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WE ARE NEA
"One cannot discover new oceans without courage to lose sight of the shore."
Nea is a small, dynamic and community-oriented tuition-free public charter school of approximately 500 learners (students) and 30 facilitators (teachers) in grades K-12. We serve a diverse population of learners from all over the island of Alameda and beyond.
As a project-based K - 12 program that values and promotes active and exploratory learning, we provide our learners with a journey of self-discovery through the various stages of development. Nea is a comprehensive experience in educational excellence!
Nea Community Learning Center is founded on the central principle of KNOWLEDGE, LIFELONG EDUCATION and the CONTINUED QUEST FOR LEARNING.
This concept is represented by the West African Adinkra (symbol) for knowledge and the saying from which our name derives:
NEA ONNIM NO SUA A, OHU = "One who does not know can know from learning."
Why is Nea the right school for your child?
We walk the talk...
At all levels we emphasize, teach, model and celebrate the Nine Nea Principles: Knowledge, Teamwork, Persistence, Organization, Accountability, Compassion, Problem Solving, Courage and Integrity. Learn more about our Nine Nea Principles here...
The Nine Nea Principles are the core values and Expected Learning Outcomes (ELOs) of Nea learners, facilitators, staff, families and extended Nea community. Internalizing these core values helps learners develop beyond academics into engaged citizens, productive and responsible people, and active and lifelong learners.
We learn by doing...
As a project-based learning center that spans the various developmental phases of childhood and adolescence, Nea provides multiple opportunities for individual, partner and group experiences that encourage research, depth of knowledge, mastery of concepts and motivation for continued learning.
Experiential learning provides clear benefits like: increased critical thinking skills, greater problem-solving abilities, deeper understanding, better preparation for higher education and real work situations, more developed collaborative skills, and an enhanced desire to learn (because it's fun)!
Work on projects is initiated by asking "Driving Questions" that help frame the substance of the content and the direction of research and discovery. Learners are supported to produce high quality work through established checkpoints that provide them with opportunity for feedback and revision throughout the process. Learn more about Nea's Project-based Learning.
Full STEAM ahead...
Nea is already a long way down the road of a STEAM (shorthand for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) curriculum. Since our founding in 2009, we have developed a STEAM curriculum unrivaled in Alameda, and have broadly promoted the integration of art, science and humanities across our entire curriculum.
As a project-based school, we've always known that learners gain a broader and deeper understanding of abstract concepts in science and mathematics (like fractions and geometry) through hands-on activities and projects that incorporate artistic aspects. Our dynamic integration of art and science sparks learner creativity, creates transformational understanding, enhances engagement and fosters innovative thinking.
Arts, exploration and adventure...
In the Lower Village (K-5), each learner receives an hour of instruction in both Music and Art per week, in addition to the other visual and performing arts that are regularly incorporated into classroom activities and projects. Electives like Songwriting, Intro to Drawing, Art History, and Dance are more examples of enriching arts experiences for our learners.
Lower Village (K-5) learners choose their own electives based on interest. The choices vary each trimester and range from Sewing to Legos to Improv to Dance to Art History. Learners select two electives each trimester and have multiple opportunities throughout the yeat to expand their horizons and try something new.
In the Upper Village (6-12), learners have at least one hour of art or one hour of music per week. Upper Village learners select semester-long or yearlong electives based on interest or post-secondary goals, and can choose from a wide array of options: BioSTEM, Art 1, Art 2, Band A, Band B, Beginner or Advanced Digital Music Studio, Performance Theater, Musical Theater, Readers Theater, Yearbook, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Tinkering, Maker Studio, Journalism, Leadership (student government), Yoga and more...
A journey of self-discovery and success...
As a K-12 journey, Nea's elementary program prepares learners for our middle school program, which in turn prepares learners for our high school program. While elementary learners absorb our Core Values along with academic and artistic exploration, middle-schoolers learn the important life skill of time and task management within our seminar schedule, preparing them for the rigors of high school and beyond.
CLCS schools have the highest graduation standards in Alameda. Part of this distinction is because 100% our high school learners must take college courses as a part of their graduation requirements. (With approval, Nea students may start taking college classes as early as 7th grade.)
Nea is also an approved provider of Advanced Placement courses offered through the University of California "Scout" Program (Scout from UC), creating even more options in academic rigor in addition to the Honors courses already offered.
Nea's first graduating class of 2013 saw 100% of graduates eligible to attend colleges and universities, with over 85% garnering awards for high achievement in academics, scholarship procurement and community service.
As a project-based STEAM school, Nea is well ahead of the game in embracing Common Core standards and curriculum. We have always taught with the goal of in-depth as well as broad-based learning, and have made it a priority to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in our learners.
While we have never "taught to the test," Nea has consistently maintained an API score well above the state target of 800—hovering around 840 since opening in 2009.
We set high academic expectations and have designed a comprehensive support system for our widely diverse community, earning Nea an outstanding 8/10 score in similar school rankings.
The tools of today...
Technology is available to all Nea learners everyday. Our learners have access to MacBooks, iPads, iPods and Bluetooth keyboards for use along with approved personal smart devices. All classrooms are equipped with wireless access to our network and local server, LCD projectors, document cameras and other invaluable teaching tools for use by learners and facilitators.
Applied technology opportunities include: participation in FIRST and Lego MindStorm Robotics, beginning and intermediate programming courses, annual participation in the UC Berkeley PiE Robotics regional competition (Nea is currently the reigning champion), and entering projects in the Bay Area Maker Faire.
Participation and empowerment...
Contemporary Community Citizenship ("CCC")
As a CLCS school, Nea is based on a founding principle of participation in a democratic society. Active participation helps develop learner confidence, increases motivation, raises educational quality and deepens community connections. On Wednesdays, the entire Village comes together in a 45 - 60 minute community meeting. This is an important forum for discussing issues, sharing information, celebrating successes, and watching presentations and performances from learners, staff, and guest speakers.
Judicial Committee ("JC")
The learner-run peer disciplinary council of each Village meets weekly to consider issues related to infringement of rules outlined in the Nea Planner. The JC hears cases submitted by learners and facilitators and decides on appropriate consequences. They also mediate with parties who are engaged in conflict to find common ground so that they can move forward positively.
We give and we get...
In our cross-age tutoring and mentoring program, Boa Me, learners from the Upper Village (6-12) mentor Lower Village (K-5) learners during their seminars. Derived from the adinkra symbol representing cooperation and interdependence, the phrase associated with the symbol reads, "Boa me na me mmoa wo" which translates to "Help me and let me help you".
Whether working with a small group of first grade learners in a literature circle or organizing a game of kickball at recess, older learners gain invaluable leadership experience, provide positive role-modeling and derive satisfaction from contributing, while younger learners gain skills and greater confidence, learn to transition into new situations more easily, feel supported and encouraged, and learn how to participate positively within their community.
Our Akoma Buddy Program matches each Lower Village classroom with a Upper Village classroom. In their first meeting, learners get to know each other and participate in an introduction activity. Akoma buddies continue throughout the year with classes meeting once a month. We enjoy watching relationships build with a focus on and strengthening of our community.
Focus on understanding, learning and reconciliation...
We use a restorative approach in the classroom and school-wide when harm is done.
The focus is to be proactive and build understanding as well as support learners in restoring relationships. We also aim to achieve social discipline through participatory learning and decision-making.
We have strategically designed activities and lessons to facilitate learners at all grade levels to participate in community circles, restorative circles and restorative dialogue. Facilitators also receive on-going training around this process.
Questions we use during these dialogues can also be used at home to resolve conflict or address emotional responses between siblings, or even between parent and child.
- What happened?
- What were you thinking and feeling at the time?
- Who has been affected by what happened and how?
- What are your thoughts and feelings about the incident now?
- What has been the hardest part for you?
- What do you think needs to be done to make things right?
A restorative approach builds a cooperative and caring community in which we can learn from our mistakes and how to make it right.
In addition to our curricular emphasis in STEAM, our Lower Village 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-graders rotate through three separate core seminars with different facilitators, each with a core expertise in Social Studies, English/Language Arts, or Math/Science. Not only does this rotation create greater depth and breadth in each subject, but the variety and movement keeps kids more interested and engaged.
Lower Village 3rd-,4th- and 5th-graders also rotate homerooms throughout the three years within these grades, allowing for a broader exposure to different teaching styles, deeper subject understanding and better preparation for middle-school.
We believe in quality family time...
Our project-based STEAM curriculum keeps learners more engaged while they are in school so they don't need extra work outside of school! That's why we don't burden them (or you!) with busy-work in the evenings.
Plus, Nea believes in developing the whole child, and involvement in sports, performing arts, and other enriching activities after school are an important part of rounding out your child's education.
Too much emphasis on academics at too young an age burns out kids and families, sets kids up for losing interest in school as they get older and interferes with other important activities. And, studies have shown that homework in elementary school has no measureable effect on kids' academic success. In fact, it can have a detrimental effect in some cases.
Identical homework packets for a diverse group of learners is contrary to our philosophy. Our facilitators (teachers) have the flexibility to create a dynamic and meaningful curriculum that is Common Core Standards-aligned, but also planned to be responsive to each learner's needs. This allows for a thoughtfully planned curriculum with differentiation and support within the day, so that families can spend quality time together in the evening.
Time flies when you're having fun...
Our Kindergarten learners are constantly engaged in exciting exploratory activities throughout the day. Our program starts at 8 a.m. and wraps up at 3 p.m. (Wednesdays 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.).
In addition to a Common Core-based curriculum, our youngest learners enjoy enriching activities including rotating Electives, Art, Music, Choice, Puzzles, Motor Fitness, and Technology.
We don't stop caring at 3 p.m...
For many families, it's important to find high-quality care for your children after school. Nea offers a variety of safe and engaging after-school activities for both Lower and Upper Village learners — some paid, some free!
Proud to be a green campus...
We continually strive to make our campuses more sustainable and environmentally-friendly by providing designated recycling and food scrap bins as well as learner maintained gardens.
We encourage active and conservation-minded living through events like our monthly First Wednesday "Walk and Roll to School Day", bringing reuseable water bottles to school, and promoting a waste-free lunch every Wednesday.
We have a collaborative Green Committee made up of parents, learners and staff that continually introduces new methods and practices for sustainability, re-use, reduction of waste and recycling.
And, we celebrate Earth Day with our annual "Green Carnival" where learners create booths with games and activities promoting the 4Rs.