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2nd Nature Academy (SNA) Elementary, Middle, & High School is a student-centered educational community that fosters inquiry, exploration, experience, and achievement.  Our unique and original educational model combines elements of skills-based curricula, Problem Based Learning,  Place-Based Learning, transdisciplinary studies, and whole child philosophy. We strive to develop well-rounded and independent critical thinkers who are able to create, communicate, collaborate, and conquer challenges, in order to contribute fully to society.  We are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

A Message From the Founder

Debbie Gleeson

Deborah Gleeson, M.Ed.

Welcome to 2nd Nature Academy. We are a community that values individuality and diversity, and a collaborative learning environment that  fosters student engagement and meaningful collaboration.

A lifelong New Englander, I grew up with parents and teachers who nurtured my curiosity and creativity. While I thoroughly enjoyed and excelled in school, the traditional classroom is not where I flourished. Rather, I thrived by exploring the outdoors and engaging in creative activities. When we began raising our own young family, my husband and I provided similar experiences for our three daughters. We quickly recognized that our girls learned best through hands-on, inquiry-based learning opportunities as well as outdoor adventures. While they too did well in school, they were most engaged and at their happiest when they were given opportunities to explore, inquire, create, and make meaningful, real world connections in an environment that made them feel safe and nurtured. I know that my family is not unique in this and that is probably why you find yourself here.

Nestled in our quiet, little corner of Nashua, NH, 2nd Nature Academy has found a unique way to nurture curious minds and foster critical thinking and problem solving. Diverse experiences for developing intelligence, potential, and ability are at the heart of 2nd Nature Academy, where passion and resilience drive achievement. Creativity, imagination, curiosity, and social-emotional well-being are valued as much as math and literacy for educational success. 


What started out as a small prekindergarten program has grown into a well-established educational community for children of all ages. I am immensely proud of 2nd Nature Academy and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for the future.


The Foundation of SNA

2nd Nature Academy (formerly The Nature of Things) was founded in 1997 by Debbie Gleeson (M.Ed., Antioch New England University). Disheartened by the state of education, she enrolled in graduate school. With the encouragement of her husband and soon to be business partner, Denis Gleeson (MBA, Boston University), as well that of the Antioch staff, Debbie began work on a novel concept for her Master’s thesis project: Establishing a school. Nearly twenty-five years later, that inaugural prekindergarten class has grown into a full-fledged "farm, field, and forest" campus.

Today, 2nd Nature Academy is situated on an idyllic, sprawling campus in south Nashua, NH, which is also home to:

  • Nature's Pathways (early childhood education)

  • Camp Lovewell (outdoor summer day camp)

  • The Enrichment Center (STEAM education)

  • Athlete's Competitive Edge (ACE) (youth athletics)

​These businesses all exist to support a collective mission to serve as an educational community committed to lifelong learning and whole living. With the help of many dedicated education professionals, administrators, and support staff, the programs continue to expand.

From the start, it was Debbie's mission to instill a love for learning in her students from an early age, drawing from 21st Century Learning and Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory and building a highly integrated curriculum focused on the power of nature-based outdoor education, environmental sciences, developmentally appropriate practices, humane education, and a literature-based approach to learning.


The Nature of Things, LLC founded as a small prekindergarten program (now known as Nature's Pathways at 2nd Nature Academy)


2nd Nature Academy Elementary School founded


2nd Nature Academy Middle School founded


The Nature of Things, LLC awarded "Women Owned Business of the Year" for New Hampshire and New England Categories by U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)


The Nature of Things, LLC nominated for Enterprise Bank "Business of the Year"


2nd Nature Academy High School founded


2nd Nature Academy's 25th anniversary


What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.​

The 5 Steps of Project-Based Learning

Identify a unique challenge or problem (i.e. driving question).


Investigate the challenge using the inquiry process and apply ideas in the discipline.


Explore the ideas and challenge them through collaborative activities.


Utilize the inquiry process to refine products.


Develop the summative product that addresses the challenge or problem and publicly share it.

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Inquiry-based learning is an approach to learning that emphasizes the student's role in the learning process. Rather than the teacher telling students what they need to know, students are encouraged to explore the material, ask questions, and share ideas.

Inquiry-based learning uses different approaches to learning, including small-group discussion and guided learning. Instead of memorizing facts and material, students learn by doing. This allows them to build knowledge through exploration, experience, and discussion.

The 4 Steps of Inquiry-Based Learning

Question: Students develop questions that they are hungry to answer.


Research: Investigate the topic using time in class.


Present: Have students present what they've learned.


Reflect: Ask students to reflect on what worked about the process and what didn't.


Embedded in our school mission are the "5Cs." These five themes lay the foundation upon which a 2nd Nature Academy education is built. By prioritizing critical thinking, collaboration, community connections, creativity, and communication in our pedagogy, 2nd Nature Academy creates well-rounded students who are better able to grow into positively contributing members of society, whether that be in college, career, or life.

Critical Thinking

Teaching the ability to think rationally and clearly


Teaching the ability to

work well with others

Community Connections

Teaching the

ability to feel, show, and act on sympathy and empathy, and to be an active part of a larger community


Teaching the ability to think outside the box and innovate


Teaching the ability to connect with others, to present oneself and one's ideas, and to listen well

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