Community at Nova
Nova is a really nice place to be. School norms prioritize acceptance, kindness, respect and consent. Students report that they love to come to school, and that they feel safe and comfortable in their skin, bodies, sexualities and genders. Nova works very hard to create a positive and supportive environment for all students, teachers and staff.
Everyone at Nova is here because they want an alternative learning experience. The Nova Project is a culture of kindness and a school of celebrated individuality. This is demonstrated through the availability to individualize your class competencies to your needs and wants. It is a place where justice and respect are highly incorporated into every aspect of the school.
Our community is geared towards people with different learning styles, interests, cares and likes and dislikes. Making our students a part of the classroom and the change in our school is our principle.
Nova is a safe place for everyone who decides to join. We have committees, classes, teachers and specialists geared towards support of the LQBTQ community, POC, and people with mental health challenges. In our classrooms we prioritize learning over discipline and distraction.
Student engagement extends beyond the classroom. Nova has always been a grassroots, democratic school with a strong commitment to social justice. For over 40 years Nova has been run collectively by the students and staff.
Every student is required to participate in a Governing Committee which makes real decisions about how their school is run. Initiatives, improvements, and reforms are driven by student voice with staff support. Students can also participate in or create Committees for credit and fun.
“Every Monday all students and staff engage in Coor. Some like to call it Homeroom or Advisory, but that doesn’t do a good job describing the close bond that coordinatees (students) and coordinators (every staff member) develop over years of working together.”
–Debbie, Teacher and Coordinator
“A coordinator is like an advisor who is also a teacher. A coordinator is your cheerleader throughout high school and will help you at anytime, anywhere and is always there to help you through the hardest parts of high school. At the beginning of your Nova career, these people are here to help you help you get the credits you need using a graduation spreadsheet, and to tell you about the classes that you need to graduate, and other job and service opportunities.”
–Student Recruitment Committee
“All teachers are coordinators at Nova. It is much more than an advisory or homeroom at a traditional school. To be a coordinator is a swirl of teaching, listening, mentoring and advocating. Just a couple weeks ago, I had a 1.5-hour Coor conversation with a student in which we discussed their academic goals for the semester, their social relationships with fellow students, created a plan to find a new job, and established re-connection with mental health therapists we’ve partnered with. Coordinating is a big part of how we build these strong relationships over years.”
–Akil, Teacher and Coordinator
Every Nova student is assigned a Coordinator. Each coordinator has multiple coordinates / students that make up their Coor Group. The student-teacher ratio averages 24:1 and the advisory is multi-graded. Coordinators act as a resource and point-person for a student’s academic needs. The advisory group serves as the core area where students build a strong relationship with their teacher advisor. It serves as a mechanism and foundational structure within the school where all students can receive a personalized education. Using our internal ALE database — where every student has a written student learning plan that is updated monthly, based on teacher reports on student progress in every class — the coordinator helps students select classes that fit their interests and juggle schedules, all with graduation, college and future goals in mind.
Monthly student/coordinator meetings, an ALE requirement, allow for ongoing discussion of student progress, challenges and success. After your student, your student’s coordinator is your key contact at Nova. Ask your student to set up a family conference or parent meeting that everyone attends. Of course, if you should have concerns about your student you may contact your student’s coordinator at any time during the school year, but student / parent / coordinator collaborations are always encouraged and preferred.
Most students have the same coordinator thru graduation. However, it’s important that a student feels comfortable communicating openly and directly with their coordinator. Students who feel that they’d work better with someone different are encouraged to schedule a meeting with the prospective coordinator to discuss their compatibility and to confirm that the new coordinator can take another coordinate. It is up to the student and new coordinator to complete the change.
Nova has a wide range of student activities facilitated by Committees . Committees at Nova include governing committees which help run the school and a wide variety of community-building activities. Here are a few examples:
Dances, like the annual Halloween Dance and Prom, are planned, decorated, and (almost) completely organized and run by students in Guild (aka the Events Planning Committee.) This usually results in creative, non-conventional themes, such as Game of Thrones, Galaxy, Nautical, and Conspiracy Theory. Guild also organizes karaoke afternoons, movie nights, video game socials, and the annual Craft Fair.
Art Shares, casual monthly student showcases for music, poetry, or visual art, are put on by Yearbook Committee. Signups are open until the day of the event, and all students are encouraged to perform or attend.
Every Spring Semester, Nova offers a poetry class calledThe Naked Truth on Stereotypes where students confront stereotypes, power, and privilege through poetry and performance art. At the end of the semester, students from the class share their poems and performance pieces with the rest of the school in our Annual Naked Truth Showcase.