"The Sower" Mural honoring Lisa Iverson Created by NOVA Students, Eric Fleming and Mike Cummins

Lisa Iverson: Founder of NOVA School & School Director, 1992-2009

Lisa Iverson founded NOVA School in 1992 after having worked as a classroom teacher, reading specialist and a teacher of gifted education in Yelm School District for 17 years. She wanted to fill a needed educational niche in the Olympia area: to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of academically talented students during their middle school years.

Lisa’s dream was to create a solid, carefully aligned, and creative curricula to encourage a fun and safe environment for very bright students to learn in accordance with NOVA’s philosophy of valuing a “uniquely personal environment.” With financial support from her father, Charles L. Trowbridge, Lisa opened a small school in Lacey, WA with four classrooms and a small office space. Twenty-five students initially enrolled in grades 5 to 8. PE classes were held at a local park.

For the first year, Lisa worked without pay, filling the roles of full-time teacher and Director. Her father was the school’s business manager and served as its first Treasurer. One other full-time teacher helped carry the load. During the first five years, NOVA school grew slowly, adding part-time specialists and teaching staff for a growing student population. After three years of holding down teaching and leadership roles, Lisa stopped teaching full-time and began to cultivate a teaching and administrative staff that would suit the growing student body and expanding reputation for excellence. The school also narrowed its focus to serve students in 6th through 8th grades.

Lisa led the school to join the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS) as a candidate member in 1995. Furthermore, she spearheaded NOVA’s first self-study for PNAIS accreditation during the 1998-1999 school year. NOVA received PNAIS accreditation in 2000.

In 1999, Charles L. Trowbridge passed away unexpectedly and bequeathed the school a generous legacy to secure a better facility. The money was put in a trust and the school spent two years carefully exploring and discussing the growth of school and the facility needs. Under Lisa’s leadership, NOVA located and purchased a church property in Olympia with adequate space and spent a year renovating the building. NOVA School moved into its new building in June 2002.

Lisa Iverson served as the Director of NOVA School from 1992 to 2009. Since leaving NOVA in 2009, she has followed her lifelong interest in psychology. She completed her second Masters in Counseling Psychology and became certified as an integral coach and a counselor. She continues to stay very active as an advocate for children, in addition to enjoying rowing, gardening, bicycling and watercolor art.

The NOVA community of longtime teachers and staff, their newer counterparts, the Board of Trustees, students and their families all work to ensure the continued success of this exceptional school, which stands as an enduring legacy to the vision, courage, and commitment of Lisa Iverson and her family.