Real estate agents across the United States say that one of the questions asked most frequently by prospective homebuyers is, “How are the local schools?” By that yardstick, Orange County gets strong marks.
It is, after all, home to Valley Central High School, which happens to be where 2010 New York State Teacher of the Year Debra Calvino, teaches mathematics. It has also been listed among the 2010 “100 Best Communities for Young People” by the America’s Promise Alliance, which was originally chaired Gen. Colin Powell. The Alliance noted, “Orange County’s collaborative spirit has brought local, state and national resources for youth, both financial and technical, into the county. … Orange County works together so that all children, youth and families have access to quality formal and informal services, opportunities and supports.”
The county is divided into 17 public school districts containing 86 individual schools for nearly 66,000 students. Private education is well represented, too, as some 30 or so private institutions are currently educating an estimated 7,500 students.
Of the 62 counties in New York State, Orange’s standardized test results place it 31st for elementary schools, 26th for middle schools and 33rd for high schools.
Probably best known among the private schools is The New York Military Academy, located in Cornwall. If it sounds familiar, it should. It’s where Donald Trump went to school. Founded in 1889, it’s run in a structured environment where cadets are immersed in “a culture of leadership, community responsibility and personal resilience,” says NYMA Superintendent Jeffrey Coverdale.
Another outstanding private institution, The Storm King School, is also in Cornwall, and its roots trace back to the mid-1800s.
For higher education, Orange County Community College, aka SUNY Orange, is a highly respected two-year college known for being able to tailor its curriculum to current trends in the workplace. The main campus is in Middletown, but a state-of-the art urban campus, focused within the environmentally friendly, 87,000-square-foot Kaplan Hall, recently opened in Newburgh.
Taking the long view of SUNY Orange’s relevance to economic development and quality of life, Chamber of Commerce President John D’Ambrosio says, “Nothing happens here, especially in economic development, without the participation of the community college.” And he credits the local college with being “nimble enough” to provide the kind of academics and services that benefit residents the most.