Since 1992, we’ve developed an outstanding middle school program built on NOVA’S four core values:
connection, commitment, intention, & joy.

The result is an exciting, rigorous curriculum and vibrant school culture that helps highly capable and neurodiverse students thrive academically, develop strong social-emotional skills, and flourish as individuals and as members of a dynamic academic and social community. 

A group of students outside

Rigorous and Supported Academics 

At NOVA, we expect a lot from students—and give them the resources they need to succeed. 

Our hands-on, engaging curriculum emphasizes active learning, the exploration of multiple perspectives, and spirited dialogue. Classes are accelerated, deep, and challenging.

We help students develop the executive function and self-regulation skills they need to cope with a vigorous workload, lay the groundwork for a successful high school experience, and prepare for their adult lives. We focus on increasing independence by helping each student develop and refine both time and task management skills, improve self-direction, learn to prioritize, and more. 

Because we know that independence is learned through practice, we actively support and nurture habits of mind including responsibility, ownership of learning, and accountability.

A Robust Enrichment Program

Our afternoon enrichment classes include a changing array of compelling choices, such as robotics, crocheting, graphic design, gardening, theatrical improv, coding, yoga, songwriting, restorative walking, Zentangling, Spanish storytelling, and many more. 

Our Enrichment Program helps students build agency and skills in self-direction and self-discovery. Prior to the start of each trimester, students rank their choices for afternoon classes based both on their interests and on suggestions from teachers and other staff members that encourage them to expand their perspectives. 

Social-Emotional Learning

Our social-emotional curriculum is integrated into our entire program. All three years, students take a weekly social-emotional (“So-Emo”) class where they learn personal wellness skills and engage in compassionate conversation. 

Education and social experts tell us that highly developed social-emotional skills are crucial for learning, development, confidence, self-advocacy, and positive decision-making. In highly capable students, there can be an imbalance between academic performance and social-emotional development, making their need for the latter that much more pronounced. Because of this dynamic, we weave social-emotional education into all of our classes and school activities.

Tools for Personal Growth 

Our curriculum helps students develop a deeper sense of self and investigate their personal values and identity by exploring important, big-picture topics such as healthy relationships and societal context.

We also focus on leadership development, from the first day of sixth grade to the last day of eighth grade, by inviting students to be active, constructive participants in our school community. This approach develops graduates who are prepared to advocate for their perspective, communicate directly with adults, reflect on their learning, listen to others, and lead.

Small, Caring Community

Our community is strong, in part, because it is intentionally small. The size of our school allows us to have meaningful conversations and authentic relationships with every one of our students. With small class sizes at an average of 16 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1, NOVA is a place where everyone is known and cared about and where students form a tight cohort and long-lasting friendships.

We also nurture a culture of active fun. Students explore the outdoors together at our start-of-year retreat, enjoy year-end class trips, and get together for game nights, talent shows, overnights, performances, and other events where they experience the joy of our shared community.

Committed Teachers 

Teachers at NOVA are dedicated to (and delighted by) students in this age group. They are passionate about their topics of study, excellent collaborative workers, and experienced instructors who hold high expectations alongside warm relationships.

In the classroom, they help students forge their own learning journeys by sparking dialogue, inviting students to share their perspectives, and offering frequent feedback. They also teach the importance of a growth mindset by encouraging students to take reasonable risks, go beyond their comfort zones, and view learning as a process.

Dedicated Counselor

To help students have a healthy, satisfying middle school experience, NOVA’s school counselor is available four days per week throughout the entire school year for students, parents, and teachers.

Our counseling approach operates from a central belief that each person is their own expert—they know their experiences and needs better than anyone. 

Our counselor is equipped to help students through challenging circumstances and emotional experiences, including issues around self-esteem, friendships and social skills, conflict resolution, study skills, stress management, academic progress, general fears and worries, grief, times of transition, and more. 

What is Highly Capable at NOVA?

At NOVA, we believe that test scores and grades are only part of the picture. We know that gifted students also display traits such as creativity, intensity, intuitiveness, heightened self-awareness, impulsivity, enthusiasm, or an elevated sense of justice. That's why we use a whole-student approach in addition to—or instead of—a high test score.

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