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Educating The Whole Child

Welcome to Northern Light School!

Northern Light School is a dynamic institute of learners, educators and families who come together for the betterment of the individual and the whole community. An oasis of kindness in a world that is often very cruel, our students thrive as they are given agency to be themselves while striving for academic excellence.

Rooted in Oakland since 1989, NLS truly implements a whole student approach which empowers every one of our community members to embrace and explore their identities and experiences in a safe and authentic way. Our faculty and staff are energized and engaged across Pre-K to 8th grades, with everyone in our school knowing and supporting each other. In my 25 years as an educator I have never seen a community that is as close-knit as Northern Light School. It's a dream come true for me to be the Head of School here and I know that our young people embrace the NLS motto of "impossible is nothing" as they carry with them the mission of Northern Light School from here to the world!

Sanjev deSilva
Head of School

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

Black History Month Spirit Week!

Our fabulous Family Teacher Community will be hosting our annual Black History Month Spirit Week the week of February 12-16th. Check out the awesome line up of speakers, dress up days, activities, and more! 

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 Northern Light School! We are delighted that you are exploring Northern Light School as place for your child to learn and grow. We can't wait to introduce you to our community and showcase what makes Northern Light School such a unique place. We invite you to take a look at our Admissions Viewbook and schedule a tour today

Upcoming Events

Recent News


Black History Month Spirit Week

Our fabulous Family Teacher Community hosted our annual Black History Month Spirit Week the week of February 12-16th. Check out the awesome line up of speakers, dress up days, activities, and more!
Open House 2024

Open House 2024

Join us to learn more about our approach to a Whole Child Education at our Open House on Thursday, January 11, 2024 from 6:00-7:30 pm. Open House is an excellent opportunity to visit our campus, see inside the classrooms, and meet our vibrant community. There will be faculty, students, parents, and alumni on site to answer your questions and share their experiences!

Literacy Week!

Northern Light School's FTC is hosting an action-packed Literacy Week 11/13-11/17! Check out the line up of authors, poets, and more!

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