Montclair Kimberley Academy, established in 1974, is the product of the merger of three separate schools, each with a reputation for providing an outstanding education: Montclair Academy, a boys' school founded in 1887; The Kimberley School, a girls' school founded in 1906; and Brookside, a coed school founded in 1925. Today's MKA has built on that tradition of excellence and offers its diverse student body a rigorous, yet innovative, college-preparatory education.
MKA, one of the largest coeducational independent day schools in New Jersey, is committed to providing every student in grades Pre-K - 12 with opportunities to develop to their infinite potential, in terms of both their intellect and their character. Guided by our motto - Knowledge, Vision, Integrity - the school encourages active participation in the arts, athletics and community engagement to enhance the growth fostered by our challenging academic curriculum. Three age-appropriate campuses and a commitment to diversity and faculty professional development are hallmarks of the MKA experience.
To learn more about our philosophy, as articulated in our Mission Statement, Character Standards, and Diversity & Inclusion Statement of Purpose, read below.
Following the efforts of some leading Montclair citizens to prepare their sons for college, Montclair Academy was founded in 1887 with 32 boys under the tutelage of John MacVicar. By 1891, the school had expanded to include a boarding facility and was renamed the Montclair Military Academy. At the end of the First World War, the school name reverted to Montclair Academy and by 1925 had an enrollment of close to 300 boys with Dr. Walter Head as owner and headmaster. The counterpart for some of Montclair's young ladies was Miss Waring's School and Studio, which opened in 1906 with 46 students and 10 teachers led by headmistress Mary Kimberley Waring. The school was renamed in 1909 when Mary Jordan joined her as co-principal, and the two women ran The Kimberley School for more than 30 years until it incorporated as a nonprofit institution in 1941. In 1925, a group of local parents founded Brookside School, a progressive, coeducational school for Kindergarten through grade six, with 30 students, six teachers, many pets and an active, cooperative parent body.
During the Depression, while the world was changing, MKA was evolving. In 1948, concerned for Montclair Academy's survival, a group of trustees formed The Montclair Academy Foundation and in 1950 they purchased Brookside School, creating a co-ed feeder school for the boys' school. After acquiring additional property on Lloyd Road in 1963, Montclair Academy broke ground for a new campus, which today houses the MKA Upper School, grades 9-12. The Kimberley School was also expanding and in 1949 it purchased and renovated the old Montclair Athletic Club on Valley Road, which currently houses the MKA Middle School, grades 4-8.
In 1968, Montclair Academy and The Kimberley School — each with strong school spirit, loyal graduates and a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum —began to offer cross-registration for certain classes in addition to shared social events and theatrical productions. After intensive study, the trustees of both decided to combine to create a new school and in September 1974, Montclair Kimberley Academy was established with Richard Ward Day as its principal. Dr. Frances R. O'Connor was the school's second principal (1979-1991), followed by Dr. Peter R. Greer (l992-2005), who took the title headmaster.
Under Dr. Greer's leadership, MKA emerged as one of the largest independent day schools in New Jersey. Both the Upper and Middle School campuses were designated as National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, and Signature Programs in ethics, writing and core works became identifiable hallmarks. Implementation of a long-range plan that led to upgrades of all three campuses to including a technology infrastructure, improved science facilities, a new gymnasium, an all-weather surface for the Van Brunt Field, a black box theater and the Dr. Peter R. Greer Arts Wing at the Upper School.
Assuming the title of MKA's fourth headmaster in July 2005, Thomas W. Nammack came to the school with seventeen years of experience at Pennsylvania's Shipley School and the reputation for being one of its finest administrators. Under his leadership, ambitious Goals for Strategic Planning have been developed to consolidate the school's position as an institution of excellence for the 21st century. Among those goals already realized are the introduction of a Chinese Language Program (2009), 1:1 Laptop Learning Program for all students in grades 4-12 (2010) and extensive Global Experience Program (2012) as well as facility upgrades.
Beyond a continuing commitment to academic excellence, MKA has numerous reminders of its founding schools, which enhance daily life and contribute to making it a welcome home to thousands of graduates. From the ringing of the Montclair Academy bell to herald the opening and closing of the school year to the annual second-grade revival of The Kimberley Maypole Dance, today's MKA is a school both rich in tradition and committed to embracing the future.