The School’s Promise: Our Alumni in the World

Our world’s many challenges demand new, bold, and imaginative solutions. They call for individuals with strengths of compassion, knowledge, courage, and creativity.

Upon graduation, our students gain admission to some of the Bay Area’s most rigorous and top-rated high schools:

Marin School of the Arts

Marin Academy

Stuart Hall

Marin Catholic

San Domenico

Sonoma Academy


And while there, or once in college, they unleash their strengths in remarkable ways:

Class of 2006
Building a school for girls in
war-torn Afghanistan

Class of 2005
Blogging on feminist issues while traveling across
South America

Class of 2008
Winning a $10,000 scholarship from the prestigious Steve Silver Foundation

Class of 2009
Publishing in the 2013 Young Writers Anthology

Class of 2011
Crowdfunding online for
a Robotics Project

Such are the young individuals shaped and educated at the  Novato Charter School:







Seizing the World

We are proud to have helped nurture and educate these future thinkers, leaders, artists and visionaries.

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JUST IN! Teya Neff – Class of 2010

NCS was fabulous for Teya in every way. I think she learned to interact confidently with adults from an early age, and the value of this cannot be overestimated. All the little things – eye contact, daily greetings, emphasis on narration in teaching – they really do add up.

I also find it notable that Teya, who was perhaps not in full possession of her long limbs in middle school (she is now 6 feet tall), always felt welcome at athletic events. I think she might have even won a few “grace and beauty” awards. If someone had told me 4 years ago that Teya would be playing Division I athletics, I would have laughed! Perhaps the inclusiveness of NCS physical activity helped her feel comfortable with sport. I think it’s also worth noting that her extremely intense, very-non-Waldorf Taiwanese high school volleyball coach had a lot to do with it too, but life is about balance, right?

Cal Women’s Sand Volleyball just won a prestigious award at Berkeley – they achieved for Fall semester, as a team, the highest overall GPA of any sport, a combined 3.60. And Teya was on the high end of that average!

Teya’s season starts today (March 6, 2015), as Cal travels to Stanford for a three day sand volleyball tournament. Teya was chosen to represent the team on its website, to contribute a weekly blog which she calls “Teya’s Tidbits.” Here is a link to that blog.

Anyway, just wanted to say “thank you” to the ethos of NCS, we feel it played a big part in Teya’s confidence and enjoyment of life’s education. She’s off into the world and loving it.

Sam Neff

Ruby Pinyuh-Derovan – Class of 2012

Ruby is a Task Force Member with Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity (AHO), a non-profit organization that assists homeless and at-risk youth of Marin County. She helped paint a 64-square-foot traveling community mural to raise awareness for youth homelessness. She has given presentations to community members and schools, and attended the Bioneers Conference as a youth spokesperson and slam-poet.  She has also helped host fundraisers for AHO. She was recently nominated for a Heart of Marin Youth Award.

Soren Peterson – Class of 2013

Soren placed into a more challenging Spanish class as well as Geometry, thanks to his gifted teachers [Mary Holt and Andrea Srivastava] and their curriculum. Soren has also developed wonderful relationships with his teachers and has advocated for himself when necessary. This ease in which he communicates with adults is absolutely a NCS gift. He trusts adults and feels he can approach staff to help him navigate through his coursework. He is happy, healthy, thriving AND he made straight As this semester, in fact an A+ in Geometry.

Christian Johansen – Class of 2011

Back in 2008, Christian, then just about 10 years old, when interviewed about the Novato Charter School’s Inquiry-Based Science Program said: “I really like space and the mystery of space and complex physics.” Christian later brought this nascent fascination  to bear on a small remote-control robot built as his 8th Grade project. While a Junior at Sonoma Academy, Christian’s project to create a prototype for a low-cost, easy-to-use, Robot designed for use in the average household, was successfully funded through the Kickstarter’s Crowdfunding Platform. In 2014 he applied for Early Admission to MIT.

Hayden Kinney – Class of 2009

Hayden was recently published in the 2013 Young Writers Anthology – now available on Amazon.  It is produced by Verbaleyze Writers Cooperative.  He was one of nine young writers selected from many contestants across the country.  He has a poem and a short story in the anthology. Hayden graduated from Sonoma Academy today, and is attending Reed College in Portland in the fall.

Jake Brinskele – Class of 2008

Jake won a $ 10,000 scholarship from the prestigious Steve Silver Foundation and Beach Blanket Babylon “Scholarship for the Arts.” Jake is on his way to Carnegie Mellon University. More on:

William Morris – Class of 2012

For his final 8th Grade Project, Will created a wonderful and funny documentary on the Novato Charter School. He is currently a freshman at the Marin School of Environmental Leadership at Terra Linda High School and enjoying it very much. This fall, as part of Project Week at MSEL, Will will be making a new documentary film about Bay Water Quality. Watch his creative piece here. To learn more about the Novato Charter School’s 8th Grade Project Night click here.

Cameron Vanderscoff – Class of 2003

Cameron Vanderscoff graduated from NCS in 2003.  He went on to Novato High School and the Marin School of the Arts.  He graduated magna cum laude from UC Santa Cruz in 2011, and holds degrees in history and literature (focus in creative writing), with honors in both majors.  He was a member of the school’s mock trial team (which made an underdog appearance at Nationals and won a country-wide award), a three-year resident assistant, a librarian, and the commencement speaker for his ceremony.  He is currently a freelance oral historian for UCSC’s Regional History Project, where he gets the chance to research, record and compile the stories of figures relevant to campus history.  Beyond these academic and professional spheres, he is a writer, a musician and a nascent traveler. He can be reached at Cameron delivered a powerful and eloquent speech at the Farewell Reception for Rachael Bishop (Director of NCS until 2012) on June 2. Read it here.

Juliana Schwartz – Class of 2005

Juliana is currently a student at UC Santa Cruz, and enjoying her Junior Year Abroad. After a semester studying in Rio de Janeiro, and a few months traveling in Argentina, she will be interning with Libelula, an NGO that works with adolescent girls and reproductive health in the northern state of Bahia. She blogs about feminist issues (with a focus on Latin America) at You can also follow her travels at her travel/photography blog According to Juliana, NCS had a huge influence on her creative work. “At NCS, we were always taught that we were capable of creating whatever we wanted, as long as we had the persistence and ambition. As a blogger, you need both, along with good writing skills and a creative eye. I can attribute most of the skills I have developed in my work to NCS.”

Percy Stubbs – Class of 2006

For the last four years Percy has led an effort to fund and build schools for girls in war-torn Afghanistan: Schools for Kabul. Having completed their first school with a capacity for 200 students, the group is currently engaged in raising money for scholarships.

Zane Gregorian – Class of 2009

“Zane received the highest grade ever given in his health class and is one of the top two students in his geometry class for which half of the class are upperclassmen. He is receiving straight A’s and Zane says his preparation at the Novato Charter School has given him everything he needs to succeed.”

Haley Schwartz – Class of 2009

By the way, Haley got her mid-semester assessment and grades with comments from all her teachers. She has all A’s and some wonderful comments about her work and attitude, plus helpful critiques about how to keep learning well. Alan and I immediately thought of sending them to you to see! But I think we will just thank you for all your dedication, once again. I know that Tai also did beautifully so far, with all A’s, while also being on the JV volleyball team. Brooke and I talked about how it is largely because of you that they have been able to enter such a rigorous school as Marin Academy and stay organized. We were expecting more struggles and would have been fine with B’s, etc. So, kudos!!! You should be proud!!

Lydia Karg

“I went to Novato Charter School when it was first starting. My teacher was Mary Holt from first through fourth grade and she was an amazing teacher. Now, as a college student at the University of Utah, I still think back to days in her classroom often. I feel like she did so much more than just try to teach myself and all the other students. I learned so much from her, and this school’s program in the few years I attended. I wanted you to know that everything I gained, I use in my daily life. Sometimes a small piece of knowledge that had been forgotten will surprise me, and it is all due to this wonderful school. I just wanted to give my thanks.

Keep up the good work and please pass my greetings on to Mrs. Holt. She is a terrific lady and I hope life has been kind to her. I think of her often and wish her the best.”

Hannah Hogan – Class of 2005

“I loved going to this school, it shaped me and helped me become the person I am today. It has fabulous teachers and a wonderful curriculum. It involves the arts in school which so many schools today are lacking, and helps children develop and discover who they are and be extremely proud to be that person.”

Carson Dohemann – Class of 2007

Carson is currently at San Marin High, and plays Varsity Football and Golf. The Summer of 2010 will find him doing volunteer work for the Daraja Academy in Kenya, Africa.

Mat “Twain” Davidson – Class of 2000

Mat graduated MA in 2004 with a scholarship to U of Redlands (Johnston Center for Integrated Studies) and then went on to Berklee College of Music in Boston on a North American World tour scholarship for mandolin. He is now playing about 20 instruments on tour.

He was featured musician with Low Anthem on the David Letterman show in January 2010, and has toured all over Europe and the United States with this group. Low Anthem appeared in San Francisco on March 26th at the Great American Music Hall. They will also be on main stage at the Newport Folk Festival this summer, and in the midst of a world tour for Nonesuch Records.

Read what James Schwartz, outgoing parent, has to say on what it’s meant to be an NCS family.

James Schwartz letter [86k pdf]

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