Congratulations! You have discovered one of Austin’s hidden gems. Kirby Hall School is a rare and magical place as distinct as this city itself. Just minutes from the University of Texas, you’ll find the highest level of academics offered in a loving, nurturing environment. In this close-knit, caring community, warm and welcoming faculty engage students in joyful rigor that promotes intellectual curiosity and higher-order thinking skills. Here, students blossom, excel, and reach their full potential. We know when you raise the bar, children will never cease to amaze you. It’s quite simply an education beyond.
“It’s a gem. The level of education
that you get here, it is a gold mine.”
– Kirby Hall Parent
Our Mission & Welcome Letter from Chairman of the Board
The Mission of Kirby Hall School is to prepare bright and kind young people for a life of academic success, personal fulfillment, and dedicated service to their local, national and global community. A gifted faculty with genuine affection for children and teenagers sets high standards for academic achievement, recognizing and rewarding individual strengths. Students are taught to respect and support their schoolmates. Honorable behavior defines Kirby Hall students.
Kirby Hall pursues its goals through a traditional course of study in a Socratic style and small classes, where individual attention is not only possible but is given daily to each student. We believe that children achieve and grow in a more holistic way when they are well-nurtured, happy, and joyful. The environment of Kirby Hall reflects the values of kindness, humility, and mutual respect.
Our Mission Statement drives instruction in the classroom, as well as decorum outside of the classroom, to ensure that all students experience academic success and personal growth. An academically advanced core curriculum allows bright and motivated students to meet their potential while remaining with students of their maturity level. Students are neither bored nor misplaced into a more socially mature group due to their advanced academic ability and intellectual curiosity.
We measure our mission’s success by the positive and engaged attitude of our students and by their high achievements on nationally standardized tests, academic competitions, Advanced Placement exams, and college placements. Kirby Hall students ultimately go forward in their lives knowing both how to succeed in the world themselves and how to make it a better place for others.
– Beverly Rase, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
A Rich History
Since its founding in 1976, Kirby Hall’s success comes from the labor of many hands and the wisdom of many heads. In 1970 through their active involvement in their public school parent association, Dr. and Mrs. Howard F. Rase perceived a need for a school catering to academically advanced students and allowing faculty the freedom to elevate their instruction, unencumbered by state mandates and high-stakes testing. Large classrooms populated by students with a broad set of academic abilities left educators with the Herculean task of differentiating instruction, often prioritizing remedial needs. Dr. and Mrs. Rase envisioned a school focused on bright and intellectually curious students.
Recognizing As a professor of chemical engineering at The University of Texas, Dr. Rase recognized the importance of a strong educational background at the elementary and secondary school level for a student’s later academic success at the college level. Recognizing the needs of her own two children, Mrs. Rase became a pioneer in the college preparatory school movement in Austin.
the needs of her own two children, Mrs. Rase
became a pioneer
in the college preparatory school movement
As the founders of Kirby Hall, Dr. and Mrs. Rase conceived of a school with small classes in which their children would be with other driven and academically gifted students. They also wanted children to be treated with respect and to be given recognition for their individual talents and strengths. Students would then feel fully seen, believed in, and heard. On such a foundation of trust, students would take the intellectual risks necessary for maximizing their potential.
Over the next couple of years, the Rases and other families from The University of Texas community began setting up an independent college preparatory school based on Judeo-Christian values, universal teachings that are found in many world religions. Since opening in 1976, Kirby Hall solidified its reputation as a school for academically gifted students whose parents also wanted a kind and loving environment. After Kirby Hall achieved its non-profit status, the entity purchased Helen M. Kirby Hall. Today, this 501(c)(3) continues to own and maintain this historic building.
Kirby Hall’s Historic Home
In 1924, the Methodist Board of Missions built Kirby Hall as a dormitory for girls attending The University Texas. The building was designed by the Fort Worth architectural firm of Sanguinet & Staats, which designed many buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In Austin, they also designed the First Methodist Church near the State Capitol and the Scarborough Building. Kirby Hall was one of university’s first dormitories for women.
The Hall was named after Helen M. Kirby who, in the 1880s, became a supervisor of young women studying at the newly-established University of Texas. She declined the title of matron, accepted the name of Lady Assistant, and in 1903, was renamed Dean of Women, a title she retained until her retirement in 1919. Helen M. Kirby died on January 17, 1921, and is credited with making co-education a reality in Texas colleges.
The Methodist diocese operated the dormitory until the fall of 1971. Dr. and Mrs. Rase opened Kirby Hall School on this site in 1976, paying homage to its rich history by retaining its name.
Wanting to preserve and protect the building from potential developers, who may well prize the land more than the building, efforts were soon underway to earn recognition from Austin’s Historic Landmark Committee. Many who seek historic designation do so to avoid taxes, but being a 501(c)(3), the school was already non-taxed. We knew that destroying a building is not legal if it is recognized as a historic property. Within a few years of opening, Kirby Hall School was recognized as an Austin Historic Landmark.