The Piney Woods School is the longest serving historically African American college preparatory residential school in the United States.

We pursue our next century with the same innovative spirit that launched our work over 100 years ago. Our vision is to produce entrepreneurial citizens, a community of learners who are curious, creative and constructive, whose impact will change the world. We accomplish this by integrating leading edge experiential learning with a proven approach to personal and leadership development. Our farm and facilities, our family culture, and our ideals and values make us uniquely qualified to achieve these goals. This year, we have made great progress toward the next generation of the “Head, Heart and Hands” philosophy and the future of learning at The Piney Woods School. Below is a brief overview of the impact we have made.


  • We successfully implemented a technology-rich, project-based curriculum. Every student receives a laptop device that they utilize to access internet-based curricular material. Our approach extends beyond the mere acquisition of informational content to the development of transferable cognitive skills.


  • We partnered with the National Center for Appropriate Technology to develop a demonstration farm, with students learning how to grow and prepare healthy foods, sharing these skills with the surrounding communities, and harvesting and integrating specialty crops into our dining hall meals.


  • We partnered with Mississippi State University in research funded by the National Science Foundation that seeks to identify causes of and solutions to STEM inclusion barriers. We will collaboratively explore challenges unique to informal STEM education among rural populations.


  • We launched the Solve for X Institute, a pioneering approach to learning, modeled off the Finnish concept of “phenomenon-based” teaching. The Institute identifies real world problems and challenges students to solve them working with faculty, local artisans, and international experts.


  • In collaboration with Duvall Decker Architects – a Jackson-based architecture firm – we have designed three model energy-efficient faculty houses. Students are researching every aspect of the work, including human comfort, climate, historical perspectives, and conservation of resources.


  • Tesla donated 330 solar panels and we received a grant from the Department of Energy, advancing our goal of building a solar field, which will double as a learning project for our students and allow us to be operationally sustainable and contributing citizens to our community.
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