Welcome to Purnell

Anne Glass

We are a school where girls in grades 9 through 12 and post-graduates learn in a nurturing but challenging environment and develop both as individuals and as members of a community. Our success can be traced directly to the summer of 1962 when Purnell’s founding head of school, Lytt Gould, and his wife, Sis, had a conversation with friends about the need for “a school that puts the girl first, a school that values each individual.” The Goulds and their fellow founders created Purnell to be that school. They took the best of what was known about learning and education for young women who would not find success at more conventional schools, and they created an educational program, established traditions, and grew a community in which they would thrive.

a school which puts the girl first, a school which values each individual.

More than fifty years later, we have built upon those programs and traditions, as well as our commitment to the success of young women. We continue to see Purnell students thrive here and as they go on to succeed in college and in life. The ideal expressed by Mr. Gould remains as powerful today as it was at the time of our founding. In fact, many of the most significant current understandings of adolescent development, girls’ education, and learning differences embrace those same beliefs.
Advances in areas such as student-centered education, learner-centered teaching, and experiential learning all start with the idea of putting students first. Our tradition of valuing each individual is the fundamental principle behind innovations in our proprietary Learning and Wellness® approach, Universal Design for Learning, differentiation of instruction, understanding of learner variability, and personalization of learning opportunities. These frameworks align with the latest in research in instruction and neuroscience. The outcomes of our graduates are a testimony to the success of our individualized programs. Hear students Sophie, Catherine and Mary Clare speak for themselves about why they love Purnell.

Purnell’s Founding Guidelines – Consideration of Others, Use of Common Sense, Truthfulness in all Relations – continue to resonate today through our initiatives focused on social-emotional learning, character education, and ethical decision-making. These principles inform all that we do at Purnell. 

It is upon these very strong foundations that we enact current understandings of learning and teaching so that our students can develop the intellectual and emotional capacities to become confident, lifelong learners. If you are a young woman who could thrive in our nurturing, educational environment, or you are that individual’s family, friend, or educator, Purnell would welcome your visit to our unique school and beautiful campus.

Come grow with us!
Warm regards,


Anne M. Glass, Ed.M.
Head of School