Mission & History

James River Day School cherishes children and challenges them to become scholars, leaders, and citizens for the 21st century, in a community of academic excellence.
James River Day School students work with their teacher in fourth grade.
As scholars, James River students ...
  • read and write well.
  • think mathematically.
  • develop skills needed to pursue scientific research and engineering.
  • use technology for research and presentation.
  • approach learning with intellectual curiosity and dedication.
  • tackle challenging problems with creativity and precision.
  • employ multiple perspectives in research and analysis.
  • engage in strategic and critical thinking, experimentation and creative hands-on learning.
As leaders, James River students …eighth graders raising the flag at James River Day School
  • listen carefully and collaborate with others.
  • are innovative and seek multiple solutions to challenges.
  • are honest and promote a sense of fair play.
  • seek additional responsibility and fulfill responsibilities cheerfully.
  • stand up for what's right and confront injustice.
As citizens, James River students …
  • develop the ability to see and respect multiple viewpoints.
  • develop the skills and flexibility necessary to thrive in a changing world.
  • connect and contribute to the local and global communities.
  • are good stewards of the environment.
  • practice tolerance through the appreciation of diverse cultures, styles and opinions in our school, community, nation and the world.
James River Day School was founded in 1971 as a “non-racially discriminatory school” for grades first through sixth and built on the foundation of academic excellence while honoring the sanctity of childhood. More than fifty years later, James River has grown to educate children from kindergarten through eighth grade and remains committed to developing scholarship, leadership, and citizenship in its students. 
When James River was founded, an existing structure on Boonsboro Road was renovated to provide classroom facilities. The school increased its offerings in 1973 by opening a kindergarten. 
James River's original school buildingIn the fall of 1996, the school expanded to include sixth grade. In 1997, the Taylor Media Center was completed, along with science and computer labs, five new classrooms, and teacher offices. In the same year, the campus was reconfigured to provide a regulation soccer/lacrosse field, improved playgrounds, and expanded parking facilities.
In the fall of 1997, JRDS added a seventh-grade class. Eighth-grade courses were added in the fall of 1998. In 1999, the 13,000-square-foot Carrington Field House was completed.
In 2000, the B.F. Dodson Family Laboratory Greenhouse was added along with the Robins Lecture Hall and the Schenkel Science Exhibit Hall. During 2004 and 2005, twelve classrooms were renovated, and a multipurpose cafeteria was added.
Over two summers (2016 and 2017), the Varner Music and Arts Center renovation was completed, which included a large music classroom on the first floor and a pottery/art studio on the lower floor. In the fall of 2017, a 6,600-square-foot middle school wing was added, which included two science labs, two academic classrooms, plus office and meeting spaces. Also in the fall of 2017, a new playground was opened on the level of the athletic field. Over time, land purchases have increased the campus size to twelve acres.