Our History

Where We Began

The Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts (PHSSA) was founded as part of the revitalization of the Woodland Heights neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia.  The revitalization included converting houses that had been divided into apartments back to single family residences and expanding the 43rd Street Arts Festival to year round arts activities for families.  Another part of this project was restoring and maintaining Forest Hill Park, restoring and preserving Reedy Creek and its environs as a safe and clean tributary with ADA accessibility, and returning the vacant Patrick Henry School to use as a neighborhood public school that reflected the revitalization of the neighborhood while opening the school to all K-5 students in the city. 

Parents and citizens formed the Richmond Partnership for Neighborhood Schools in 2007 to explore the possibility of reopening Patrick Henry Elementary School. This led to a Patrick Henry Board focused on building a school with a diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic population delivering an integrated curriculum of environmental science and the arts. The school would provide an alternative school experience, act as a laboratory for best practices, meet SOL standards, and be a part of Richmond Public Schools in order to attract more families to public education.   After extensive research by education professionals at all levels of education, the Board decided that a charter school within the school system would give the school the flexibility and autonomy to pursue a less traditional approach to learning, offer all city children a unique public school education, and be a laboratory for implementation of successful learning strategies.


a collage of moments in the school's history

PHSSA Timeline

May 2008- Richmond Public Schools approved PHSSA’s charter application to become the first charter school in the city (and only the fourth charter school in the Commonwealth!).

April 2010-PHSSA announced the hiring of our first school principal and teachers for 12 classes.

August 11, 2010- The inaugural 2010 class of 149 students matriculated in the Woodland Heights Baptist Church Education Center.

January 2012-PHSSA moved to its current home at 3411 Semmes Avenue. Occupancy of the PHSSA building was dependent on completing many upgrades. Making a nearly 100-year-old building compliant with all the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was no small feat.

  • The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation provided funding for our kitchen and cafeteria. 
  • Since our initial renovation of Phase I, we have added:
    • Four classrooms
    • Completed the renovation of our auditorium 
    • Added four modular classrooms (due to expansion)
    • And restored and replaced windows throughout the building to create a sustainable, energy efficient academic space. 
  • The final phase of our journey focuses on renovations to the third floor where 10 classrooms are located.

Where we are now.

  • PHSSA Current Enrollment- 307 students representing all nine school districts within the City of Richmond. 
  • We strive to promote learning through an integrated curriculum, focusing on the multidisciplinary model and to ensure a holistic educational experience for all students.
  • Language arts, math, science, social studies and history are being taught in the classrooms through a meaningful integrated curriculum that focuses on project-based learning. Our classrooms extend into the gardens that surround the school and also Forest Hill Park.