Just wrote this on my FB page and a friend suggested I share it here.
I can't even explain how much I love this school, but a peek into our graduation tradition may help. Each and EVERY graduate is honored...one by one, they stand... and a teacher, parent, sibling, advisor, or a fellow student, speaks for them and about them. It is an afternoon of laughter, tears, hugs and poignant memories. Evidence that these kids have already made an impact on the world around them, and a reminder that they have a responsibility to continue to do so as they become a citizen of the global community....in THEIR.OWN.SPECIAL.WAY.
If you are ever looking for a school, I encourage you to just attend Key School graduation. I did. I sat in the back row by myself 8 years ago...Didnt know a soul...but I laughed, I cried....with tears rolling down my face, I knew there was no other place for us. We have never looked back.
Key School is outstanding and an incredible academic environment where students thrive because they are nurtured at all levels. Key is superior for its rigorous academics, exceptional attention to a student's intellectual and emotional development, and its adventurous outdoor education program. From our experience, it is the best school around.
I chose Key for my daughters because I wanted an environment where learning was an exploration; I wanted my children to absorb information through all of their senses, not just their ears. Having spent 12 years as a student at Key, I can attest for the "hands on" nature of the curriculum throughout all levels. Learning at Key is never passive; students are expected to join in daily discussions, to ask questions, to challenge each other and to learn from not only the teacher but their peers. I also know that while the journey is important, the goal is equally so. The list of college acceptances each year is astounding. More than half of my class at Key applied and was accepted "early decision" to highly selective colleges. My class has now spent more years apart than we did together but we are still fast friends, spread across the globe as lifelong learners. I can't imagine a better place for my children to grow and explore their worlds, and I will forever be indebted to Key for my strong foundation.
In the name of diversity, inclusion and openness Key is like Peyton Place. A lack of role models among the teachers. It's essentially anything goes and you have to accept it. No one is held to a standard of conduct. Contrast that with Severn where strict decorum and high standards are enforced. Teachers take very seriously the "role model" ethos for personal conduct. Key has abdicated this in the name of political correctness. No personal conduct among the teachers, no matter how egregious is challenged. If you are looking for a school that models behavior and takes seriously the idea of role models, look elsewhere. The academics are good, perhaps very good, but character development isn't on the map. Anything goes.
As a graduate of the Key School, I have critique of the institution as a whole. Well into my undergraduate career at a highly competitive liberal arts college, I will preface by saying that Key offered me a foundation that allowed me to find academic success in college. My easy transition was made possible by Key's curriculum and some of the school's incredible teachers. Having said that, I have plenty of complaints about the school's culture. Other than having a tendency to socially shelter its students, I find the school's lack of diversity to be absolutely unacceptable. In addition to having very few students of color in my graduating class, I often noticed the institutional tokenization of students of color, students of queer identities and low-income students. Unfortunately, the homogeny of white, upper-middle class cis-gendered persons is not a reality in the greater world and Key refuses to address these delicate, yet critical issues.
Key School was the defining experience of my young adult life. I am now a professor of Chinese History at Stanford University, recently tenured, and there is not a month that goes by that I do not think back upon my 8 years at Key School with affection, admiration, and pride. In terms of sheer intellectual power, Key School easily rivaled and surpassed my subsequent experience at Johns Hopkins, my Freshman year at which felt familiar if not slow-paced owing to my preparation at Key. It was not until I entered the PhD program at Columbia University that I felt as nurtured and challenged as I had at Key, surrounded not only by compelling faculty but also fellow students hungry to explore and pose questions, day in and day out. If I still lived in Maryland still, I would without question want to send my children to Key. I cannot speak for my fellow alumni, but I can say that their pathways through life have been inspiring (for interest of anonymity I can only outline educational careers): University of Chicago, Brown, Grinnell, Stanford, and the list goes on. Without qualification I can say that I love Key School and would eagerly recommend it to anyone who sought my advice.
The Key School has been a life changing experience for my son! He is the happiest I have ever seen him and has grown intellectually, socially, and emotionally. This our first year at Key, in 6th grade. My son has an notably high IQ and is absolutely THRIVING at Key, more than I could have imagined. His confidence has grown phenomenally, his desire to do well in school is great now - he used to have zero passion to do well, now he really looks forward to school and in learning. The faculty takes the time to understand the him, what motivates him to learn, his strengths and his weaknesses. Where there is a weakness, the teachers spend compassionate time helping him develop and grow. The transition from a very good huge public school in Howard County to a private school in Annapolis was a difficult change. The faculty focused carefully on his transition; the support structure there is like nothing I have seen in schools before. We drive 45 minutes each way to get to school and it is the best investment in time!! My son has Dysgraphia (struggles with physical writing) and the school has been fantastic in having him use a laptop for much of his work. He is now an avid writer. :}
Great school. Innovative. Only criticism is that it focuses on making the kids the center of the universe and that may be not serving them well when they hit "the real world." Also fresh blood coming in key leadership positions which is a good thing.
Don't believe the "small class size" stuff. In Middle School I am seeing 19-20 kids in class jam packed into class rooms that weren't built for that many kids. Also, take a look at the cost of McDonough vs. Key - exactly the same but compare the college acceptances - totally different. Key School is WAY too expensive for what it provides.