About / Mission

Students appreciated for their humanity and intelligence are better equipped to reach their full potential.

Mission Statement

Through intellectual challenge in a responsive environment, Kirby empowers students to shape their futures with confidence. Our students learn to think critically, develop their creativity, and engage diverse communities with thoughtfulness and respect.

Core Values

We believe:

  • Offering academic challenge across the disciplines at all age levels maximizes the growth of each Kirby student
  • Kirby’s inspiring faculty cultivate and model lifelong curiosity
  • Our commitment to small class sizes enables us to be responsive to every learner
  • Student confidence is supported by our close-knit culture of kindness and mutual respect
  • Young people who have an active voice in their own education and community will be motivated and enthusiastic learners
  • When adolescents are taught and encouraged to lead healthy, balanced lives, their learning capacity and happiness increase
  • Development of creativity and adaptability are crucial to a growth mindset and enhanced through exploration of a wide variety of arts, electives, and experiences
  • Collaboration among parents, faculty, and students is fundamental to student success
  • Culturally responsive education is a conscious, ever-deepening process of recognizing, exploring, and embracing our differences

Diversity Statement

The Kirby School embraces both the concept and the embodiment of diversity within its educational community.  Beyond the ethical imperative to create opportunity for a full range of families in the greater Santa Cruz area, the School believes that diversity fundamentally enhances the quality of education for all students.  Diverse socio-economic backgrounds, races and ethnicities, opinions, genders, sexual orientations, physical abilities, religious beliefs, and learning styles not only enliven the academic environment but serve vital imperatives of the School’s mission and strategic plan:

  • To support the School’s fundamental value of mutual respect within an inclusive environment
  • To collaborate with persons of varying perspectives
  • To instill multi-cultural awareness and global literacy
  • To foster a sense of world citizenship
  • To prepare students for the diverse higher education, employment, and cultural environments of the present and future

Kirby believes that the creation of a diverse community is not a destination, but, rather, it is a conscious, ever-deepening process of:

  • Infusing diverse voices and perspectives within the Curriculum
  • Ensuring that all students’ voices are respected and respectful when expressing social, political, or religious perspectives
  • Fostering curiosity about and respect for others within our community
  • Creating a safe space where differences are not only accepted at the surface level but explored and understood in depth
  • Challenging preconceptions and prejudices within a respectful academic environment
  • Allocating effort and financial resources to admit and retain students who will enrich the diversity of the student community
  • Allocating effort and financial resources to recruit and retain teachers, administrators, and staff who will enrich the diversity of the community

Our History

With the rich variety and abundance of independent elementary schools in Santa Cruz county, there had long been a dream of a comprehensive, non-sectarian, college-preparatory middle and high school to meet the needs of motivated students in the community. Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School opened its doors in 1994 in downtown Santa Cruz. In May of 2007 the school moved to its current location in the Harvey West Park area of Santa Cruz.

Our namesake, Georgiana Bruce Kirby, was a motivated and independent woman and a tireless advocate who worked vigorously toward her ideal of education and equality for all. A person of intellect, an advocate of social justice, and pioneer homesteader who came to the Santa Cruz community in 1850, she lived a passionate, balanced life of the mind, the heart, and hands that was well before her times.

Georgiana Bruce, born in England in 1818, immigrated to the United States when she was just twenty.  Living in Boston, she became fascinated with Transcendentalism, and in the 1840s spent four years at Brook Farm, a famous utopian community based on Transcendentalist ideals.  There she met many of the great thinkers of her time, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller.

After her stay at Brook Farm, Georgiana Bruce began a career in teaching and became active in the anti-slavery movement.  She also worked with Eliza Farnham at Sing Sing prison, where the two women instituted significant, though controversial, reforms in the treatment and education of the female inmates.  It was through Farnham, who had inherited property in California, that Georgiana Bruce found the opportunity to travel west.  With funding from journalist and politician Horace Greeley, Bruce arrived in the isolated community of Santa Cruz in the summer of 1850.

In Santa Cruz, Georgiana Bruce met and married local businessman Richard Kirby, had five children, and created her own home and garden.  She became a leading figure in the community and took up the causes of temperance and women’s suffrage, which she wrote about frequently in local and national papers.  In 1869 she founded the first local society of Suffragists.  Georgiana Bruce Kirby knew and collaborated with national women’s rights leaders such as Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Georgiana Bruce Kirby died in 1887 at the age of 68. Her memoirs, Years of Experience, were published the same year. Our school is proud to honor this pioneer, not only of the western frontier, but of the ever-present frontiers of education, enfranchisement and human dignity.