From the first day of preschool to the time a student walks across the stage in their cap and gown to graduate, schools throughout the Shenandoah Valley position scholars for an abundance of success.
Harrisonburg City Public Schools
Located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg City Public Schools is a school system of excellence, educating over 6,400 students in grades PK-12. The district believes that the strength of our schools comes from our highly diverse student population, in which more than 50 languages are spoken by students.
The school system also prides itself in its commitment to providing a rigorous academic curriculum that includes many advanced placement, dual enrollment and honor-level courses, an associate arts program in partnership with the local community college, a regional governor’s school for science, and outstanding foreign language, arts, music, journalism and sports programs.
The district provides dual language immersion programs at all of its elementary schools. In 2017, the district opened two new school buildings, Bluestone Elementary and Elon W. Rhodes Early Learning Center, as well as began Great Oak Academy, a program to support middle school students.
For the 2018-19 school year, the district expanded its high school academies by supporting a Global Studies Academy along with the Summit Exploration Academy to support personalized learning and social emotional learning.
The district believes a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for every member of the community is critical to student learning. The district is fortunate in Harrisonburg to have a community that supports public education and a school board and staff that are committed to the highest levels of professionalism and excellence for all children.
Rockingham County Public Schools
With 15 elementary, four middle and four high schools, as well as an alternative education center and a technical center, Rockingham County Public Schools educates more than 11,000 students under the innovative leadership of Dr. Oskar Scheikl and over 2,000 teachers and staff.
The district is in year five of a five-year digital conversion project that ensures that students have access to tools and resources in order to enhance their overall learning experiences. During the past two years, all middle school and then high school students were assigned Chromebooks to use as a tool in learning.
This year, students in pre-K through third will receive iPads to learn with in their classrooms, and children in grades four and five will be assigned Chromebooks. The digital conversion process will not stop with year five, as the district will continue to find new and innovative ways to use technology to enhance student engagement.
This year, excitement abounds as the new Rockingham Academy opens. This school replaces the Dayton Learning Center as the home of alternative education programs for high school and middle school students who are not able to be successful in the traditional school setting.
This district has also completed total renovations of John Wayland and Pleasant Valley elementary schools, as both original buildings were built in the 1960s. The district’s leadership, the school board and the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors collaborated to achieve these projects.
Students can take career and technical education courses, as well as participate in mentorships to expand their view of available jobs in the region. Scholars can also get a head start on their college courses by participating in dual enrollment and advanced placement classes.
Students in both Rockingham County and Harrisonburg City schools are eligible to attend Massanutten Regional Governor’s School and acclaimed Massanutten Technical Center.
Massanutten Regional Governor’s School
As one of only 19 Academic Year Governor’s Schools in the state, Massanutten Regional Governor’s School is a joint institution serving students from Page, Rockingham, and Shenandoah counties and the city of Harrisonburg.
With an instructional focus that represents the real world, teachers help students understand lessons through presentations, investigations, simulations, problem-solving exercises, research, use of technology and through mentoring.
Additionally, students dual-enroll at Lord Fairfax Community College so they can earn college credits before they even graduate high school.
Massanutten Technical Center
Serving Harrisonburg-Rockingham since the early 1970s, Massanutten Technical Center offers classes to local high school students and adults in an array of career fields.
As a leader in career and technical education for Virginia, the center offers numerous areas of study for high school students. These industries include auto technology, electricity, practical nursing, veterinary sciences, welding, fire and rescue, carpentry, culinary arts and building management.
Adults can take advantage of the center’s GED testing, online classes, learn English or master a new skill. Through the center’s technical skills classes, adults can choose from a variety of careers, such as certified nursing assistant, utilities operator, dental assistant and medication aide. Apprenticeship opportunities are also available.
Curriculum with Character
Fostering a Well-Rounded Worldview
For a well-rounded education founded on moral principles, parents can choose to enroll their children in alternative, faith-based institutions.
Blue Ridge Christian School
Serving preschool through high school students, Blue Ridge Christian School administers rigorous academics in a faith-filled environment. Whether in the classroom or on the field, pupils obtain the skills to be successful.
From mastering ABCs to applying for college, students have access to the tools they need to enter the workforce or continue their education. Scholars have the option of taking advanced placement and dual enrollment classes, helping them get a jump-start on their college coursework. On top of that, the school accepts credits from vocational training centers that count toward graduation requirements.
Complementing academics, students can participate in various athletics, clubs and the arts, such as drama, music, band, volleyball and cross-country.
Cornerstone Christian School
Providing a Christ-centered education, Cornerstone Christian School educates pre-K through eighth grades. The school started in a church building and has grown into its own facility outfitted with modern classrooms, technology, science labs, a gym, a library and athletic fields.
The school’s curriculum centers around a biblical worldview and integration across subject areas. Students engage in active learning in all subject areas including language arts, science, math, and social studies. In addition, music, choir, drama, and art are part of the curriculum. Spanish and cursive writing are taught beginning in Kindergarten. Likewise, students can pursue extracurricular athletic options. The school has a strong focus on character development and ministry.
Eastern Mennonite School
Now in its second century, Eastern Mennonite School K-12 offers excellent academics from a foundation of faith and values in a welcoming community with global perspective. Teachers mentor students 1-to-1 and offer experiential learning opportunities, free from the limits of standardized testing.
Students develop critical thinking skills, engage in the arts, take part in competitive athletics, and thrive in a safe supportive community. Upperclassmen may take classes at Eastern Mennonite and James Madison universities.
Redeemer Classical School
Redeemer Classical School opened its doors to 15 middle school students in 2004. Since that time, enrollment has grown to over 135 students from pre-K through eighth grade. Redeemer serves families of all backgrounds from throughout the Shenandoah Valley as they carry out their mission to partner with families, “to provide for the Christian discipleship of children through a classical education for the greater glory of God.”
When teaching each day, the faculty at Redeemer emphasize discovery and independence. They model inquiring, probing minds — developing students into future citizens that think critically, love to learn and excel at solving problems. They accomplish this through their distinctive classical Christian education, which also touts time-tested method and content; robust, college-preparatory academics that highly value the fine arts and personal fitness; and a nurturing Christian community that develops strong character.
Redeemer resides on the campus of the old Keezletown School, which they purchased in August of 2017. They are conducting an ongoing capital campaign to support their efforts to fully renovate the facilities.
Top of the Class: Colleges and Universities Set the Bar
Whether brushing up on an already strong skill set, changing careers or attending college for the first time, higher education institutions in Harrisonburg-Rockingham County propel individuals forward.
American National University
Serving the Shenandoah Valley, American National University’s Harrisonburg campus boasts exemplary degrees and diplomas, spanning the medical, business and technology fields.
No matter how busy an individual’s schedule is, the university’s programs make it possible to fit school into an already packed daily routine. The Harrisonburg campus serves as a videoconferencing hub, hosting students in remote locations via live video courses by experienced faculty. Students can also take advantage of the university’s online format in its eUniversity and on-campus classes during the day or evening.
Moreover, the university helps students prepare for after graduation too. Mock interviews, business etiquette training, access to current job openings and assistance with crafting the perfect resume and cover letter help graduates land their dream job.
Blue Ridge Community College
Education providers in the Shenandoah Valley are committed to advancing economic prosperity through workforce development. Blue Ridge Community College offers comprehensive programs, including associate degrees, diplomas and certificates in occupational/technical and college/university programs, and also provides non-credit workforce training and personal-enrichment classes, as well as licensure and certification preparation and business services, such as customized training.
The college continues to be a leader in implementing a state program that provides workforce certification training programs for one-third of the normal cost for students pursuing such diverse fields as CDL truck driving, welding, machining and certain health care professions. Among a variety of other transfer and career programs, the college recently established a new cybersecurity certificate program and degrees in advanced manufacturing technology and business marketing.
The college boasts a robust college/university transfer program, featuring guaranteed admission agreements with more than 20 colleges and universities for students wishing to continue beyond the associate degree level. Classes are offered in person and online, and students may attend full- or part-time.
The college is well known for its responsiveness to local business and industry needs for high-demand workforce training fields. As a proud member of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, the college works with regional economic development professionals to identify and address workforce training needs in the region. Recent building improvements include: a two-story, 300-space parking garage adjacent to Advanced Technology Building, which opened in January 2018, and construction of a 40,000-square-foot biosciences building with an estimated completion of fall 2019.
Although Bridgewater College, a private, four-year liberal arts institution home to more than 1,900 students, has historic roots as the state’s first private, coeducational college, many new things are happening across campus.
The college broke ground on a multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion of the Alexander Mack Library in May 2018. Completion of the state-of-the-art John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons, which will house the library’s collections as well as serve as a multimedia production lab, is set for fall 2019.
Bridgewater’s continued focus on academic excellence includes expanding both its undergraduate and graduate programs, with a new undergraduate major in professional writing offered in the 2018-19 school year. The college launched its first master’s program in 2017, a two-year Master of Science in Athletic Training, after being recognized as having one of the best undergraduate athletic training programs in the country; in fact, 95 percent of the college’s undergraduate athletic training majors passed their national certification exam on the first attempt.
In addition, Bridgewater announced a second master’s program for the 2019-20 academic year: a Master of Arts in Digital Media Strategy. The interdisciplinary program includes courses in communication, writing, design and technical production, which gives graduates an advantage in many professional spheres.
Most recently, the college received national recognition from Money magazine, which named it one of the “Best Colleges for Your Money,” and MSN.com lauded Bridgewater as one of 100 colleges where applications are on the rise.
Eastern Mennonite University
With its main campus in Harrisonburg, Eastern Mennonite University delivers a premier liberal arts experience to its students, while also having a campus in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and online. Students can choose from undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs in a wide array of areas, including accounting, business administration, theological studies, peacebuilding and social work.
Devoted to values such as serving others, peacemaking, cross-cultural experiences and sustainability, the university prepares its graduates not only for their career choice but also as a well-rounded citizen.
For a university of its size, classes are small, with the median class size being 16, and the student-to-faculty ratio coming in at 12-to-1. On top of that, the university is extremely diverse, with students representing more than 50 countries and 37 states, as well as over 60 denominations and faiths other than Mennonite.
James Madison University
Consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top higher education institutions, James Madison University is home to 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students. In fact, the university was recently named by Money magazine as one of the top 25 best public colleges in the country and in the top 10 in the south.
And with the university only two hours from the nation’s capital, scholars have access to a wealth of resources and opportunities. Students can choose from a bevy of degrees, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral in nearly 125 areas of study.
Likewise, the university is undergoing numerous expansion and renovation projects. A new College of Business Learning Complex is scheduled to open in 2020 while the state-of-the-art Union Bank and Trust Center will begin hosting the JMU basketball games as well as concerts, trade shows and other community events in Fall 2020. Wilson Hall, part of the university’s picturesque Quad, will be renovated to become the new home of the history department. Other projects include a new residence hall, dining facilities and parking areas. t