Enrich. Engage. Explore.
Dr. Natalie N. Summerville founded The Grand Magnolia School after over 25 years as an educator to create a new kind of school experience. Grand Magnolia is a private micro-school of just 8 children with 4:1 ratios. Nestled in in the heart of the West End of Richmond, Virginia, Grand Magnolia takes an experiential approach to educational excellence. Every day, we cultivate a nurturing and active learning home for children to flourish with ample outdoor time, hands-on exploration, and play.
At Grand Magnolia, we see the brilliance in your child. Every day, we strive to keep the spark of each child's innate love of learning alight.
We know that your child was born with a drive to thrive and grow.
Our learning home values academic excellence based in innovative thinking that starts young and lasts a lifetime.
We know that your child thinks creatively and solves problems when given the freedom to demonstrate their competence.
At Grand Magnolia, we believe in the power of small. Our micro-school of no more than eight children, cohort-based learning model, and 4:1 ratios means that we really see your child.
We know that your child is unique and deserves to be truly seen as they are.
We foster your child's inherent curiosity and drive towards discovery through our philosophical roots that prioritize: experiential nature, freedom, and community.
Our Philosophical Roots
- play-based active learning -
- abundant time outdoors -
- daily learning excursions -
Have you ever noticed how your child learns best hands-on way that is very
We have found that children develop through experiential, sensory, and active learning strategies. Aligned with this, we spend most of our day outside in nature. We go on daily excursions to translate what we learn about in our books and lessons into action. We believe that children need to move -- a lot -- so we dance, climb, jump, and play as much as possible. You won't find many worksheets and it's unlikely that you'll catch our students sitting at a desk in our micro-school environment.
- critical and innovative thinking -
- empathy and compassion -
- agency and choice -
We believe that each child possesses extraordinary creativity, competence, and confidence.
At Grand Magnolia, we foster choice, careful thought, intuition, and agency. We know our world needs more innovative free-thinkers who seek to understand complex problems with empathy and compassion. The early years lay the foundation of children's future and believe that a good education shapes intellectual freedom for a lifetime. We treat each child in our community with respect and help our students learn to extend that same care towards themselves and those around them.
- 4:1 ratios -
- learning home approach -
- cohort-based model -
In our tiny community, we seek to care for one another with intentionality and kindness.
After working as an educator for over 20 years and getting a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, our Founder and Head of School, Dr. Natalie Summerville founded Grand Magnolia to transform school as usual. At Grand Magnolia, young children learn in a small environment that feels like home. The cohort model means students progress together over the years. Our low student:teacher ratios of 4:1 and small student body allows us to tailor our educational environment to our students.
What's a micro-school?
A micro-school is an intentionally small learning community where children benefit from more individualized attention, tailored curricula, and close bonds with their classmates. For us at Grand Magnolia, that means that we have eight children in two cohorts of just four children. The school is a converted home in the West End of Richmond and makes coming to school feel more like returning to a nurturing learning home.
Dr. Natalie N. Summerville
Founder & Head of School
Dr. Natalie N. Summerville has been passionate about education for her entire life. A third generation educator, she has over 25 years of experience in the classroom. Dr. Summerville earned her bachelor's degree at Spelman College, completed a master's in education at Old Dominion University, and went on to earn her doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction at George Mason University after launching her children. She is the mother of four wonderful people and grandmother of six little ones. While her children were young, she led several initiatives to support their education as president of their school's parent teacher organization, director of arts enrichment, and member of fundraising boards.