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Little Keswick School

Therapeutic Boarding School

Little Keswick School Program Information

Gender: Boys Only
Ages: 10-17 years
Grades: 4-11th grade
Estimated Enrollment: 31
Length of Stay:
Program was founded in: 1963
Accreditations: Affiliations:

Little Keswick School Contact Information

500 Little Keswick Lane
Keswick, VA 22947
Phone: 434-295-0457
Fax: 434-977-1892
School Contact: Terry Columbus
Alternative Contact: Marc Columbus
Therapy Provided?: Yes

Program Description:

Little Keswick School is a Therapeutic Boarding School, which provides a structured environment to give children with emotional and self-regulation issues, language-based and non-verbal learning disabilities, ADHD or Asperger's and similar developmental disorders, opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive. Quality academic and residential programs, behavioral management, and individual, group, and family therapy, support a warm nurturing environment with caring teachers, counselors, and therapists. Little Keswick School provides special education for boys ages ten to fifteen at admission. We are located in Central Virginia near Charlottesville and the University of Virginia.

Since its founding in 1963 by Robert and Elizabeth Wilson, Little Keswick School has provided a quality education for boys ten to seventeen years old who have special needs. Located on twenty-five pastoral acres adjacent to the scenic Southwest Mountains just seven miles from Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, the School features quality academic and social/emotional programs within a relaxed home-like atmosphere providing the warmth, structure, and security a child needs in order to mature.

When the Wilsons opened their first summer camp in 1963, they didn’t have a long-range plan for operating a special education school. That first summer, five boys received help with study skills and habits and participated in horseback riding, canoeing, and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After three years of offering a summer camp, a group of parents asked Bob and Libby if they would offer a winter program. Over forty years later, Little Keswick School is a nationally recognized year-round therapeutic boarding school for thirty boys with learning, behavioral and emotional issues.

The first students literally boarded in the Wilson’s home; but as the number of students grew, farm cottages were renovated into dormitories and classrooms. Meals were served family-style in the “Main House” kitchen/dining area, until the Keswick Depot was added to the school’s campus in 1995. The addition of facilities, like the Depot dining hall and a gymnasium, has not changed the family atmosphere at Little Keswick. After driving down the tree-lined driveway, visitors often remark on how they feel they are coming to a home, not just a school.

We have found that the only real antidote for a history of struggles and failures is the experience of sustained success. At Little Keswick, careful selection of appropriate challenges and the development of effective strategies provide constant opportunities for new successes. The behavior management system sustains student awareness of specific goals, organizes goal-directed behavior, and illuminates clear pathways to success. Developmentally-graded level criteria create a template for more generalized gains. Choice theory, integrated throughout the program, teaches students to generate acceptable alternative behaviors, as opposed to developing compliance without self-management and personal responsibility. Formalized and consistent practice of dignity and respect encourages the development of a strong sense of personal influence and self-esteem.

Little Keswick School offers a full academic program based on each student’s needs. Students have an Individual Service Plan (ISP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP) developed for them when entering the school. These plans include long-term and short-term goals for academics as well as residential and therapeutic areas. Standardized testing (primarily the Woodcock Johnson III), student records, and the present level of performance aid in determining class placement, course selection, and individual objectives in the student’s ISP/IEP. The unique wrap-around service that Little Keswick School utilizes balances the goals, so that continuity for the student between all areas is achieved.

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