana Chamorro. “This weekend has been three years in the making due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it couldn’t have been a more wonderful time to welcome beloved members of our community back home to Nueva.”
ALUMNI FROMNEWSNUEVAALUMNI Read p.seeWeekendReunionaboutmoreAlumniandphotoson44–45.
NUEVA MAGAZINE46 ALUMNI With a click of my mouse, I am transported from my dorm room to European streets, surrounded by the love, the compassion, and the jokes of my friends. It was almost a nightly ritual, scroll ing through the photos of a European tour, taken with my friends and Class of 2021 classmates Avi Sundaresan, Caroline Stevens, Joseph Kraus, Nick Hope, Sam Schenk, Sebastian Solorzano, and Tomo Greenberg. I reminisced on this final hurrah, a trip taken in summer 2021 to celebrate our friendship and the tremendous challenges we faced in high school. Especially after over a year of Zoom learning and sporadic, distanced, and masked meet-ups, I cherished the warmth from late-night conversa tions in our hostel rooms. On our last day in Paris, gathered around the dinner table, we reflected—much like we had done during numerous appreciation circles. We reflected on the unforgettable moments of our trip, each of us sharing a unique perspective that wove a patchwork quilt of laughter, nostalgia, and lifelong friendships. We couldn’t forget our fleet of Lime scooters, lights illuminating the cobblestone roads in the quiet warehouse district Speicherstadt. Other days, we were suddenly transported to Australia with a mouthful of smashed pea toast at Drovers Dog, an Aussie-style café in Amsterdam. I’ll never forget my 18th birthday celebration at Balagan in Paris, surrounded by the people who had provided unconditional support and could make me laugh until I doubled over. These were friendships built from quintessen tial Nueva experiences: cheery hallway greet ings, assigned advisories that worked out in the best way possible, long hikes to Machu Picchu, and semi-productive meetings to work on our “bad science” presentations forInterdisciplinary Studies of Science (ISOS). Our final high school memory would be this trip through the cities of Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Paris. In true Class of 2021 fashion, we were still uncer tain about the force of COVID-19. We had finalized this trip a mere month before departure, and our hearts raced at the San Francisco airport, hoping the ambiguous travel restrictions on embassy web sites would work in our favor. This wasn’t the only kink in our travel plans—we had wrongly-booked hostels, almost-missed train rides, and lost toilet ries. But I couldn’t be more grateful for this band of friends—I sometimes jokingly called us the Hateful Eight—that lifted each other up unconditionally, regardless of the mistakes we had made. Despite being dispersed around the country for college, we vowed to return to meet in Europe in five years, preserving our unparalleled friend ships and stacking more memories onto our shared history. Shared History BY AMANDA WANG ’21 PHOTOS BY TOMO GREENBERG ’21
SPRING / SUMMER 2021 47
Caroline Stevens captured the shot at left of (top row) Amanda Wang, Sebastian Solorzano, (bottom row) Tomo Greenberg, Joseph Kraus, and Sam Schenk.
The founding upper school class recently celebrat ed their five-year reunion (see page 44). We asked a few members of the Class of 2017 to reflect on their time as trailblazers at Nueva and to share what they are up to now.
What are some of the key values the founding class established? How did you see them reflected as the student body grew? Flexibility I think was a big one. We were kind of guinea pigs, in a good way, but learning to be flexible and to follow your instincts was a key value we needed to succeed during our time at Nueva. This also ties into how Nueva teaches the learning process, as we are shown how to follow new paths and pull at strings that weren’t necessarily the first thing we were looking at. If you could design your own Nueva class, what would it be and why? I’ve actually thought a lot about this. I would love to teach a class about varying forms of healing across cultures, specifically looking at spiritual healing, by examining indige nous religions and practices. My research now looks at Korean shamanism and in my last semester I took an anthropology class on witchcraft, so I know that I could confidently teach this subject! Are you continuing to pursue any passions and interests you fostered at Nueva? My research on religion and spirituality started in Brian Cropper’s class on
NUEVA MAGAZINE48 ALUMNI
What Makes a Maverick?
Above portrait by Sinead Chang ’18
Profiles of Members of the Class of 2017
JESSE VALDEZ In spring 2022, Jesse Valdez completed her bachelor’s degree in anthropology with minors in cinematic arts and folklore and popular culture at the University of Southern California. After taking some time to recharge and pursue research in folklore, Jesse plans to attend graduate school in anthropology or documentary filmmaking.
ALEX CHIN Alex Chin just completed his bachelor’s degree in com puter science and math with a minor in education at Harvard University. In the fall, Alex will begin work as a quantitative trader at Jane Street. He hopes to one day work on educational problems, and is currently pursuing projects in the edtech startup space that use his tech nical skills to greatly increase accessibility in education. As you reflect on your high school experience, what does it mean to you to be a member of Nueva’s founding upper school class? Being part of Nueva’s founding upper school class was a truly unique experience, and I think the experience of creating something has inspired me to continue to start things through out college. For example, for a long time at Harvard, freshmen took CS 50 and 51, which are coding-based classes with tons of support, and sophomore year they’re thrown into CS 121 and 124, which are almost entirely proofs. As a teaching fellow for CS 121, I witnessed students arrive in these classes with no background in proofs and strug gle tremendously. I saw students cry over these classes and switch majors to avoid them. The next summer, I decided I was going to fix this by provid ing TheoryPrep, a free online, summer course that would teach students the proof skills they needed for 121 and 124. After putting out an open call for stu dents, over 100 Harvard students enrolled. Clearly, this was a pain point for many people. I had no funding so I recruited 15 of my friends to volunteer as teach ers and formed partnerships with companies like Piazza and Gradescope to get free access to their software. I think my experience at Nueva really taught me that when there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, you can and should help! What are some of the key values the founding class established? How did you see them reflected as the student body grew? One of my favorite core values at Nueva is a sense of mutual respect; students recognize that their peers are really passionate about whatever it is that they’re doing, and that engenders a mutual respect. The founding class went in tons of different directions, but everyone was always really supportive of each other. Since leaving Nueva, I’ve realized how unique and special a community like that is. What advice do you have for current Nueva students? Having been away from Nueva for five years, I learned how much of a blessing it was to be in a community of people who are deeply intellectually curious. Please cherish the time you have at Nueva and follow your pas sions no matter what they are. Additionally, I think people are the best part of life. It’s pretty much always the right decision to prioritize people (over work or anything else!). How did Nueva impact, influence, and/or prepare you for college? Nueva taught me to be kind to other people. Not only through classes like Social-emotional Learning and Science of Mind, but because people treated me very kindly at Nueva. I feel a deep gratitude towards that it motivates me to treat others kindly. Being kind has helped me make really great friends and made Harvard feel like home. I know wherever
suitingfromtransformedinweirdformytalism!fundamenreligiousAlsopassionwearingthingspublichasmewearahotdogformyNueva senior portrait into being a drag performer! I recently performed with Mo Heart from RuPaul’s Drag Race and Meatball from Dragula!
As you reflect on your high school experience, what does it mean to you to be a member of Nueva’s founding upper school class? Being in the Class of 2017 was one of the most empow ering experiences of my life so far. Forging my own educational path and opportunities was as much a privilege as it was a challenge. I got to think critically about how to foster commu nity, about building tradition and legacy, about leadership. I learned to be adaptable, to be a great self-advocate, to be creative. Finally, I genuinely believe I formed stronger bonds not only with my classmates but with my teachers because it felt like to some extent we were all “figuring it out” together. Please share a favorite memory from your time at Nueva. One memory that’s especially mean ingful to me was competing at the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) with the Soundwaves, an a cappella group that I started with Rachel Share-Sapolsky our freshman year. I’ll never forget approaching former division head Mark Schoeffel and asking him if he could hire a music teacher to coach a vocal group; he said something to the effect of, “Sure, how about I bring in a few candidates and you pick?”
JILL MANKOFF Jill Mankoff graduated in 2021 from Wellesley College with degrees in chemistry and Japanese language and culture. She is currently a science teach ing fellow at the Lawrenceville School (New Jersey), and she is pursuing a master’s degree in education at the University of Pennsylvania in the indepen dent school teaching residency program. In her free time, she has been reading (a combination of fiction as well as nonfiction about climate change and public health) and learning about the flora and fauna of the area in which she lives. She also loves to scuba dive and find nudibranchs (a passion fostered in her Quest project at Nueva).
What are some of the key values the founding class established? How did you see them reflected as the student body grew? I think some of the key values established by our founding class include a sense of curiosity and a drive for learning coupled with a sense of compassion for others and a joy for spending time as a community. I see this in the vibrant discussions we had in our English classes and in the widely varied experiments we conducted in science. I see it in the joy we had for hearing about our classmates’ work on culmi nations and on Quest Night. And I see it in the fun traditions our class developed with younger classes like lip-sync competi tions, pancakes for prom, and the annual secret snowflake (I hope these traditions still exist!). What advice do you have for current Nueva students? Take time to read for fun. At the end of my senior year, I remember Allen Frost told us to keep reading fiction because it can help you imagine a world beyond our own. I believe that reading has helped me develop a better understand ing of myself and of others. And to figure out what to read, ask your teachers for book recom mendations! Some of my favor ite books were recommended by wonderful Nueva teachers like Allen, Alegria Barclay, Claire Yeo, and Chris Scott. If you could design your own Nueva class, what would it be and why? It would be an elective class on exploring the ecosystem of the Hillsborough campus. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized how little understand ing I had of the natural world around me when I was a kid, and I wish I had better understood the species in my environment and their dynamic interactions. Additionally, learning about eco systems is a great time to learn about systems thinking, which is a skill that is widely applicable across disciplines (this could be a great space for interdisciplinary learning). I could see a project on feedback loops being a fun part of that class. Are you continuing to pursue any passions and interests you fostered at Nueva? Yes! At Nueva I developed a passion for chemistry and learning about science that led me towards a career in science education. I find it really interesting to think about how we as a society think about science, what science is for, and how we learn sci ence. I have continued reading Japanese literature whenever I can, and I have a language exchange partner I continue to practice my language skills with. I also have continued some of the skills I developed in my Quest project as I continue to scuba dive during breaks and work on identifying species I see.
SPRING / SUMMER 2021 49 ALUMNI life takes me, by being kind, I’ll find kind friends and make new homes.
EMILY ROSS Emily Ross graduated from Stanford University in 2021 with a degree in computer science and minors in ethics of technol ogy and music. She currently lives in London, where she is a product manager at Google. She is wrapping up her first year-long rotation working on the Android Google App and is awaiting news of which team she’ll be placed on next. In her spare time, she moonlights as a session cellist, recording for and performing with pop artists.
Less than four years later, we won second place (along with some individual awards) in the western semifinals. To accom plish this—as a rookie group writing our own arrangements and competing against incum bent champions from artsfocused schools—was the most incredible validation. It felt great to graduate from Nueva knowing I had built something from the ground up, slowly, carefully, and seen it come to fruition. What advice do you have for current Nueva students? I hate to break it to you but the teach ers at Nueva are probably the best you’ll ever have. So please take advantage of their wisdom, kindness, and generosity. Talk to them outside of class. Ask them about that random curiosity of yours. Ask them about that random curiosity of theirs. I still talk to my Nueva teachers today, and I hope you will too five years after graduating. Are you continuing to pursue any passions and interests you fostered at Nueva? Absolutely. For one, I developed my pas sion for contemporary music performance and arranging at Nueva, and I’m still arranging and performing today—and getting paid for it! I should also mention that as I write this I’m on my way to lead a week-long “design sprint” to come up with new product ideas for work; it’s an explicit application of my years and years of design-thinking training!
Rebecca↑ Gardyn Levington’s ’86 debut book Brainstorm! hits bookshelves this summer.
2020 DumaligJeremy, a rising third-year student at the University of Chicago, is triple majoring in data science, statistics, and economics. During the upcoming year, he will be the UChicago men’s basketball team manager, in addition to his on-campus jobs in the library and admissions office. ¶ Outside of school, Jeremy serves as a Nueva Class of 2020 Representative and works on the analytics team At↑ an April #NuevaNosh gathering, (l to r): Austin Cole ’18, Viraj Garg ’18, Effie Theodosopoulos ’18, and Aiden Herrod ’18 enjoyed a delicious dinner in Boston.
2018 Aiden Herrod graduated this past spring from Tufts University with a degree in film and media studies. In advance of graduating, he completed and screened a documentary on cocktails. An alumnus of the Nueva Current newspaper, Aiden enjoyed spending four years on Tuft’s student newspaper staff, The Tufts Daily, and was a member of the skiing club team. 2019 A dual candidatedegree at SciencesPo in France and Columbia University, Audrey Kost was one of seven Columbia undergraduate recipients of the 2022 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). Through the CLS, she will spend nine weeks this summer developing her Arabic language skills at the Jordan Language Academy in Amman. Having once previously earned this scholarship, Audrey looks forward to applying her enhanced language skills to her history studies at Columbia in fall 2022. ¶ Chris Rinard is a member of the MIT men’s swimming team and is involved in several campus-sponsored clubs. He is enjoying pursuing research and startup efforts focused on math and science.
50 NUEVA MAGAZINE
GardynRebecca Levington shared, “Nueva has always had such an important place in my heart, as I attended from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade (there was no middle or high school back then!). After years as a magazine and newspaper journalist, I’ve reinvented myself as a children’s book author and I’m excited to share with the Nueva community that my debut picture book, Brainstorm!, hit bookshelves this August.” ¶ Rebecca will be publishing four additional children’s books over the next two years, as well. To learn more about her and her writing journey, please
Audrey← Kost ’19 is spending her summer at the Jordan Language Academy in Amman developing her Arabic language skills.
at Pro Insight, a basketball scouting company. 2021 graduation,After Amanda Wang and a group of classmates enjoyed a summer European adventure before beginning her freshman year at Case Western Reserve (CWR) [see p. 46]. At CWR, Amanda joined the school’s Spartan dance team, Asian American Alliance, the Global Ethical Leadership Society, and the Society of Constitutional Policy, while exploring various academic majors. To further her studies in chemistry and have additional interdisciplinary learning opportunities, Amanda transferred to Washington University in St. Louis for her sophomore year. ¶ This past year, Amanda interned for a California District 16 candidate, LIFE AFTER NUEVA At the final upper school NPA meeting, young alumni participated in a panel to share insight about the transition from Nueva to college, how they’ve navigated life on campus and in classes, or their experience taking a gap year.
Clockwise↑ from top left: Class of 2019 friends Libby McClelland, Chris Rinard, Audrey Chin, Eton Shon, and Sophia Yang (inset) got together this past spring at a #NuevaNosh in Boston. Class← of 2020 Rep Jeremy Dumalig is a third-year student at the University of Chicago.
where she led a healthcare initiative and examined the business side of healthcare access, and was a summer intern at Becton Dickinson, a medical technology company. In addition to her academic and professional pursuits, she remains passionate about donut-making, an interest sparked from a Nueva Quest project. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Do you have news or personal updates you’d like to share? We invite you to submit a class brief about exciting personal events, including marriages or new arrivals, professional experi ences or accomplishments, recent travel, reunions with fellow Nueva alumni, and more. nuevaschool.org/classbriefs
NUEVA MAGAZINE52 POINTEXCLAMATION PRIDE IN ALL OUR MAVERICKS! We were proud to join other Bay Area independent schools at the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, 2022. It was truly a one-school event, as more than 100 of our Mavericks—Nueva students, families, teachers, and staff from all three divisions— donned Mavericks Pride t-shirts and marched side by side down Market Street on a beautiful San Francisco summer day.
Join us at MavFest 2022, Nueva’s inaugural all-community back-toschool Students,celebration!families,faculty, and staff are invited to enjoy food, fun, and games. Reunite with old friends and make new ones. Plus, learn how to get involved with the Nueva Parents’ Association (NPA) and sign up to volunteer for community events and programs. Please note that MavFest will be replacing the NPA’s Tea on the Plaza, which was traditionally held on the first day of school. All-School Celebration MavFest upper school campus @ 131 E. 28th ave., San Mateo August 27 12 p.m. SAT U RDAY FUN Save The Date nuevaschool.org/MavFest (requires login)