Purnell School for Girls: An Individualized Approach to Learning
By Taylor Smith
Located in scenic Pottersville in Bedminster Township (60 minutes west of Manhattan), Purnell School is a progressive private all-girls boarding high school. It was founded in the summer of 1962 by Lytt Gould and his wife, Sis, who wanted to create a school in New Jersey that would “put the girls first.” Purnell’s founding Guidelines — Consideration of Others, Use of Common Sense, and Truthfulness in all Relations — are still upheld and honored today by current Head of School Anne M. Glass, Ed.M.
“These principles inform all that we do at Purnell,” remarks Glass in Purnell’s “Welcome Letter” to students, families, and friends. “We bring them to life every day, so that our girls truly flourish while they are with us and have the skills and awareness they will need to excel in their lives after Purnell.”
The secure and peaceful 83-acre campus features rolling hills that come alive with fiery foliage in the autumn season. The school’s individualized approach to learning takes into account those with language and attention-based learning differences such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and executive functioning, among others. According to its website, “Learning support comes in many forms at Purnell, so that each girl pursues a highly-individualized education, tailored to her precise learning style.” One-on-one tutoring to bolster reading and writing skills; specialized instruction for those who struggle in mathematics; executive function coaching; Orton-Gillingham language training; multi-sensory, inquiry-based classrooms; and an Individualized Advisor Program are just a few examples. Impressively, Purnell School boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate, and 94 percent of students say their self-confidence has improved since enrolling at Purnell (https://www.purnell.org/the-purnell-difference).
At Purnell, creative expression is an essential part of learning. This manifests in numerous performing arts, visual arts, and music opportunities. The Johnson Art Center is central to the lives and learning of Purnell students. Classes in the Studio Arts Center cover a wide-range of media including drawing, painting, graphic design, illustration, digital photography, fashion and jewelry design, ceramics, and sculpture. Students who are applying to college art programs are mentored throughout their time at Purnell in portfolio development. Purnell’s website notes that students from Purnell have attended all of the top art and design college programs in the U.S. (https://www.purnell.org/artsmusic/visual-arts).
Student life at Purnell is centered around involvement and opportunity. Girls can choose from a seemingly endless selection of athletics, clubs, and activities to join, from soccer to tennis, skiing, horseback riding, running, basketball, and softball. Dancers can train in ballet, tap, modern, jazz, and hip-hop, performing at elite venues throughout New York and New Jersey. The riding program is held at nearby Redfield Farms (https://www.redfieldfarms.com), a top show facility. Qualified instructors teach beginning through advanced hunt seat equitation in indoor and outdoor riding facilities. Students are able to participate in local horse shows and are allowed to bring their own horse and board it at Redfield Farms.
The best way to determine if Purnell School may be right for your daughter is to schedule an in-person visit with the admission team and tour the campus. Appointments are available Monday-Friday by calling 908.439.4025 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.