The Orchard School’s mission is to develop and educate the whole child. As a progressive, non-sectarian, independent school, Orchard commits to advance each student’s academic success, self-confidence, open mindedness, ethical character, leadership, and love of learning.
Orchard serves preschool through eighth grade. This is the 98th year of successful outcomes at The Orchard School. Orchard provides a Progressive education with a focus on experiential hands-on learning.
Related Article: Q & A with The Orchard School
Q&A with The Orchard School: Early Learning Program:
What makes Orchard unique?
Our 43-acre wooded campus provides many outdoor learning spaces letting us stay true to our commitment that nature is the best teacher.
The Orchard School strives to provide students with a Progressive education, which includes hands-on learning, collaboration between teachers and students, and fostering of active citizenship. This approach to a student-focused education sets us apart from other traditional private schools.
The Orchard School is also accredited by the Independent Schools Association of Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. This ensures that we meet the high standards of these organizations.
What is Orchard’s educational philosophy?
In our progressive approach, we’re able to utilize the best practices from several educational approaches.
What is Orchard’s age/grade range?
Orchard serves preschool through eighth grade. For more info about the whole school read the Q & A with The Orchard School.
What is your enrollment policy? Are there any key dates parents should be aware of?
Our goal through the admissions process is to help you determine if The Orchard School is the best educational fit for your child and your family.
Orchard does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or age in its admissions process, its programs or its activities. The application deadline for first round placement is January 31, 2022.
For more information on how to apply, visit orchard.org/admissions/how-to-apply.
What are the standard school day hours? Does Orchard offer flexible day/hour options? Is before/after school care available?
School begins at 8am and we dismiss at 3:20pm. Our Preschool program offers two options for families: 5 day or 3 day (T/W/TH). Before and after school care (Kids Connect) is available in the mornings from 7:00 a.m.- 8:00 a.m. and from 3:20 p.m.- 6:00 p.m. An additional fee is assessed for Kids Connect.
How many children are in each class? How are children divided up up?
Our average class size can be between 14-18 children. Our program is based on developmental ranges and chronological age as a multiage and multi-year experience, serving children ages 3-5. Some classes may be balanced across by age, and others may be structured around one chronological and/or developmental age, depending on the year.
*Each multiage preschool classroom has their own outdoor classroom space
What is the teacher/child ratio?
Each Early Childhood classroom has two, highly-qualified, full-time teachers. We use a co-teaching model and include our Specialists teachers in our Early Childhood curriculum, expanding the number of adults our students interact with daily. Our maximum student:teacher ratio is 9:1.
What are the teacher’s credentials?
All of our teachers have a minimum of a college degree. Most have specialities in Early Childhood (preschool-Grade 2). Our teachers have specialized training in Outdoor Education and implement it across their daily curriculum. Several of our teachers regularly present at national conferences featuring our unique, nature-based approach.
Is parental participation required?
Families are partners at Orchard. We rely on strong relationships between our teachers and families in any school year. Teachers connect with families for conferences during the school year, highlighting children’s academic and social-emotional growth. There are several opportunities for families to engage with our community. We offer volunteer opportunities and family-friendly events throughout the year.
During COVID regulations, we do not allow non-essential outside visitors, including families, into the school building.
How do teachers communicate with parents? How often do parents receive updates?
We communicate with families regularly using SeeSaw as an online portfolio tool for each student. The school also offers a robust social media suite, website and e-communications about school-wide events and announcements.
Does Orchard offer support for students with special needs?
We are able to offer limited academic learning support. We will gladly accept any evaluations or assessments during your application process to help determine if we are able to meet your child’s learning needs.
How much time do the children spend outside?
Our classes spend as much time as possible outdoors, making use of our 43-acre campus. Each classroom has at least one, dedicated outdoor classroom space and access to the entire campus, all day, every day. Each class has at least one recess period per day, and most often students and teachers can be found outdoors for literacy, math and science lessons.
Related Article: The Orchard School’s New Nature Playgrounds
Nature as Teacher is a fundamental tenant of The Orchard School for nearly 100 years. Being outside is not just about free play for our students, it’s a fully integrated part of their academic and social-emotional experience.
Are meals and/or snacks provided?
We provide a full lunch service (hot or cold) and two snacks daily.
Does my child need to be potty-trained?
Upon entering The Orchard School, your child must be independent in taking care of all their bathroom needs. We understand that even toilet trained children will occasionally have toileting accidents.
What enrichment programs/activities are offered?
Helping families identify and maximize a child’s strengths is a benefit of an Orchard education. Individual attention and time to allow students to express themselves as learners gives our teachers unique insight into opportunities that families can utilize in and outside of the school day. Some clubs and classes are offered after school for Early Childhood students. During the school day, teachers are able to adapt and integrate a variety of provocations to connect to enrich a child’s connection to the curriculum and daily experiences.
What are Orchard’s safety policies? What extra safety measures is Orchard taking during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Entrance to school includes a background check and identification badges. The doors to the building are locked after arrival, guests enter via the main entrance of the school, and are let in by the receptionist. Our teachers are each equipped with a walkie-talkie and can easily request help as needed. Orchard adheres to common school safety protocols.
During COVID regulations, students and staff complete a health and temperature screening each day. The complete back-on-campus plan can be found at orchard.org/backoncampus.
Who should parents contact for more information about Orchard?
For questions about our curriculum or program offerings, you can contact Heather Girton (Early Childhood and Elementary Director) at [email protected].
For questions about admissions and flexible tuition, contact [email protected].