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Orchard STEM School is a learner-centered school located in a working orchard in Santaquin, Utah.

At Orchard STEM, we believe that students are the most important stakeholders in their own education.
Four cornerstones anchor our educational foundation:

  • Choice: Students have choice and voice in their education. We partner with students in choosing what to learn, designing and pacing learning activities, assessing progress in learning, and evaluating competence. 

  • Creativity: Students engage enthusiastically when they approach learning creatively. We design learning environments to encourage curiosity, appropriate risk taking, problem solving, design process, and critical thinking.

  • Competence: Students progress as they demonstrate competence. We use portfolios, products, and performances as evidence of progress. We don't base progress on seat time, age-based placement, or traditional letter grades. 

  • Community: Students apply their knowledge and skills in authentic community environments. We learn in orchards, on frequent field trips in the local area, and through service learning in our community.

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Founded in 2023, Orchard STEM School is a beacon of innovative education nestled within the heart of an orchard community. Our mission is simple yet profound: To provide a learning environment where students thrive through authentic project-based learning, creative play, and meaningful community collaborations. We are dedicated to preserving the rich heritage of our town, where orchards have been a cornerstone for generations. Furthermore, we open our orchards to the community, creating a space where students and family can connect with nature, learn together, and forge lasting bonds.

Orchard STEM School stands as a testament to the power of synergy between education, nature, and community. As a small private school with big aspirations, we are committed to nurturing the potential of every student while fostering a deep appreciation for the environment and the values that bind us as a community. Join us in cultivating a brighter tomorrow through the roots of tradition and the blossoms of innovation.



Dr. Lori Openshaw, Ph.D. 

Engineering Educator, STEM Advocate, Nature Enthusiast

Lori Openshaw is a passionate advocate for fostering STEM education through immersive experiences in the natural world. Armed with a Ph.D. in Engineering Education, Lori brings a unique perspective to the realm of early learning. She recognizes the importance of early exposure to STEM concepts and has made it her mission to integrate these disciplines seamlessly into the lives of young learners.


Lori firmly believes that the natural world serves as the ultimate classroom for young minds. She understands that a profound connection to nature not only fosters a sense of wonder, but also cultivates critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are essential for a child's development. By integrating nature-based play with STEM concepts, she empowers students to cultivate a lifelong love for learning and an inherent curiosity about the world around them.

Lori and her husband, Fred, live in a cozy 1800's farmhouse in Santaquin where they operate a fifth generation fruit orchard. They have two children who love to explore outside and help with all things in the orchard. 

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Todd Hepworth, M.Ed.

Elementary Educator, Project-based Learning Expert, Air Force Veteran

Todd Hepworth is a licensed teacher with a passion for creating fun and engaging learning activities for children. Todd has served as a Charter School Director (Waldorf inspired school), as an elementary school teacher (project-based learning), and as an Air Force Officer, where he led his unit in deployments to combat zones in the Persian Gulf.

Todd has a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas. He also has graduate certificates in Elementary Literacy from the Teacher's College at Columbia University. He holds professional educator licenses in Utah and Texas. He recently completed a term on the governing board of the Utah Association for the Education of Young Children (UAEYC).

Todd and his wife, Michelle, are Santaquin residents and are actively engaged in their community. They have six children and eight grandchildren.

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