Wheeler’s NuVuX Studio Term

Creativity and critical thinking.

The Wheeler School, as a partner with NuVu Innovation School in Cambridge, MA, has opened the first NuVuX Studio Term in Rhode Island, with admission to the program to students enrolled in Wheeler’s Upper School.

NuVu, located in Cambridge, MA and founded in 2010 by PhDs and other graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, forms unique partnerships with schools in the public, private, charter, and international sectors. Students in the Wheeler program will work in an immersive studio-model outside of typical classrooms and traditional coursework, fusing subject matter as needed by working with faculty members from NuVu and Wheeler on solving big (or small) open-ended problems. An end-of-term portfolio documents the students’ design decisions and showcases their final product.

Wheeler Upper School students apply to the program. Those students accepted choose to participate in a series of “studios” developed in a unique collaboration between Wheeler and the team at NuVu. Each studio will center on a large-scale problem and a “hands-on-minds-on” project-based approach to solution-seeking that will have an impact on the community or world.

Faculty NuVuX coaches John Campbell, English Department Head, and Christine Perkins, Science faculty, work with NuVuX Fellow Shaunta Butler in the program.

The Academic & Co-Curricular Benefits of the NuVuX Studio Term at Wheeler

John Campbell, Head of the Wheeler English Department said, “This program is for students who want their learning to effect a direct and immediate impact on the world. NuVuX Studio Term will require students to attend to the needs of their local environment and develop a course of study that aims to address those needs through the practical application of the design process. Students in NuVuX learn to embrace the hands-on, trial-and-error nature of the iterative process while using both their empathy and creativity to drive their classwork.”

Science faculty member Christine Perkins said, “The NuVuX program offers students an immersive adventure in project-based learning.  They will explore their ideas deeply, all the while collaborating with peers. They will embrace mistakes and discover which of their mistakes are the most valuable.  They will change their own minds and the minds of others. They will learn to follow through on projects, from the very seeds of ideas to completely constructed products.  This is the essence of creativity.”


Meet Shaunta Butler, Wheeler’s NuVuX Architecture Design Fellow

By John Campbell, English Department Head, and NuVuX Faculty Coach

Your official title at NuVu is “NuVuX Architecture Design Fellow,” but you often refer to yourself informally as an “innovation coach.”  What do these job titles mean to you? And how do they capture or reflect your day-to-day work with Wheeler students? 

My favorite part of being a fellow is that I have the ability, in that role, to help push students’ preconceptions of how to approach a problem or the iterative or prototyping processes in directions that they had never before imagined. In that way, the role of the fellow is to support and inspire the classroom atmosphere and the student attitudes necessary to foster creative learning.  Of course, as a fellow and an educator, one of my favorite parts of the work I do in the studio involves getting to know my students as individuals and developing an understanding of how their unique personalities and interests fuel the collaborative work we do together. In short, when students trust their coach, they are more receptive to the whole design process and thus better able to push their ideas towards further clarity and refinement.

At the end of a NuVuX semester at Wheeler, what is it that you hope your students take with them into their classes and, more broadly, into their lives?

Much like the way that taking a drawing class can help us see that we are surrounded by shapes, figures, and negative space in everyday life, students who have experienced the NuVuX pedagogy and process become aware not only of the social, cultural, and physical systems that surround them but they also learn to see themselves as people who have the power, confidence, and ability to reimagine these systems for the better.

As a new member of the Wheeler community, what most excites you for the coming year?

Honestly, I think education is undergoing a huge philosophical shift, and so to be able to bring the educational approach and methodology of the architecture studio model to upper and middle school education is really a very exciting thing. Furthermore, even though I’ve only been at Wheeler for a month or so, I can feel the momentum of all the exciting work that is being done by my Wheeler colleagues to embrace twenty-first century learning, and I’m fully stoked to be a part of it!


@ Wheeler Interview with NuVuX Team