An Overview from the President of Fuqua School, Ruth S. Murphy
For our nation to prosper, all students, whether living in a city or on a small farm, must have the opportunity to learn and grow to their fullest potential. Historically, however, education has been distributed inequitably, with programs for students in rural America often lagging behind those of their more affluent urban peers.
In reviewing the literature on effective "rural education" in America, two defining characteristics consistently appear: 1) exposure of students to learning which will enable them to work and successfully compete within either a rural or non-rural environment (broaden their perspective of the world as well as their skills), and 2) the inclusion and even enhancement of the classically "rural" values of honesty, integrity, and hard work. These characteristics provide the simple yet powerful base upon which Fuqua (pronounced "few-kwa") School is built.
Located in Farmville, Virginia, Fuqua School's vision is to become the most outstanding pre-kindergarten through grade twelve independent school in rural America and to serve as a national model for educational excellence. Formerly Prince Edward Academy, which was established in 1959, Fuqua School began its bold transformation in 1993 through the generosity and leadership of the late Mr. J.B. Fuqua of Atlanta, Georgia, who grew up near Farmville. The J. B. Fuqua Foundation, Inc., has invested over $12 million in the School, helping it move aggressively toward fulfilling its mission.
J.B. Fuqua was a nationally known businessman and philanthropist, who provided the creative vision and personal effort to initiate multiple programs to improve the world in which we live. Most renowned for his support of Duke University, primarily Duke's Fuqua School of Business, he contributed to numerous education institutions, including Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University, both located in Prince Edward County. Among other projects, he endowed the Fuqua Heart Center at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta and contributed significantly to the Atlanta Union Mission, a shelter for homeless men.
Although Farmville is a small town of approximately 6,500 residents, it is the hub of commercial activity for over 100,000 people within a 30-mile radius. The population from which the School draws is economically and socially diverse. Parents often work multiple jobs to pay tuition, recognizing it is an investment for a lifetime. For them, Fuqua School provides the opportunity for their children to pursue an academic program which will lead to higher education.
Fuqua School is an independent, co-educational, non-sectarian day school, which enrolls approximately 400 students in pre-kindergarten through grade twelve. These students reside in thirteen counties in rural Southside Virginia. Transportation to and from the School is provided daily with routes extending as far as 60 miles from Farmville.
Fuqua School seeks to be inclusive by serving all interested and qualified students in the area.
Faculty and Staff
A school is no better than its human resources, and Fuqua School actively recruits outstanding professionals at all levels. With over 100 employees, Fuqua is one of the top 10 employers in Prince Edward County. Fuqua School recognizes the importance of staff development to the ongoing improvement of the education program. All teachers are encouraged to participate in continual professional growth activities, and workshops are provided on campus to meet specific objectives.
Located on a 60-acre campus in the "Heart of Virginia," Fuqua School facilities include: an 18,000 square foot Lower School Commons, the Wall Memorial Building with gymnasium and stage, the Gee-Price Building, fifty classrooms, two library media centers, three computer laboratories, two science laboratories and a nature trail, two music centers, two art centers, a theatre studio, an applied industrial technology workshop, cafeteria facilities, extensive athletic fields, a quarter-mile track, tennis courts, a weight room, a swimming pool complex, and playground areas. Fuqua School is a one-hour drive from Richmond and Lynchburg. It is also in close proximity to many historic sites, including Appomattox and Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. With several colleges and universities nearby, such as the University of Virginia, Hampden-Sydney, and Longwood, Fuqua School has excellent access to unique opportunities beyond its physical boundaries.
Fuqua School's instructional program is designed to respond to the needs of each student and emphasizes the development of individual strengths. Its comprehensive curriculum (Performance Standards) includes competencies outlined in the Virginia Standards of Learning and those recognized as essential by other exemplary schools and school districts. The School uses alternative structures to ensure optimal learning and promote social and emotional growth.
The Lower School (pre-kindergarten through grade five) is multi-aged and emphasizes developmental practices. Classes consist of two age levels, and students typically remain with the same teacher for two years, increasing continuity of learning. Students are diagnosed in the areas of reading and mathematics to determine appropriate instructional levels and advance at their own pace without limits to that advancement (continuous-progress learing). Art, music, media, computer, and physical education classes are provided weekly by specially trained teachers. These classes are scheduled in blocks of time to reduce fragmentation of the instructional day and to create planning time for classroom teachers. In addition, students visit the science lab weekly for hands-on experiences under the guidance of a science lab coordinator. The average class size is 17 students with a full-time teacher assistant in each pre-kindergarten through grade three classroom, and a part-time assistant in each classroom for grades four and five.
At the Middle School level (grades six through eight), instruction is delivered through planning teams in order to monitor both learning and social/emotional well-being as well as to allow flexible scheduling for maximum instructional time. Each team teaches cooperatively to expand concepts across the curriculum and meets daily to plan and assess student progress. In addition to the core subjects of language arts, social studies, math, and science, students are required to take courses in technology and Latin (grade 7) and to explore a range of elective offerings. The average class size is 17. One full-time teacher assistant provides clerical back-up.
The Upper School (grades nine through twelve) operates on a semester block schedule through which students complete traditional year courses in one semester by taking only four classes at a time rather than seven. This scheduling system increases time-on-task and reduces fragmentation of the instructional day. Class periods last approximately 85 minutes, providing instructional flexibility. In addition to a wide range of courses on campus, including advanced placement and honors options, students are able to take courses at Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University. Class sizes range from three to twenty-four, with the average size being seventeen.
The School places emphasis on active, hands-on learning, "real-life" experiences, and character development. Multiple resources, including technology applications, are used to facilitate instruction. The program is not "textbook driven." All students participate in activities which involve "giving back to the community" and are required to complete forty hours of community service in grades 9-12 in order to graduate. An ethical issues seminar for rising juniors and seniors reflects the School's commitment to the classically rural values of honesty, integrity, and hard work. Through the "Extended Campus" program, older students engage in job-shadowing and are able to work during school hours in coordination with the School. Students frequently participate in field experiences from day trips to week-long trips to sites as far away as Europe.
Fuqua School strongly endorses the arts and is extremely proud of its award-winning band, theater program and young graphic artists and musicians. In addition to general music, piano is offered weekly at the Lower School. Students also participate in a wide range of extra-curricular offerings, including athletics, student clubs, and social activities.
The School maintains high expectations for academic achievement and behavior. Behavior guidelines and dress regulations were collaboratively developed through committees composed of students, teachers, and parents and are reviewed annually. These standards emphasize students taking responsibility for their own actions and are clearly articulated to the School community.
98% of our graduates go on to college, and since 2002 our graduates have been offered collectively over $24 million dollars in academic scholarships.
Application of Advanced Technology
Fuqua School has a technology-rich environment with a student to computer ratio of 2:1 (which includes five computers in every lower school classroom, three computer labs, two automated media centers, and administrative hardware, all connected through a network). In addition to computers, every classroom is equipped with a television, DVD player, and telephone. Science classrooms and labs also house high-tech science equipment. Cablevision provides immediate access to distance learning throughout the School. All areas of the School - classrooms, common areas, administrative offices - have direct Internet access, which serves as a major instructional as well as operational resource.
All faculty members and administrators have been trained in the use of technology as a learning tool as well as a tool for classroom management. Teachers are also exposed to additional training as new applications are made available. An in-depth technology curriculum is incorporated in the School's Performance Standards (comprehensive curriculum).
Fuqua School employs a full-time technology specialist who maintains the system, thus avoiding long-term shutdowns of equipment.
The major objectives of Fuqua School's use of technology are to:
- reinforce and expand student learning (use of instructional computer software, online reference materials, the Internet, and video resources),
- provide students with tools to develop quality work products (use of word processing, spread sheets, and other related computer software packages),
- expand student access to information, linking them to all parts of the world,
- provide students with technology skills which can be applied outside of the school setting, and
- maintain an efficient school operation (use of classroom management and administrative applications).
Governance, Planning, Decision-making
Fuqua School is governed by the Rural Education Foundation Board of Directors. Charged with overseeing the School's operations, financial well-being, and the development of policies, the Board is comprised of seven to fifteen members.
The administration at Fuqua School recognizes the importance of teacher empowerment and shared decision-making. As a result, the School operates through a collaborative model of school management, involving faculty in the planning and decision-making process.
Fuqua School understands that paramount to success is a strong sense of trust, the involvement of parents, and the School's active participation within the broader community. To that end, a clear "open door" policy is maintained at Fuqua School to ensure constructive, ongoing dialogue. The School's PTSA provides critical volunteer and financial support to all program areas.
Fuqua School's facilities are utilized by a wide range of community groups, and area youth organizations use our athletic fields. Our academic program is available to home schoolers on a course by course basis.
Fuqua School is currently accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools ( VAIS / VAIS Newsletter is available online) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools ( SACS ).
Notice of Student Nondiscriminatory Policy
Fuqua School admits students of any race, sex, color, national and ethnic origin, or religion to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on
the basis of race, sex, color, national and ethnic origin, or religion in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.