SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — When schools open in September and classrooms look a little more like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic upended education and sent students home for virtual learning for more than a year, a new school will be opening in South Orange. The Village School of South Orange is open to enrollment for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The private school, in the middle of South Orange, has been in the works for a while, according to spokesperson Ximena Greenhouse, but was spurred on by the closure of schools during the pandemic.
“It was around last year when some of the parents were looking for private schools,” Greenhouse said in a phone interview with the News-Record on May 25. “They unenrolled from where they were for a lot of reasons. Virtual learning wasn’t working for some.”
Greenhouse said that families who wanted to send their children to private school still faced hurdles, as many of the schools were already full or were too far away.
So far there are 23 students signed up to begin attending the Village School in the fall; applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. Greenhouse said the student-to-teacher ratio will be around 10:1; the head of school position and teaching jobs will be filled by June.
“South Orange–Maplewood doesn’t have a lot of private schools, except the preschools,” she said. “It wasn’t about what (the parents) weren’t finding in the other schools, it was, they wanted another option.”
The school is focusing on hands-on activities and integrating itself and its students into the community. Greenhouse said field trips will be local and incorporated into lessons.
“When we talk about ‘How do we get the food we eat?’ they might plan a budget and then go to the farmers market,” she said. “They’ll interview the farmers and use math skills. It’s integrating what they’re studying with a more hands-on learning experience. There’s space for them to inquire and use that as a tool for what they’re already learning.”
Annual tuition is $19,500 with a $1,000 facilities fee, $300 activities fee and $50 application fee. There is a 10-percent sibling discount and financial aid is available. Applications can be found and submitted at www.villageschoolsouthorange.org; more information about the school is also on the website.