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Improving the Lives of Others

Developing a sense of belonging at NEIA starts with our faculty and establishing our school culture. We gathered as a team twice this spring to set our cultural charter, identify our work, and lay the foundation for the school’s future.

Culture at NEIA

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The world’s needs are too pressing – and the world is changing too quickly – for us not to develop passion in students from a young age. NEIA’s culture is evident, a community dedicated to improving the lives of others.

Establishing a Cultural Charter 

During our first meeting in April, we began our day with a land acknowledgment to recognize the community of people who came before us. Together, we created a sense of belonging and laid the groundwork for the community NEIA will become.

We took a moment to reflect on our cultural charter. The team shared feedback, and we refined our message. We recognized the unique opportunity we have to create a culture and community with a distinct purpose to improve the lives of others. The NEIA cultural charter is: We love, support, and inspire our entire community of innovators as we imagine and iterate a transformative school experience that sparks joy and wonder.

The NEIA team is experienced, insightful, and creative. Together, we explored a range of topics:

  • What kind of space are we creating for our innovators?
  • How do we create a learning space that embraces us all and provides us with the freedom to be who we are and become better?
  • How can we be intentional about the methods, materials, and images we use?

There was a real sense of togetherness and the excitement that comes with fresh perspectives and sharing new ideas. We closed our day with a celebratory gathering at the 110 Grill.

Building Community Through Human-Centered Design

Expanding on our work, we held a second gathering focused exclusively on human-centered design. Matt Kressy, Founding Director of MIT Integrated Design & Management (MITidm) and trustee at NEIA, was our instructor and guide for the day. He provided us with a lecture and a project-based experience to deepen our understanding of the human-centered design process.

As Matt explained, products and services offer an experience. To create the best experience, we must first understand the customer. Human-centered design is a process to learn about the customer’s needs with empathy and compassion. We can create meaningful experiences by following the human-centered design process of explore, express, create, test, and then implement.

We broke into groups and participated in an HCD workshop to reimagine an everyday product — the wallet. We interviewed each other, connected through story-telling, and working together, we found ways to improve our products. We ended the day energized with the words explore, express, and create dancing in our heads.

Our shared experience created a sense of belonging and prepared us to bring the HCD ethos to our school and our community.

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Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
Maya Angelou

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After our first full week into summer, we want to look back on a year-long project that yielded impressive results for three of our amazing rising 12th graders.

This past fall, NEIA 11th graders pitched products that could add value to people’s lives by curing diseases or ailments. This is part of the BioTrek Program: a joint initiative by ARMI (Advanced Regenerative Medical Institute) and BioFabUSA. Students pitched their amazing ideas to Tim McCauley, their peers, and a panel of judges made up of NEIA staff members. 

Throughout these presentations, our students walked through all phases of the Biotrek journey. First, identifying a problem. Second, engineering a solution using bio-manufacturing techniques. In the third phase, they developed a business and financial model for their product. The final phase was this event: pitching to their peers and judges. They are trying to solve real medical issues, such as endometriosis, chronic lung disease, color blindness, and osteogenesis (just to name a few). 

The winners moved on to the Final Presentations judged by representatives from ARMI and Biofab, which decided
who would represent NEIA against other schools in the Biotrek Championship. The winning group chosen to go to the championship was Endopexy, created by Milena, Lila, and Max H.

Milena, Lila, and Max’s hard worked paid off as they were the winning team of the championships. We are so proud of these three innovators for working hard the whole year and being recognized in such a highly competitive program.

This project-based learning program continues to be a very valuable experience for our innovators. You can clearly see the intersection of subjects like science, math, entrepreneurship, and communications. It is the perfect example of how integrated academics lead to exciting projects and connections.

#NEIA #BioTrek #Innovation #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #integration
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This weekend, three of our 11th grade students: Vicki, Owen, and Langston, won first place at the Entrepreneurship for All - EforAll All Ideas Pitch Competition for their idea around the NEXTGEN Summit, a conference that Langston initiated this spring at NEIA.

Owen explains the idea to execution as follows, "My mother is an alum of the Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Business Accelerator Program. One night while scrolling Instagram, she found a post by EforAll about an All Ideas Pitch Competition happening. She sent me the post at 11:20 p.m. and we were signed up for the event by 12:15 a.m. A few weeks later we were selected to table at the event with the potential of being able to participate in the final pitch competition. We landed a spot in the pitch competition, and it was a huge success as we not only won the first place prize of $1000, but also won the Fan Favorite prize for an additional $500. We were by far the youngest attendees at the event and were pitching with people who were already well removed from college."

We are so proud of our innovators and commend them for their efforts to not only seek new opportunities each and every day but to thrive within them.

#NEIA #PitchCompetition #EForAll #NEXTGENSummit #NEXTGEN #FutureOfEducation #Innovation #Entrepreneurship
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That’s a wrap! We will see you soon, innovators. We miss you already.

#LastDayOfSchool #Summer #NEIA #innovators #summerbreak
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