Our Inspiration

An Inspired Idea


New Village Academy draws inspiration from a wide, but interrelated set of practices, models, and ideas. Our name itself comes from the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child," invoking the belief that lifting up our youth collectively must be at the heart of our school, of the Annapolis community, and of the future success of our planet if we are all to thrive.

This vision is rooted in the more collectivist traditions of African and American indigenous peoples and represents our commitment not just to a (re)new(ed) vision of community for Annapolis but also to a more expansive knowledge and values base drawn from the cultural strengths, heritage, and wisdom of all of the communities represented in Annapolis and in our student body.

Because our students lead and define their own learning pathways, because parents play a central role in their students' Navigation Team, and because multiple definitions of success are embraced, our educational approach can bring to the forefront cultural values, histories, and ways of learning that have long been missing from public schooling.

Our approach is also grounded in the broader research base on project-based and experiential learning, competency-based assessment, equity and culturally responsive practice, self-determination theory, restorative justice, and Choice Theory, an approach to identifying and meeting student needs. (See our Research Base for more on the research behind our approach to education.)


On a structural level, New Village Academy draws inspiration and specific practices from several educational models including the project-based learning and student-engaged assessment work of EL Education, the relational and personal discovery approach of Outward Bound's "crew" model, the community change model of Baltimore’s Thread and Education Reimagined, the democratic governance framework of Sudbury Schools, and most centrally, the powerful structures and whole school model of the Big Picture Learning Network.


Each of these organizations and ideas has contributed something essential to the approach that we take at New Village Academy. The videos below will help you get a feel for the organizations that have inspired us.