At Montclair Kimberley Academy 175 faculty members teach just over 1,000 students from Pre-K through grade 12 on three campuses – Pre-K-3rd, 4th-8th and 9th-12th. The campuses operate as one school under the motto, “Knowledge, Vision, Integrity.”
Founded as the Montclair Academy in 1887 as a school for boys, in 1974 the school merged with The Kimberley School (formed in 1906 for girls) and Brookside School (a coed school started in 1925) to become one cohesive school that offers a mix of traditional classes with a progressive focus.
MKA’s Primary School emphasizes project-based learning and collaboration, and this type of hands-on learning continues through the Middle and Upper Schools. The curriculum focuses on adhering to the school’s mission of providing a transformative education. Through an array of academic, artistic, athletic and leadership opportunities for students, MKA is a special place for its dynamic students.
New Spaces, New Visions
Headmaster Thomas W. Nammack says the school recently invested 10 million dollars in additions and renovations to the MKA Primary School Campus (Brookside). “The project included a brand-new auditorium, cafeteria and kitchen, a redesigned front campus and playground, new turf on the Primary School field and the addition of a new entry, gallery and admission’s offices,” he says. “The new facility has been an absolute homerun for the Primary School in terms of how it supports its program.” Nammack says that these new spaces also provide the Primary School with enough “elbow room” to support MKA’s plans for opening school for the 2020-2021 school year.
MKA prides itself on being a diverse, cohesive community that is constantly striving to evolve and improve. For the upcoming year, MKA is also devoting additional human resources and program focus to diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. “Our work in this regard will be overseen by Dr. Carlaina Bell, Assistant Headmaster for Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism and will be supported by the newly formed Board of Trustees and Administrative Taskforce on Anti-Racism,” says Nammack.
Always Looking Forward
MKA had a quick and effective response to the emergent pandemic in March, switching to remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic to keep students learning and connected. Teachers partnered with parents to help students thrive. The safety of students, parents, staff and faculty continues to be the highest priority.
“Our plan for opening in 2020-21 is a hybrid model in which students in Pre-K and K are in school every day and students in grades 1-12 are learning in school and at home on alternate days,” says Nammack. “This hybrid model allows for a daily population density that makes physical distancing possible as well as managing the younger grades in stable cohorts of 8-12 students.”
Nammack says that MKA will be observing other health and safety mitigating measures, such as requiring masks for students and employees, access to frequent hand sanitation, and daily temperature checks for all employees and students. “The school has also invested in additional technology resources beyond the laptops and iPads distributed to all students and teaching faculty to further enhance the remote learning experience that is part of the hybrid model as well as being ready for the possibility of full remote learning for the entire school,” he says.
Teaching on Another Level
MKA’s teachers act as coaches, mentors and advisors to their students. Seventy-nine percent of the faculty hold advanced degrees.
“One of the things parents and students love most about the school is the level of teaching excellence,” says Nammack. “This is made possible by the faculty’s commitment to their professional growth fostered by MKA’s unique program of Accountability for Growth that combines multiple sources of feedback for teachers with very intentional professional development.”
Nammack says the responsiveness of the school to the needs and aspirations of its students is another strong point that makes them stand out.
“I’m in awe of what our students accomplish in terms of service, academic excellence and breadth, athletic competition and prowess and self-expression in the fine and performing arts,” Nammack says. “We strive to create opportunities for our students in all parts of the program, but our students really step up to provide leadership in all areas of school life…their energy and interests seem to be inexhaustible.”
At MKA, students find a challenging, nurturing, transformative environment that inspires each individual to discover a passion for learning and take that as far as they can go.
201 Valley Rd., Montclair