Saba Ghole

Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer • NuVu Studio

Saba Ghole is the Chief Creative Officer at NuVu Studio, an innovative, alternative middle and high school focused on teaching students to think creatively and apply their learning to real-world problems.

Photo by Nancy Carbonaro 

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We teach students how to navigate the messiness of the creative process, from inception to completion, by prototyping and testing.

Saba Ghole

NuVu was conceived in 2008 by co-founders and MIT alums Saba Ghole, Saeed Arida, and David Wang as an interdisciplinary innovation lab with students from diverse backgrounds to design real-world solutions to global challenges. Initially, NuVu was envisioned as a full-scale undergraduate school in Saeed’s home city of Damascus, Syria. Finding the difficulties in launching abroad, NuVu’s founding team was connected with an independent school in Massachusetts looking for a program exactly like NuVu to get them off the ground. After a successful pilot program in 2010, Saba returned to Cambridge, MA for the official launch of NuVu Innovation Center in the fall of that year after working on educational projects at Perkins and Will on the West Coast for two years. Within the first five years, the program grew from 20 students each trimester to 50 students each trimester. NuVu has now become a full-time innovation school with around 60 students.

Since launching NuVu, Saba says, “the last few years have been focused on providing greater access to NuVu and creating more impact by empowering students to be active participants in their learning. Since 2016, we’ve been developing an initiative called NuVuX that is focused on partnerships and bringing studio-based curriculum into schools. We help design and support studio experiences in the U.S. and internationally. We want more cross-cultural exchanges and connectivity between schools and we want the studios to foster global awareness among students.”


Students working at NuVu Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Photo courtesy of Saba Ghole

Our structure started with two-week-long intensive studios. We had studios on sci-fi filmmaking, nano-technology, alternative and nuclear energy, even storytelling…we reached out to people doing interesting work, and brought them in to co-coach on their expertise, and saw how much students were invested and engaged in the work, even if they weren’t interested in a certain topic.

Saba Ghole

The NuVu school model grew from a semester-away program that partnered with schools to its own institution. The model is still based on a studio pedagogy. Students work collaboratively on self-selected projects that exercise design research, problem-solving, critical thinking, and design thinking. The project culminates in a final presentation. 

NuVuX emerged from other schools wanting to integrate aspects of NuVu’s pedagogy into their curriculum. NuVu developed an initiative to bring design, creativity, and innovation to K-12 schools and organizations worldwide. Saba and her team worked with each educational partner to create custom curriculum implementation plans. Using NuVu’s design-studio pedagogy and process, students explore real-world topics in a hands-on studio environment. Students work together to solve complex challenges using creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. The NuVuX initiative is expanding NuVu’s reach. It gives students greater access to their learning model–from public and charter schools to organizations supporting refugees in the Middle East.

Like most schools, 2020 was challenging for NuVu Studio. However, Nuvu’s student-based studio model proved successful during the pandemic. The school shifted from being on-site to virtual and hybrid. Before the pandemic, NuVu launched 10-12 virtual studio programs, so the students were familiar with their online platforms. Through the virtual exchange studios, students made global connections and engaged in virtual conversations that explored their topics. Looking forward, Saba wants NuVu to be a household name and to expand the NuVuX partners offering schools access to social-emotional learning strategies and teaching networks. 


NuVu Spring Graduation, 2018

Photo courtesy of Saba Ghole


Can you learn creativity?

Saba Ghole at TEDxSanJoseCA 2012

“Saba Ghole is an architect/urban designer turned education entrepreneur. As the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of NuVu Studio, Saba leads the innovation center for middle and high school students, whose pedagogy is based on the studio model and geared around multi-disciplinary collaborative projects. Her experience in the urban design world exposed her to a myriad of innovative educational projects, including planning the Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh (the world’s largest center of higher learning for women). Saba’s design quirks and lure for adventure constantly fuel her efforts to re-design NuVu’s curriculum and bring inspiring experts to coach students on how to innovate.”

Video by TedxSanJoseCA

More on Saba Ghole

Saba, age 8, with family in India

Photo courtesy of Saba Ghole

The Early Years

“My parents came to the U.S. from India in the late ‘70s. They were an immigrant family wanting to grow a life and career, and they were both in the finance and banking industry. They wanted to be in the U.S., but were also contemplating moving back to India. I was born in Southern California, but my brother and I actually spent a few years living with extended family in my mother’s hometown, which was a very small village in India, starting around when I was three. That was really interesting to have really formative memories being in a large extended family context.”

A Challenging Space

“I decided to go to the architecture program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, though a little bit begrudgingly because MIT was my dream school. But I made the right choice at the time. The environment allowed me to focus on what the studio experience was all about and how to learn again. It was a really challenging space, and I tapped into how to operate in such an open-ended environment. Those years made me reflect on my own process and what I gained through that studio environment. How we designed NuVu is really based on the architecture studio model.”

Photo courtesy of Saba Ghole

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