History & Founders
United by a vision of a small, cooperatively owned school serving an ethnically, racially and economically diverse student body, a group of parents founded Burgundy Farm Country Day School in 1946. They chose an ideal setting for their school near Alexandria, on a dairy farm with 25 rolling, partially wooded acres. Parents poured their hearts and souls into converting the abandoned houses and barns into classrooms. Building materials were scarce in the post-World War II environment, but the persistence and ingenuity of the founders resulted in the dedication of the school in December 1946.
It was the founders’ intent that the school should be open to children and families of all religions, socio-economic backgrounds and races. But in the Virginia of the 1940s, integrated schools were against the law. By 1950, however, the school’s trustees decided that the time had come for Burgundy to fulfill its promise. A letter was sent to the Governor informing him that the school believed that the law banning integration did not apply to private schools. In 1950, the first African American students entered Burgundy, and the school has remained committed to being an inclusive and welcoming community ever since.
In 1967, Burgundy expanded its environmental focus by establishing a 506-acre wildlife camp at Cooper’s Cove in the West Virginia mountains where students may explore the wonders of the natural world in great depth.
From the beginning, a Burgundy education has differed from other, more traditional schools in important ways. While other schools emphasize memorization of facts, following teacher direction and “teaching to the test,” Burgundy takes a different approach. At Burgundy, students acquire and apply knowledge; develop critical thinking skills; become engaged, self-confident learners; contribute; are heard and valued; and spend time learning and playing outdoors. Parents are involved and actively participate in school and classroom activities.
From its opening in 1946 with 40 students, Burgundy has grown to 270 students who come from all over the metropolitan area. When they graduate, they attend a variety of area private and public schools.