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Educating The Whole Child

Letter From The Head of School

Dear Families - At the beginning of this school year, I remember watching John Lewis’ televised memorial with my partner, Erica. We listened as three presidents reflected on Lewis’ momentous accomplishments fighting for civil rights, spearheading change, speaking to millions at the March on Washington – the list goes on....

About Us

  • 16students Average class size
  • Over1 million in financial aid awarded every year
  • 2/3 offaculty & staff identify as people of color
  • 70%of faculty hold advanced degrees
  • Over 300graduates attending over 70 prestigious secondary schools, colleges, & universities worldwide
  • 99% ofprivate high school acceptance of full or partial scholarships
Michelle & Huck

Letter From The Founder

Dearest Families - 31 years ago this week, Jennifer Diaz, Karen Bell, Nance Tovar, and I were putting the finishing touches on our little school at 4500 Redwood Road in beautiful Oakland, California. On September 11, 1989, we walked hand-in-hand through the doors of Northern Light School with 12 little eager, excited, and passionate hearts and minds ready to take on the world and make history...

Throughout the years, we have witnessed countless miracles taking place at Northern Light School; young men and women proving time and again that, Impossible is Nothing. To this day, our incredible graduates from the class of 1995 on up through our most recent eighth grade class of 2020 continue to make their mark in history throughout the world. They are my reason for hope, they send my weary spirit soaring to incredible heights time and time again, and I am confident that one day, one of them will walk through the doors of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., and share with this country what they learned at Northern Light School, and how those lessons can change the world. 

As I look to next week, the first day of school, and our 31st year, I do so with great excitement, anticipation, and hope. During this strange and challenging time for all of us, the children and our educators have been thrown a curveball. However, when we look back in history, many of our greatest leaders were thrown curveballs time and time again; they were forced to face obstacles that seemed unsurmountable, mountains just too high to climb, with backs that had been whipped and spirits nearly defeated. Somehow, with tremendous faith, they found the inner strength to carry-on. From Harriet Tubman, Northern Light School’s namesake, who followed the Drinking Gourd to freedom; to Frederick Douglass who taught us to “agitate, agitate agitate"; to beautiful little Ruby Bridges who should be a symbol for us all during these challenging times that no matter the situation, perseverance and dedication to education is what matters most. We have all been shaken to the core by this pandemic, but it will not destroy us. We will emerge from the dark and from hours of uncertainty stronger and more committed to our purpose in this life.

Yesterday, Kamala Harris, candidate for the Vice Presidency of this United States shared with us that her mom had taken her marching in the stroller through the streets of our beloved town Oakland, to stand up for and to speak out against the injustices that plagued society. She stated that this is what molded her into the human being she is today, determined and dedicated to justice and righteousness for all. At that moment, I too thought back to June 19, 1964, when my mom and dad had taken us on an incredible journey across the United States to stand 200 feet from the door of the United States Senate Chambers where we could hear the triumph of cheers, the result of overwhelming joy after 54 days of filibustering, and the final passing of the Civil Rights Bill. Just out of second grade, I stood there holding fast to the hands of my mother and father who lived each day of their lives encouraging me to always seek love. From that, day forward, even as a child, I knew I must dedicate my existence to making this country a better place for as many as I could.

On July 17, 2020,  we lost a very special hero; someone whom I have loved so dearly and to whom I continue to look for hope and courage. John Lewis shared, “ We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.” It is not an accident that we are all here together at this moment in time, at Northern Light School--a community; a village that will prove that yes, Impossible is Nothing, and I know that along the way we must and will, “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and save the soul of America”.

Have faith and know that this year will be one of the very best, no matter what.

I love you all so dearly,

Michelle Lewis
Founder, Northern Light School

Future Voter Project

When you read about the history of Northern Light, one thing clearly stands out above the rest: this community develops students who are engaged and empowered – not just as students, but as citizens. 
With the November election, we had a fantastic opportunity to stress some of the concepts, themes, and skills associated with democratic participation, while highlighting the voices of our fantastic students about issues and questions that pique their interest. 
Inspired by Teaching Tolerance's Future Voter Project, along with other schools around the country, we present our NLS “Future Voters Project,” a community-wide effort to address the question, “Why Vote?”, through creative projects, posters, activities, classroom conversations, and more. Joining us in this endeavor are our friends at The People’s Conservatory and Get Empowered, along with our very own FTC.
The Friday before the election, we hosted our virtual Future Voters Morning Circle, featuring reflections from students, faculty, community members, and civic leaders about the meaning and importance of voting.

The event, which we called "Future Voters: Civic Engagement and Youth Voice at NLS and Beyond," reflected the power, brilliance, and beauty of the entire Northern Light Community. The agenda served as a reminder of one of our most sacred tasks – helping young people develop into caring, thoughtful, and engaged citizens!

You can watch footage of the event below, and follow links to inspiring videos featuring the voices of our students, faculty, and community.
More Resources:

Alumni Stories

At Northern Light School, education does not end when a child ventures forth into our global village.  The sense of community they first encounter in our school is rooted deep within their character, and serves them throughout their lives as they continue to positively impact others, and transform the world into a more thriving, beautiful place. 

Come for a Tour

Welcome to our school! As part of the Admissions process, we ask that all families begin with a visit to Northern Light School in order to paint a clear picture of who we are and what we do. Visiting Northern Light School will give you an opportunity to take a glimpse inside our world - to check out our campus, understand the history of NLS, and learn more about our curriculum, culture, and values.

Upcoming Events

Recent News


Our Friend Vida Blue!

Play ball! Our friend and legendary MLB pitcher, Vida Blue, sits down on The Vida Blue Field of Dreams to discuss his legacy on and off the field. He was known for being the hardest-throwing lefty and first African-American pitcher to start an All-Star game, but what’s even more inspiring than his career is his generosity and desire to give back.

NLS Partners with Cars 2nd Chance!

Do you or anyone you know have a car, boat, or RV (running or not) that isn’t being used? Donate it to Cars 2nd Chance to raise money for Northern Light and the greater community!

Holiday Donation Drive with Homie's Empowerment

Northern Light School is excited to announce our Holiday Donation Drive in partnership with Homie’s Empowerment, an Oakland based youth and community development organization, serving over 400 families in the Bay Area and giving out over $20K in food every week!

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