Celebrating its 125th Anniversary, today's 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.
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 that 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 thirty years until it incorporated as a non-profit institution in 1941. In 1925, a group of local parents founded Brookside School, a progressive, co-educational school for grades Kindergarten through sixth grade with 30 students, 6 teachers, many pets and an active, co-operative parent body.
During the Depression, all three schools suffered enrollment declines, and in 1948, concerned for Montclair Academy's survival, a group of trustees formed The Montclair Academy Foundation, and in 1950 purchased Brookside School, creating a co-ed feeder school for the boys' Academy. After acquiring additional property on Lloyd Road, ground was broken in 1963 for a new Montclair Academy campus which today houses the MKA Upper School, grades 9-12. Concurrently, The Kimberley School was also expanding, and in 1949 purchased and renovated the old Montclair Athletic Club on Valley Road, which today houses the MKA Middle School, grades 4-8.
In 1968, Montclair Academy and The Kimberley School - each with strong school spirit, loyal alumni and rigorous college preparatory curriculums - began to offer cross-registration for certain classes in addition to shared social events and theatrical productions, and after intensive study, the trustees of both decided to combine to create a new school. 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, serving from 1979-1991, followed by Dr. Peter R. Greer who served as Headmaster from l992-2005.
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 of an MKA education. Greer's tenure was also marked by the implementation of a Long Range Plan that led to upgrading all three campuses to include a technology infrastructure, improved science facilities, a new gymnasium, an all-weather surface for the Van Brunt Field, and a black box theatre 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 the Shipley School in Pennsylvania, and the reputation for being one of their 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 implemented are the introduction of a Chinese Language Program (2009), the implementation of a 1:1 Laptop Learning Program for all students in grades 4-12 (2010), and extensive Global Experience Program (2012) and several facility upgrades to complement existing programs, such as rewiring of the campuses to support technology, a new Weight Room to support a new fitness and health curriculum at the Upper School, an all-weather field at the Primary School, and a renovated lobby, dining hall, common room and state-of-the-art auditorium at the Middle School.
Beyond the continuation of a committment to educational excellence, numerous reminders of MKA's founding schools continue to enhance daily life and contribute to making MKA a welcome home for its thousands of alumnae. From the ringing of the Montclair Academy Bell to herald the opening and closing of the school year, to the annual revival of The Kimberley Maypole Dance by second graders, today's MKA is a school both rich in tradition and committed to embracing the future.