In 2001, a small group of parents came together with a shared vision of creating a school that celebrates and cultivates the energy young adolescent boys bring to a learning environment – and Seven Hills School was born.
As our founders envisioned, Seven Hills has become a community built around boys. Instruction here is guided by the most respected research in the field, with the objective of inspiring the hearts and minds of boys in their middle years. Boys have different academic and social needs than girls at this age. By acknowledging this reality, Seven Hills has developed a relevant learning experience tailored to the unique characteristics of middle school-age boys. Our curriculum and methodologies foster creative and critical thinking through problem solving, collaborative projects, outdoor learning, and hands-on experimentation.
Seven Hills School cultivates a keen intellect and emotional strength in middle-school boys. We emphasize hands-on learning, critical thinking, and guided exploration. By design, we are different.
Based on Research about Boys in Middle School
Researchers have consistently and conclusively demonstrated that boys develop critical thinking and collaborative learning skills most effectively in learning environments that include opportunities for movement and full sensory instruction. Boys also need a safe, supportive environment in which to explore their emerging identities.
Seven Hills is a model school on the leading edge of a national movement to change the conventional approach to teaching boys. The traditional approach often legislates against the very aspects of a boy’s development that Seven Hills embraces as pivotal to successful instruction. The Seven Hills faculty teaches with the boy in mind and actively explores enhanced learning for boys in these middle school years.
School and Class Size
Seven Hills is committed to a small class size with a maximum of 16 students per class. In recent years, the school’s enrollment has been about 70-80 boys. The small size of the school fosters a tight-knit community in which each boy benefits from the attention of the entire faculty. We’ve implemented a strategic growth plan to serve just under 100 students while maintaining small class sizes. Our smaller class sizes allow boys to learn at their own pace and receive more small group and one-on-one instruction. Our design is to have a single Bridge class, and two classes each in grades six through eight.
Faculty and Staff
In simplest terms: Seven Hills teachers and staff members understand boys. Our highly-qualified faculty and staff are selected based on this special characteristic. They understand – so are not surprised by – how boys think, reason, interact, learn, solve problems, behave, and form relationships. The respect between teacher and student, and among the students, is truly inspiring. Respect for others and one’s self are constantly and consistently modeled for the boys at this school. Because of the small class sizes, teachers are able to interact with each boy in a meaningful way on a consistent basis. These relationships are integral to learning.
The Bridge curriculum at Seven Hills is unique in a number of ways. The Bridge year serves as a transition period for students who have completed fourth or fifth grade in which they can adjust to both the rigors of middle school and to the culture of Seven Hills in particular. In this year there are no letter or number grades recorded on report cards. Instead, students receive a narrative report from each of their teachers. This enables the student to focus less on a numeric value placed on their work, and more on the quality of their academics, in addition to their effort, attitude, and interactions.
Designed to integrate information across subject areas – to be inter-curricular – with topics from one class overlapping with others, our Bridge curriculum allows teachers to build connections that enrich the boys’ learning. The Bridge program also emphasizes the development of each student’s individual and group identity, as this small class of 12-to-14 boys interacts intensely over the school year. This fosters confidence and understanding which the boys bring with them when they become more incorporated with the rest of the school in their later years at Seven Hills.
The Bridge curriculum is overseen by the Bridge Director, who teaches at least one core subject as well as Study Skills in the Bridge class. The director also serves as a guide for boys as they transition from Bridge into middle school.
Preparation for High School
The faculty and administration at Seven Hills work closely with our eighth graders and their families to advise and support them during the high school guidance process.
Seven Hills students are regularly accepted to, and excel at, many prestigious high schools including Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology, numerous Specialty Centers in the counties of Chesterfield and Henrico, Open High School and Community High School in Richmond, regional International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, as well as the area’s top private high schools. Helping boys find their best high school option, often an academically rigorous one, is core to the Seven Hills mission.
Seven Hills School has four main buildings on its campus in Richmond’s Northside. Building A, with two classroom spaces, hosts the majority of classes for the Bridge program. The second floor of Building B includes the school’s library, a meeting room, and faculty and staff offices, while the lower level is home to two classroom spaces. Building C represents the heart of the campus. It’s where most classes occur and where all students gather daily for the Morning and Closing Sessions in the Great Hall upstairs.
Seven Hills was pleased to renovate and occupy its newest space, Building D, which houses the Admissions Office on the ground floor and an additional meeting space on the second floor. The exterior of Building D features a large and colorful mural by Richmond artist Ed Trask. The mural depicts some of the important historical figures associated with Frederick Douglas Court, the neighborhood in which Seven Hills resides.
Other unique campus features include a soccer field of competition quality natural turf; an amphitheater which provides a venue for outdoor classes, performances and other gatherings; a dark room; a wood shop; and an over-sized outdoor chessboard and chess set. Seven Hills also leverages its proximity to the James River in its monthly River Days: a day once per month during which student learning occurs at and along the James River.
Learn more about the history of our campus here.
The name “Seven Hills”
Learn about the facts and legends of the hills of Richmond here.