Diane’s Plan

Sep 30, 2019 | Features, Inside the Bubble, News, Uncategorized

R

osenberg wasn’t looking for a job when Nueva came calling 19 years ago—in fact, the first time she was asked to apply for their Head of School position by a friend who ran a search firm, she’d already half-jokingly told him and other recruiters, “Please don’t call me again.”

She’d thought nothing of Nueva’s Head of School Search other than as another recruiting request. In the end, it was her husband, Bob Rosenberg, who finally convinced her to take a look.

“He said, ‘This is the school you’ve always wanted to found,’” Rosenberg recalled. “So I did look at the website that night in late 2000, early 2001, and he was right. I loved everything about it.”

Weeks later, she visited the Hillsborough campus for three days while school was in session—that, she said, was when she began the second of her life’s two “great love affairs,” her family and Nueva.

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Our strategic plan is a living document. We move the school forward, remaining on the leading edge of education, through our task forces. This work is very interesting and deeply meaningful.

Diane Rosenberg

Head of School

Nineteen years later, sitting comfortably at the paper-littered table in her office, Rosenberg was the picture of nostalgia made lively with the hope of future plans, and held the wistful expression of a departing Head of School after 19 years on the job.

“It’s time,” she said. “It was a hard decision to make. I’m not looking for anything else; I can’t imagine being in another school when I’ve loved this school as deeply and as long as I have.”

Even in her last year, Rosenberg’s list of goals is ambitious and extensive, ranging from the tangible, like visiting more classrooms, to the abstract, like upholding Nueva’s core missions. 

Due to her many responsibilities—especially in her final year—time seems to be the precious commodity; however, Rosenberg

 

says that she’s already blocked off space in her schedule to meet with more students, and is looking forward to going to the Innovative Learning Conference to attend teacher presentations.

“I love hearing students’ thoughts and perspectives and have always gotten my most creative ideas from [them] and their teachers,” she said.

She’s also looking to create a “gifted consortium,” which would bring independent schools nationally and internationally together once or twice a year to “learn and share best practices,” as she put it. Along with other members of the community, she has just begun reaching out to schools.

“There are gifted learners in every classroom in this country. So many languish, especially in elementary and middle schools,” Rosenberg explained.

What can we do to share with others what we are most fortunate to be able to do? I believe every student deserves what we are able to offer ours.

Diane Rosenberg

Head of School

Rosenberg’s tenure, the longest in Nueva’s history, was characterized by stabilization—having been hired after what she described as a “difficult period” in 1997 when the school nearly closed—followed by rapid growth as well as the upkeep of that mission of gifted education.

Under her supervision, the student population has nearly tripled from 317 to just over 900 and the San Mateo campus was established in 2015 under her supervision. A new building has already been added to it, named in honor of Rosenberg by the lead donor. She also pioneered the method of task forces to investigate questions in the community, a practice that she introduced and is proud to share with other institutions. 

The success of the school has catapulted it into not only a far more visible spot among top private schools in the Bay Area, but also amidst global progressive education, with weekly visits by national and international educators.

 

says that she’s already blocked off space in her schedule to meet with more students, and is looking forward to going to the Innovative Learning Conference to attend teacher presentations.

“I love hearing students’ thoughts and perspectives and have always gotten my most creative ideas from [them] and their teachers,” she said.

She’s also looking to create a “gifted consortium,” which would bring independent schools nationally and internationally together once or twice a year to “learn and share best practices,” as she put it. Along with other members of the community, she has just begun reaching out to schools.

“There are gifted learners in every classroom in this country. So many languish, especially in elementary and middle schools,” Rosenberg explained.

What can we do to share with others what we are most fortunate to be able to do? I believe every student deserves what we are able to offer ours.

Diane Rosenberg

Head of School

“Simply put, Diane has transformed Nueva,” wrote Bruce Cozadd, the chair of the Board of Trustees, in a letter announcing Rosenberg’s retirement. “Nueva—a model for gifted learning, innovative teaching, and institutional vibrancy—is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership and excellence.”

Through that growth, Lee Holtzman, who attended the Lower and Middle Schools as a student and has taught at Nueva for seven years, says that Rosenberg has never lost sight of Nueva’s core mission: serving gifted learners.

“I think one of the things that Diane champions that is very difficult to champion in this world is gifted education,” Holtzman said. “And it was one of the reasons I came back and it is one of the reasons I stay.”

 

Rosenberg has been a self-described longtime advocate for gifted education. While the terminology can prove sensitive with history marked with discriminatory connotations, Rosenberg describes gifted people as those with “the unusual question, unusual curiosity, unusual level of engagement.”

From its conception, Nueva was meant to be a “safe haven for gifted learners,” as Rosenberg put it. However, as the school expanded, members of the community were concerned with whether that culture of intellectual curiosity could and would be maintained.

“I was very afraid that with growth would come a loss of that mission,” Holtzman said. “One of the things I appreciate about Diane is that she lets some of the chaos happen, and [also] keeps us on mission.”

There are very few people in the world that are true innovators and have challenged conventional methods…in education; Diane is one of those people. Diane’s passion and vision has driven Nueva to become a globally recognized education establishment, giving students a unique learning environment and experience.

Caron Anscombe

Executive Assistant

Rosenberg believes that while the growth has changed a lot of Nueva’s culture, another core aspect continues to shape the Nueva identity.

“I know not every day or in every way, but fundamentally, so deeply valued is a culture of kindness,” she said. “[T]he culture is really deeply rooted…and has always been true to itself.”

Many of the academic practices at Nueva—like self-evaluations and the absence of grading curves—focus on maintaining this idea of self-improvement over comparison. Rosenberg says that she particularly stresses this in Lower and Middle School, when students are first understanding social competition.

Rosenberg has been a self-described longtime advocate for gifted education.

While the terminology can prove sensitive with history marked with discriminatory connotations, Rosenberg describes gifted people as those with “the unusual question, unusual curiosity, unusual level of engagement.”

From its conception, Nueva was meant to be a “safe haven for gifted learners,” as Rosenberg put it. However, as the school expanded, members of the community were concerned with whether that culture of intellectual curiosity could and would be maintained.

“I was very afraid that with growth would come a loss of that mission,” Holtzman said. “One of the things I appreciate about Diane is that she lets some of the chaos happen, and [also] keeps us on mission.”

“I love the vitality, the vibrancy, the dynamism,” she said.

I always had an open door policy, and little kids don’t care if you’re in a meeting or not. They fling open the door and come in. And I got to know the kids very well. The kids themselves would literally pop in [whenever]. They were allowed to have three M&Ms [from the M&M dispenser on my desk]. We’d often stop a meeting so they could do that. And then they would tear out again.

Diane Rosenberg

Head of School

“I’ll miss that, I’ll miss your questions, I’ll miss the engagement in curiosity. I’ll miss everything.”

Rosenberg is excited and hopeful about whoever takes up the heavy mantle of her position.

“I think it’s healthy for schools to have new leadership and new directions. [Head of School searches] energize me and energize a community,” Rosenberg said. “We have such talented faculty, and we have an extraordinary board that’s very strategic and clear in direction. It feels like it’s time for someone else to begin that new chapter.”