Orchard House School is committed to fostering each girl’s intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, emotional integrity and physical well-being. We are proud of the many key areas that set us apart from other educational institutions.
Students at Orchard House School learn to foster respect and understanding by valuing and respecting individual differences. In addition to the typical markers of diversity—race, religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and family structure— we seek diversity in learning styles, ability and achievement as well as social and study skills. The Admissions' Committee deliberately accepts girls who represent variances in the areas of academics, introversion and extroversion, social skills, learning styles, study skills and leadership skills. We are not looking to accept just the top 10% by ability or academics.
Brain and human dynamic research (Deak, Davies) supports the belief that all children, girls in particular, learn best in an emotionally safe environment. Rather than dismiss or devalue differences, Orchard House girls learn to process differences directly and respectfully. Positive social and group skills are taught through the general curriculum, cross-grade peer relationships, Morning Meetings, CORE, homerooms, and sports teams.
Orchard House fosters risk-taking as a natural facet of learning, requiring exploration from science to sculpture. Faculty build the expectation of risk into their lessons, encouraging students to speak up about uncertainty and celebrating the willingness to tackle discomfort. Students experience an extended focus on one arts discipline per quarter, where they learn to persist in acts of creation that don’t always come naturally to them, culminating in a demonstration of their work during a Studio Day open to the school community. The Arts Block and CORE curricula inform students’ approach to participation in all pursuits, academic, social, athletic, and artistic.
Orchard House School is designed for what works best for girls. This intentionality is seen from the initial admissions process, through the day-to-day experiences, to final graduation. We know that girls grow best and develop confidence through experiences that foster competence. Girls’ connections to the real world and to the people around them are critical to personal engagement and success. Building on and using those strategies deliberately, we focus on questions that foster personal growth as well as the development of thinking and learning. We want our girls to develop a strong, authentic sense of self along with the confidence, tools, people skills, problem-solving ability and critical thinking to go out into the larger world and make a difference.
CORE is at the heart of an Orchard House School education. CORE is a four-year program designed to foster the strong, healthy development of each girl, teach her real world tools for success, and help her develop a global connection to the world. Some classes are taught specifically on Friday afternoons during the CORE block, while others are included in the day-to-day curriculum. CORE imparts 21st century skills with seemingly disparate topics like service learning. financial literacy, the use of hand tools, health, ethics and decision making, specific art projects, public speaking and speechwriting.
Our historic building, located in the heart of the beautiful Fan district allows us to take full advantage of our vibrant Richmond community. Our programs are enriched by our close proximity to a wide range of universities, museums, parks, the state capitol, and monuments. On any given day, you may find our girls at the VMFA for the culmination of their sketching project for math class, at the Science Museum of Virginia attending the Washed Ashore exhibit, or at the SPCA dropping off blankets.
Girls at OHS enjoy friendships and learning opportunities with girls outside of their own grade levels. In the Base Group program, each group is made up with a girl from each grade. The groups meet regularly to take on team building activities, service projects, or just have lunch with one another. Each Eighth Grade girl takes on leadership roles and coordinates her Passion Project with help from her base group. Another treasured relationship is the annual pairing of each Fifth Grade student with an Eighth Grade student. Eighth Grade students provide valuable support and friendly guidance to their Fifth Grade student, creating a special bond that often lasts beyond their time at Orchard House.
If you ask current or former parents what they value most about OHS, often you will hear them mention our faculty. In addition to being experts in their fields, with many holding post-baccalaureate degrees, OHS teachers hold a deep respect for our students. They are committed to knowing each girl and helping her develop into her most confident and authentic self. A robust professional development program ensures that our teachers remain knowledgeable of best practices in their fields and passionate about their work.