The Better Learning Podcast focuses on improvement at all levels of K-12 education. It features discussions with education leaders. industry experts, and changemakers covering various aspects of the learning experience.

The podcast provides valuable insights and practical advice to break down the silos of education and actively drive change!



May 22, 2024

Are traditional schools equipped to prepare our children for a rapidly evolving world?

In the latest episode of the Better Learning podcast, Tom Woelper and John Camp delve into a fascinating conversation about the New England Innovation Academy (NIA), an independent school that's challenging the status quo of education. With backgrounds deeply rooted in both education and entrepreneurship, Woelper and Camp built NIA and are redefining the educational landscape.

NIA isn't just another school; it's a bold experiment in fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, and human-centered design. But what sets it apart from traditional models? And how does it equip students with the skills and mindset needed to thrive in an uncertain future? Discover how the school's physical space mirrors its innovative philosophy, fostering collaboration and a sense of belonging among students.

However, this journey isn't without its challenges. Woelper and Camp candidly discuss the hurdles of moving away from traditional grading systems and the impact of college admissions on education today.

With insights from over 25 years of teaching experience, Camp brings a unique perspective to the table, emphasizing the importance of teaching what cannot be Googled and fostering a culture of hard work. Meanwhile, Woelper's extensive career in independent education shines through, showcasing his dedication to reshaping the educational landscape and serving as a beacon for innovation in schools.


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  • The New England Innovation Academy is an independent school that focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship, and human-centered design.

  • The school aims to prepare students for a rapidly changing world by teaching empathy and fostering an innovator and entrepreneur mindset.

  • The founders of the school have backgrounds in education and entrepreneurship and wanted to create a school that was different from traditional models.

  • The physical space of the school reflects its innovative approach, with open, collaborative areas and a sense of belonging and togetherness.

  • The target market for the school includes families who are dissatisfied with traditional education and want a more innovative and flexible approach. Nia Innovation Academy follows a human-centered approach to education, focusing on integrated learning and project-based learning.

  • The school offers flexibility in scheduling and allows for personalized learning experiences.

  • NIA uses a competency-based assessment system that de-emphasizes grades and focuses on skills and competencies.

  • The college admission process still heavily influences education, but colleges are showing interest in innovative approaches to learning.

  • There is a need for a shift in the K-12 education system to prioritize holistic development and individual strengths rather than solely focusing on grades and college admissions.


Camp (as he goes by), has been teaching in independent schools for over 25 years. His experience includes English and writing classes as well as interdisciplinary courses such as “The Art and Physics of Time Travel.” At St. Mark’s School, which bestowed him with The Trustees Chair and the Kidder Faculty Prize, Camp served as the Director of Experiential Learning and Associate Director of The Center of Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

Tom has had a distinguished 31-year career in independent education, most recently serving as the Head of School of Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, New Jersey. Prior to his tenure at Far Hills, Tom served as the Assistant Head of School and Dean of Academic Life and taught history during his 14 years at The Hotchkiss School. Tom began his career in independent school education as a teaching intern at Groton School and then as a history teacher and Class Dean at The Taft School.


New England Innovation Academy


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Kevin Stoller is the host of the Better Learning Podcast and Co-Founder of Kay-Twelve, a national leader for educational furniture. Find out more about Kevin at

For more episodes of the Better Learning Podcast, visit



Episode 179 of the Better Learning Podcast

Kevin Stoller is the host of the Better Learning Podcast and Co-Founder of Kay-Twelve, a national leader for educational furniture. Learn more about creating better learning environments at


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