School History

From the outset, Key School worked to forge an identity that coupled experiential and innovative learning with a rigorous and essentially classical curriculum.


The Key School was founded in 1958 by several tutors from nearby St. John's College who were interested in offering their children the finest possible academic foundation. These college professors, convinced that children possess inherent intellectual vitality that schools generally do not reach, agreed to bring discerning teachers and promising students together in small classes.

The School differentiated itself in terms of its belief in the individual and its emphasis on respect for human differences.

The first site for the School, a rented house on Chesapeake Avenue in Eastport, housed a student body of eighteen in grades one through three and a faculty of two. A grade was added each year, and in 1961 the School outgrew the original location and moved to the present more spacious facilities on the site of the old Smith mansion in Hillsmere Shores, overlooking the South River and the Chesapeake Bay.

By the 1970s, the School's enrollment had grown to include 360 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through twelve, with virtually all graduates going on to higher education. Ongoing renovations and new construction throughout the 1980s and 1990s allowed the campus to meet the demands of a growing student population and an expanding educational program.

The Idea of a School

Read the original statement of purpose, written by Thomas K. Simpson, February 1958.

Looking Back

Historical photos of Hill's Delight before it became Key School. Images from the Maryland State Archives.

Aerial View of the Farm
The Barn
The Manse

The School continues to look to the past with great admiration and appreciation for the wisdom and vision of its founders who gave the School its distinction as an innovative, creative, and humanistic institution.