New Liberty Innovation School is a high school that responds to the desires and needs of students and families who are looking for an education experience different from the mainstream.  It offers a program that is anchored in three pillars of service: (1) academics through competency-based learning practices, roadmaps to graduation, blended and project-based learning; (2) student supports through a trauma-informed counseling and social-emotional learning pedagogy (i.e. essential habits) and (3) college and career readiness through community-based internships, student-run businesses, and the creation of individual post-secondary plans. Since its founding as an innovation school in 2016, New Liberty has found success through an approach that is rigorous yet responsive, structured yet flexible, and committed to seeing students in the full context of complex lives, with strengths and interests that grow and deepen given the right support and experiences.

new liberty student solving equation


The mission of NLIS is to engage all students in real-life learning about themselves and the world, to empower them to create a positive impact on their communities, and to ensure they have the tools to pursue their goals after graduation.

new liberty students in class


The above tagline, adopted by NLIS in 2017, captures the goals of New Liberty as it seeks to grow its capacity as a community educational hub that attracts and supports students from Salem and surrounding communities in a variety of ways.  NLIS employs progressive educational practices such as blended and project-based learning, dual enrollment, social entrepreneurship, and competency-based curriculum in which students’ life experience, in addition to academic output, can count towards their diplomas.  In the coming five years NLIS envisions growing a Community School approach, featuring comprehensive wrap-around services in the areas of health, financial and career counseling, arts, childcare, and more. 

With a trauma-informed approach anchored by a dynamic student support and counseling team and developed through whole-staff PD sessions throughout the year, staff act as “warm demanders”,1 developing connections with students and their families. Over time these learning partnerships,2 along with a three-pillared program of academics, essential habits, and professional readiness, allow students to develop the independence, self-awareness, and confidence needed to re-engage with their education and prepare for the next step in their lives’ journeys.

At its core, New Liberty seeks to foster independent learners who know what they are working on and how it relates to their learning plan.3 These learning plans are customized, yet all based on the following graduate profile:

Throughout students’ progress toward graduation, they are called upon to apply these skills to the decision-making process of the school, as well as projects in the school, workplace and community, addressing challenges in ways that draw on and deepen lessons from the classroom. As such, NLIS students are not always found within the school building – instead they are allowed and encouraged to grow their skills while involved in hands-on, real-world experiences with partner organizations.

In the upcoming five years, NLIS envisions itself growing into a full-fledged Community School, with the ability to connect students and families with a range of high quality academic, enrichment, and health/social service resources.  While continuing to improve and refine the practices that have made us successful thus far, we are also open to expanding downward into the middle grades, in order to have a chance to make an earlier and more formative impact in the lives of students who are disengaging from school as adolescents.

Salem Public Schools District Core Values

Belonging – We believe all members of our community are valued and that our relationships are built on empathy and respect.

Equity – We believe in promoting social justice to ensure an inclusive school community where all members are empowered and engaged.

Opportunity – We believe all students should receive a personalized experience to achieve academic success, find joy in their learning, and have multiple choices for their post-secondary plans.