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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Orchard School

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Educational Services, Preschools, Special Education

Mission: The Orchard School was founded in 1990, through the vision of three women, and is supported by the ongoing efforts of its families and the community. Situated in the New Hampshire countryside at the edge of an organic farm and apple orchard, The Orchard School provides access to acres of woods, fields and orchard for exploration. The School building was shaped by the efforts of the community that came together and gave of their time and energy to build it. A unique feature of The Orchard School is that it is cooperatively directed and governed.

Programs: Preschool & kindergarten school servicing 60 students during school year and 165 students in the summer camp program. Education based on a social cirriculum of diversity, awareness and inclusion of special need students.

Community Stories

17 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Orchard School is by far the best pre-school program in the region. Possibly in the country! My older daughter thrived there and now thrives at her public kindergarten. How cool is the Orchard School? My younger daughter sometimes gets mad at me for coming to pick her up too early!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

We were so fortunate to discover the Orchard School. Its nature-based farm setting, along with its emphasis on creativity and natural play, align well with our own philosophies. Both of our daughters have thrived under the attention of the staff and we will be a part of this community for a long time.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Orchard School took care of both of my little boys. My boys had a,fun and magical experience at the Orcard School and as a family we were connected to the school and the school community for over10 years. I was a single and relatively poor mother and the school helped me with my tuition. I have a deep respect and love for such a wonderful school and community.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Orchard School has been wonderful for our family. The role section of the review area needs more options, our children flourished in the pre-school and kindegarten, we have volunteered, made donations knowing it would be appreciated and used thoughtfully, and served on the Board. The early education here is top notch, each child is treated with respect, warmth and caring, and allowed to be themselves - curious, growing individuals. This is a place where not only did my children make friends, so did I. Although it has been several years since they were students there, it is still a place we all like to go to, a place that still comes up in conversation, a place we all feel welcome. I am thankful my children had this foundation, without this grounded beginning, public school would have been even more difficult to navigate. I am thankful for the connections made while at The Orchard School, a vast number of amazing, talented, kind, fun people, both youth and adults that are always a joy to see.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have spent over ten years working in the field of early childhood education and no other school stands out in such an exceptional was as The Orchard School. The children and their families are supported here by a strong, dynamic and caring community that is committed to real people in real time. Three and four year olds develop a strong sense of belonging, ownership, responsibility and respect of self and others. Older children in the summer camp programs are provided with opportunities to expand their communities and sense of respect into other cultures and ways of learning. I cannot speak highly enough of the work this educational community does!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Orchard School is more than just the best early education center, it is truly a community. The teachers go above and beyond, providing children with the building blocks they need to be confident and successful students. My children emerged from their Orchard School years braver, smarter and happier. The play based curriculum allows children the opportunity to really enjoy learning which is a wonderful way to start out your educational journey.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was referred to the Orchard School at age 3 for preschool as part of her IEP. Along with receiving speech and OT services as part of her day, she also had the opportunity to interact with her peers and become more comfortable being away from home. Two years later her brother joined the preschool program, and continued through kindergarten. Their preschool and kindergarten years were filled with play, art, creativity, learning, stories, pretend, friends, and plenty of time outdoors in all seasons. Both of my children then graduated on to our nearby town public school for the elementary grades. Finishing the day programs at the Orchard School did not end our connection to them, however, They continued on with the summer camp programs that they had started attending in preschool. Over the years, they have grown up through the levels of the summer camp, from preschool Stars, to young elementary Suns, to themed weekly camps, and now to counselors in training! Over the years they have learned songs, crafts, drumming, comics, photography, rocket launching, swimming, woods and farm exploration, cooperating and sharing with others, cooking from the farm, and so much more. My daughter, who is now 14, had her first counselor in training experience last summer with the elementary age drumming and mask making camp. The lead counselor told me at the end of camp that my daughter really found her voice during that week. She said, "At the beginning of the week she seemed shy and not sure what to do. By the end of the week she could look around, see what needed to happen, and took it upon herself to do what needed to be done." It was a tremendously proud moment for me! For the past several years, my two children (my son is now 13) have also participated in the after school Farmers and Foragers program. They have learned so much about farming, animal care, building, cooking, being in the forest, sustainability, care for the environment, and working to understand the greater earth systems that connect everything together. I have learned so much from them on our rides home on Monday afternoons when they share their adventures from the day. I cannot thank the Orchard School and the greater Orchard Hill community for the care, support and opportunities for learning and growing that they shared with our family. We are so lucky to be so close to this incredible organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I had decided to homeschool our kids, and then we moved to the area and followed the buzz about The Orchard School. When we came for our first visit I felt so overjoyed and relieved that a school like this exists that I actually cried. We have been involved with The Orchard School for the past four years and in that time I have come to realize just how valuable this school is to families in our community. This school that is intentionally focused on developmentally appropriate, nature based, and community oriented programming is unique and critical to the children and families it serves. The school strengthens our community by creating community around the children. This is a place where children thrive, and families grow.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Orchard School is by far the best early education available in the area! Their programs offer community building, social diversity, and environmental awareness in such a way as to reach each and every child and family that passes through their door. Being a part of The Orchard School has truely touched the hearts and minds of this family and many others as well.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Having served as a Trustee on The Orchard School Board of Trustees has been an incredible learning experience for me. This organization has developed from a grassroots effort into an organization that serves the area with high quality education in it's many varied programs. The collaborative manner in which the Board and Staff work together to fulfill the mission is inspiring.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My involvement with the Orchard School has been both professional and as a friend. It is a unique, important and quite wonderful school. There is appreciation, support, and skilled professional instruction available for each child. The curriculm is developmentally appropriate, fun, environmentally conscious, family supportive and successful.

Board Member

Rating: 5

My daughter Nora had the most amazing early childhood education experience at The Orchard School. I was so inspired that I have stayed on the board of trustees long after she finished the program. I cannot think of a more worthy organization to devote my time and financial support to. The school and educators at The Orchard School are helping to develop a new generation of global citizens that will help make the world all that we know it can be.

Kellie G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

During my junior year at Keene State College I was assigned to do my internship at The Orchard School. I have never seen a better preschool program. The staff and children were so inviting and I could't have been placed at a better place to learn and grow. I decided to stay and work as a teacher during their summer camp. The summer camp allowed me to meet new children and make friends with staff that I know will be with me for the rest of my life. The Orchard School is the family I do not have in New Hampshire. Whenever I have needed anything or wanted a smile on my face I have gone there and seen the staff and children. During my time there I have seen inclusion at it's best. Children can truly be children there and disabilities never get in the way. Because of The Orchard School I decided to go on and get my Masters in Special Education. I wanted to be as great of a teacher and mentor as their staff. I know that The Orchard School will always be there for me and I will always keep them as a part of my life. I would recommend their program to all families and encourage people to really look into their program because there is something there that fits every family and child's needs and strengths.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter hayley went to the orchard school from ages 2 to present. I love everyone at the orchard school. They really take their time with the children. They are so amazing I couldn't imagine my daughter going anywhere else.

Danielle26

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What this school is doing for their students and community is highly commendable. They exceed expectations and go above and beyond for all individuals. Simply put, I love this school!!! There needs to be more of their kind in our nation.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization brings the meaning of "it takes a village" to a whole new level. Our experience with this organization has been nothing short of amazing. We started sending our daughter to preschool at the Orchard School because it nature based philosophy. We stayed with the school because of their emphasis on inclusiveness, their respect for children and families, and the unwavering emphasis on building a program that connects children to the land at every stage of a child’s development. The Orchard School is more than the sum of its programs, it’s the heart of the community, my community.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We came to the Orchard School looking for an educational/social building block for our children, and we discovered so much more -- a warm gathering of caring individuals, working hard to serve their community and their students in equal measure. The Orchard School has changed our children's lives by providing them with a safe, kind environment where they can learn, grow, and feel valued. It's such a special place, and I can't imagine the community without it.