Some young people who have thrived at NCC
Thirteen-year-old Sophia is a poster child for self-directed education (SDE). She joined The Natural Creativity Center knowing how to use all available resources—materials, tools and people—to help her create what she wanted. An intellectual with an artistic bent, Sophia spied our sewing machine and immediately mastered its idiosyncrasies to sew doll clothes, Halloween costumes and other items.
Sophia is unique in her ability to reach beyond her comfort level; for example, she joined an experienced group in the popular role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons last year with little prior knowledge of the game—the collaborative nature of D&D being a perfect fit for Sophia’s quick mind and agreeable nature.
In her first two years at NCC, she demonstrated a maturity and eagerness to help others that led us to invite her to be a junior intern for her third year. This means that for one day a week, her role at NCC is to initiate and facilitate projects with other youths. Sophia exemplifies the best of NCC’s values, and if she reminds you at all of your young person, NCC might be the place for him or her.
Fifteen-year-old Amani came to NCC to feel safe and follow her diverse personal interests, neither of which had previously been possible for her, bullied and bored at her charter school. She has since extended her natural interest in animals while learning how to animate, construct exotic habitats for live pets, and pursue creative writing—including starting her own novel. She has also advanced multiple “grade levels” in her reading skills with the completion of two difficult novels.
Perhaps most notable, Amani took a great leap forward in self-confidence last summer when she completed a summer internship at the Philadelphia Zoo. Not only did she successfully lead a number of workshops, she also qualified for a follow-up opportunity at the Zoo, which is likely to help her get into college in a few years (should she decide to follow that path).
Mira, seven and a half, has the makings of a true ambassador: she connects, supports, encourages and reports the activities of her diverse “class” mates at NCC; yet she has no problem identifying her own interests, often working at the clay table for hours to produce dozens of cups, bowls, figures and other artifacts in a single sitting.
At times, Mira’s breadth of interests almost seems to keep her from diving in too deeply with a project, but time and again, she will go off to explore something new, or see what this Visiting Artist or that one is up to, and then return to her own work for another round of deep engagement. Along the way, she chats it up and shines her bright light on the environment in ways that ensure she will always have good friends no matter where she roams. And just as you think you have her pegged as a total “people-person”, she will utter an insight that reminds you that the wheels of her logical thinking process never stop turning as well.