We started Nova Pioneer to provide schools that were different: schools to develop young people with the wherewithal to shape their world. That’s why we call ourselves Schools for Innovators and Leaders. That intention is all centered on our vision of a Novaneer.
The Vision of a Novaneer
That intention is all centered on our vision of a Novaneer as a young person with strong character (founded on our 6 Culture Principles), distinctive capabilities (academic mastery & collaborative problem solving), and deep connection (to their communities and with each other). Our intention is to develop generations of these young shapers all across Africa.
To deliver on that vision we have a distinctive approach to learning and teaching that we describe as rigorous enquiry-based learning. This approach requires a commitment to collaborative instructional learning and leadership from our faculty, and is supported by a dedicated learning design team. Underpinning that distinctive practice is a focus on developing deliberate people and culture systems, in line with our culture principles and with our model of instructional leadership development.
We believe that our students’ success will be powered by their strength of character, as defined and reinforced by our 6 Culture Principles. We see our culture principles and our focus on leadership shining through classrooms and schools.
We use our morning meetings in Primary School to discuss specific culture principles, what they look like and how they shape our behaviours. We see these principles play out on a day-to-day basis including our servant leaders who are assigned or selected across campuses to help from Open Days to running grade 8 Orientations, to student arrival days in our boarding schools being run by upperclassmen and women.
Every conversation with a child is rooted in the celebration, unpacking and reflection of our culture principles, we believe, helps shape the character of our young navaneers as they go out into the world.
We have defined leadership here at Nova Pioneer as personal leadership: our capacity to know, understand and manage ourselves. We are invested in learning about leaders in our community, continent and beyond and how they have shaped our world. Lastly we unpack servant leadership, which we define as serve in meeting the needs of our community, be it our classroom, our school or beyond.
When we are discussing capabilities, we mean that our schools are places where learners can develop the soft skills outlined in the work we do to build character, and they have the 21st century skills of problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking.
Additionally, and critically, they are able to demonstrate the academic mastery that they will need to be successful beyond Nova Pioneer.
We look at, and track, academic mastery in two ways: (1) growth over time to demonstrate our value added/impact on students and absolute achievement–meaning the performance of students on given exams at a singular point in time; (2) we do not assess for both in every grade and subject, but we try to be strategic to get a holistic picture of the academic mastery of our students over time.
We define connection as the opportunity for our Novaneers to build community both within their classrooms during the school day, and beyond our classrooms in the greater world. We plan for connection in our school day through group work and rotations, which are research-based methods for instruction that support deep learning for students. These practices also give students an opportunity to continue to build connection and relationships within their classroom communities.
We continue to be excited about the work of our Post School Success (PSS )team, who not only work with students to explore their paths after Nova Pioneer, but in the work that they are doing to connect students to the greater world while they are still with us. Some of the work the PSS team supports includes organising internships and job shadows for students, academic support programming during holiday breaks, a speaker series, and an Alumni engagement and connection plan – setting up systems that will allow our graduates to continue to be connected to one another once they leave our walls.
You are part of a community
We currently operate 13 wonderful schools across East and South Africa, serving students from infancy through the end of secondary school. Guided by our mission, our future intention is to continue to grow and serve students and families all across Africa. As a Nova Pioneer parent, you are part of this story.