About Us


Northern Waters Environmental School (NWES) is an environmentally focused, project-based learning community designed to take student learning beyond the four walls of the classroom.

NWES is a full-time school, where students in grades 6-12 learn all academic subjects - reading, mathematics, science, and social studies - through integrated, hands-on projects and field-based inquiry.

At NWES, we believe community partnerships are essential to the learning process. Students will develop the 21st century skills needed to be successful beyond their school years: collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.

NWES is a part of the Hayward School District who contracts with the Northern Waters Board of Directors, which is made up of community members and parents, to operate the school.


NWES at a Barn


History of Northern Waters

Located deep in the northwoods of Wisconsin, Hayward seemed to many to be the perfect location for a project-based, environmental charter school.  After hearing about a successful environmental middle school in Southern Wisconsin, the administration from Hayward Community Schools set out to develop a school where students in the district could connect their learning with the abundant natural resources of the area. In January of 2011, Ms. Brittany Hager (Roberts) was hired to write a Charter School Planning Grant. The grant was submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in April of 2011. Upon receipt of the grant the following August, Ms. Hager planned for the school’s opening during the 2011- 2012 school year.


In a classroom located within the traditional middle school, Northern Waters opened with 20 middle school students and one teacher (Ms. Hager) during the 2012- 2013 school year. The following year the school expanded to two classroom sizes with 20 students in order to better facilitate project-based and field-based learning.


As students approached their eighth-grade year at Northern Waters and more students applied to attend than seats were available; it was evident that it was time for the school to expand. Working together with the District, the Northern Waters Board of Directors developed a plan to expand through grades 10 and hire an additional teacher.  Mr. Mike Siverling was welcomed to Northern Waters in April of 2014 and the school moved to a stand-alone building (formerly the Workforce Development Center) on the Hayward Community District Campus. Northern Waters opened with two teachers, one field biologist, and 33 students in grades six through ten in the 2014- 2015 school year. In the 2015- 2016 school year, the school expanded through grade twelve. Northern Waters Environmental School currently serves 42 students in grades 6-12. 

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