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The Rise of Nova High


 

A well-quoted phrase amongst those who have transplanted to Sandpoint, Idaho, is, “I just felt called to be here.” The same can be said of us three founders of Nova High. I met Michele Burkey in the winter of 2021 shortly after my family had transplanted from Spokane to grow permanent roots in Sandpoint. A mutual friend called me and said, “You have to meet Michele! I know the two of you will hit it off!” Michele and I met for the first time at City Beach Organics in Sandpoint, sat down at a table with our coffees, and immediately bonded over our common values and our shared love of Waldorf Education. As winter passed, our friendship blossomed. We kept each other company through the cold months and had many deep discussions about the future of education, the needs of children and adolescents today, and the changing nature of the Waldorf movement.

 

The seedling of these conversations sprouted into an idea in the spring of 2022. As our children played with cars in the sand at Sandpoint’s City Beach, Michele shared her dream of starting a high school in Sandpoint that didn’t (yet) exist. We startedbrainstorming: This high school would implement a rigorous Waldorf-inspired curriculum. It would remedy the technology dependence and mental health crisis of teenagers by offering them real, hands-on experiences. It would allow them to actively create and craft their aspirations into actualities. It would be enriching, empowering, and wholly life-affirming by incorporating theater, the arts, and deep nature studies. “We should do it,” I said. A pause. “Yes," agreed Michele. “Let’s do it.” Fast forward several months. Through the Waldorf grapevine in Sandpoint, Michele had heard that Jessica Prentice, director of the Berkeley Rose Waldorf School, was paying a visit to Sandpoint. By pure intuition, Michele knew that she had to meet Jessica and share the dreams of bringing this high school to the area. After a robust Anthroposophical conversation between them, Jessica became a member of the team and reconstructed our troupe of founders from a duo into a trio. The three of us made a perfect balance of backgrounds, skill sets, and perspectives. With this equilibrium in place, we launched a season of deep visioning wherein we shared ideas, completed studies including a book study of "Engaged Community: The Challenge of Self-Governance in Waldorf Education", and processed the pandemic in the light of anthroposophy. After a spring and summer of collective contemplation, we arrived at a set of shared values centering around the concept of freedom and its importance in a school setting.

 




 

We turned our focus to the more practical work of bringing about a school as our vision solidified. We wrote policies, met with a straw bale architect, researched entities, drafted a tuition model, held an interest meeting, and began building a website. As decisions were made, each next step of the process revealed itself to us. Luckily, Michele had formerly launched two schools and knew what it would take for us to get from start to finish. As we move into 2023, the plan becomes clearer. As daylight hours increase more light shines on our path forward. We know and trust that we are merely vessels with the proper skills needed to facilitate the genesis of something new. Our school is called Nova, derived from the Latin word for new star, which we chose because we seek to create a novel educational model crafted for the adolescent of today. We endeavor to establish a place of learning designed to equip students with the confidence, resilience, and critical thinking abilities necessary to develop the self-awareness and inner strength needed for what the future has in store.


 




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