NEA LOWER VILLAGE (K-5)
"There are only two lasting things we can give our children: one is roots; the other, wings."
—Henry Ward Beecher
The Nea Lower Village (LV) is our Kindergarten through 5th grade learning community, where we plant the seeds to grow strong roots of lifelong, independent and self-directed learning.
Nea's Lower Village is truly a unique place. It is a place that welcomes and celebrates learners of all types and stripes because we know that diversity makes our school a richer and more fertile field of exploration and discovery.
Besides being firmly grounded in California educational standards, our program is unparalleled because it is enriched through the child-centered principles and priorities outlined below — values and qualities that will make your child's learning experience come alive!
We invite you to explore what makes Nea so unique among Alameda's elementary educational programs by clicking on the program highlights below...
Project-based Learning (PBL) is deeper and more fun!
As a project-based learning center that spans the various developmental phases of childhood, Nea's Lower Village provides multiple opportunities for individual, partner and group experiences that encourage research, depth of knowledge, mastery of concepts and motivation for continued learning.
Because it is hands-on, PBL also helps illustrate difficult to understand concepts, appeals to the multiple different "intelligences" unique to each child and is especially effective with children who lose interest or are turned off by traditional teaching methods.
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)!
Examples of projects include: Community History, Simple Machine Inventions, 5 Senses Exploration, Watershed Pollution Prevention, Civil Rights Movement, Migrant Farm Workers, Family Oral Histories, and many more! Click HERE to learn more about Nea's project based learning approach.
Click on the image below to learn more about a Nea math project that was featured in EdSurge - a website dedicated to the best in educational technology and trends in teaching.
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 also 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, each learner receives an hour of instruction in both Music and Art per week. This is in addition to other visual and performing arts regularly incorporated into classroom activities and projects, or any arts-oriented electives they may choose.
Lower Village learners select two electives each trimester based on interest. This provides multiple opportunities throughout the year to expand their horizons and try something new. Electives are multi-grade across K-2 and 3-5.
Elective choices vary each trimester and may include: Sewing, Legos, Improv, Dance, Art History, Songwriting, Drawing, Puppet Theater, Green Team (promoting green living), Origami, Presidential Election, Chess, Yoga, Art, Aerodynamics (paper airplane making), Kickboxing, Lego Robotics, Judicial Committee, Computer Building, Creative Music, and more!
A part of our democratic culture, we also encourage learners to suggest electives that they would be interested in having at Nea.
Windows to the real world...
Field trips provide students with a window to the real world that they don't get in the classroom, and they can help students understand real-world applications of more abstract topics in math and science.
Similar to project-based learning, several studies have shown that students retain more knowledge through the experienced-based learning that field trips provide compared to traditional classroom learning.
In valuing the benefits of outdoor education and going beyond the walls of the classroom, Nea Lower Village learners have traveled to experiences including:
- Alameda Fire Station #2
- Oakland Museum
- Junior Art & Science Center
- Alameda Free Library
- Alameda Farmers Market
- San Francisco Symphony
- San Francisco Opera
- Academy of Sciences
- Crab Cove
- Slide Ranch
- Lawrence Hall of Science
- Camp Arroyo
- Asian Art Museum
- Ardenwood Farm
- Chabot Space and Science Center
- ...and more!
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 839 since our 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.
We walk the talk...
At all levels we emphasize, teach, model and celebrate the Nine Nea Principles: Teamwork, Persistence, Organization, Accountability, Compassion, Problem Solving, Courage and Integrity.
Learn more about our Nine Nea Principles...
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.
A Democratic Model = Participation and Empowerment!
Children learn from each other through mimicking, emulation and peer pressure. Because they learn from each other, children do better in environments with a strong and positive peer-empowered culture.
As a CLCS school, Nea is based on a founding principle of participation in a democratic society. Active participation in this democracy helps develop learner confidence, increases motivation, raises educational outcomes and deepens community connections.
Research indicates that positive peer-driven activities result in: (1) team-building spirit and more supportive relationships; (2) greater psychological well-being, social competence, communication skills and self-esteem; and (3) higher achievement, greater productivity and enhanced learning outcomes.
As children work and make decisions together, they inevitably assume leadership roles, acquire conflict-managment skills, discuss and clarify concepts and issues, develop as citizens and unravel the complexities of human relationships within a given context.
Contemporary Community Citizenship ("CCC")
On Wednesdays, the entire Lower 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.
Each CCC has a talent portion where Lower Village learners can showcase their talents, as well as small group discussions and activities revolving around issues and areas of concern voiced by the learners themselves. Each small group is facilitated by a team of 5th grade learners and includes representatives from each grade-level to share their perspectives and ideas that affect their village.
Judicial Committee ("JC")
The learner-run peer disciplinary council of the Lower Village meets weekly to consider issues related to infringement of rules outlined in the Nea Handbook. 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 resolve issues and find common ground so they can move forward positively.
We teach and we learn; we give and we get...
We value collaboration across all grade-levels. Within the K - 2 House and the 3 - 5 House, learners sign up for a variety of electives offered by facilitators, allowing learners to make connections across grade-levels based on shared interests.
Throughout the year, activities across various grade levels and classes allow learners natural opportunities to lead and/or learn from peers of various ages and experience as they work towards common goals.
"Boa Me" Tutoring and Mentoring Program
In Boa Me, our cross-age tutoring and mentoring program, 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.
As a result of their interaction with older learners, 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.
Understanding 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.
LOWER VILLAGE TECHNOLOGY:
- MacBook Pros: 2 revolving carts of a class set assigned to each classroom a minimum of once a week; available in the Nest when carts are not in use
- iPads: 1 revolving cart, being used for centers across grade K - 5
- Document Cameras in every classroom
- LCD Projectors in every classroom
- iPod Touches: Available for checkout by facilitators as needed
- Technology Seminar: Each class has a technology seminar every week
We change it up to keep things interesting...
Class Rotations: In addition to our curricular emphasis in STEAM, our 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-graders rotate through three separate seminars with different facilitators, each with a core expertise in either Social Studies, English/Language Arts, or Math/Science. Not only does this rotation offer greater depth and breadth in each subject, but the variety and movement keeps kids more interested and engaged.
They 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.
Freedom and flexibility...
Everyone thrives on a degree of freedom and flexibility. Children learn better overall when given the opportunity to explore based on their personal interests and talents - just one of the ways in which a Nea education is a journey of self-discovery.
Each learner in the Lower Village experiences one or more "Choice" periods per week. In this seminar, learners choose to participate in an activity that hones in on their personal interests or talents.
Learners may create an art project, research a topic of their choice, build with Kinex and Legos, play a game or engage in other intrapersonal or interpersonal activities that catch their attention.
Learners may also opt to use this time to catch up on unfinished classwork. 3rd – 5th graders spend the first 15 minutes of their choice time as “study time” in which they read or work on assignments from their seminars.
We believe in quality time outside of school...
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 even be detrimental for some children.
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 learning and having fun!
Nea offers an engaging, full day of learning and exploration for kindergarteners, from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Wednesdays 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.).
Core academic subjects like Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies are introduced during the mornings when children are fresh and more able to maintain focus.
In the afternoon, our learners continue with other enriching activities that tap into their interests and strengths. With afternoons filled with a variety of developmentally appropriate activities that interest them, our kindergartners thrive on a full day.
Afternoon options include: motor fitness program, technology class (with Macbook Pro lapops and iPads), music, art, drama, choice time, and more!
Our caring doesn't quit after 3 pm...
Depending on your family's needs, Nea offers a variety of after-school options for Lower and Upper Village learners — some paid, some free!
- After School Care - affordable daily After-Care offered at the LV campus until 6 p.m. Snacks provided.
- After School Enrichment - 1-2 hour after school classes offered in partnership with Alameda Education Foundation (AEF). Costs vary by class.
- Upper Village After-School Instruction and Clubs - FREE clubs offered during and after school by Upper Village facilitators. All UV learners welcome. (See Village Information Packet for full schedule).