Brian Yager, Head of School
Welcome to Keystone,
In 2006, the College Board designated Keystone as “the best school in the world….” The College Board based this proclamation on the amazing results our students typically achieve on advance placement exams. While the College Board no longer makes such distinctions, their comments beg the question: Did the College Board have it right?
It seems unlikely that a school of Keystone’s size, relative youth, and limited reputation could even be a candidate for best school in the world. However, when one looks at who we are and the things we accomplish, there are actually many attributes which support the position. In fact, it is quite remarkable how amazing this place is. There are four components of Keystone that affirm our place among, if not at the top of, the list of best schools in the world.
First, Keystone students have demonstrated time and time again that they are among the brightest and most accomplished students in the country. On average, 20% of our seniors are National Merit Finalists (which means that 20% of our seniors score in the top 0.5% of the SAT exam compared to all students who take the test in the state of Texas). Keystone students routinely excel in academic competitions: this year alone, Keystone students claimed two of the three top individual honors and the top three team awards at the Alamo Regional Science Fair, with four students qualifying for an all-expense paid trip the INTEL International Science Fair in Los Angeles; four ninth grade students took first place in the regional WorldQuest History Day, and placed an amazing second at the National competition in Washington DC; and a team comprised of fifth graders is heading to the DC in May to compete in the World Finals of the Odyssey of the Mind competition. Colleges and universities recognize the excellence of our students not only through the admissions process, but also through the merit aid awards our students receive; in 2010-2011, Keystone’s 28 seniors were awarded $4.8 million in merit scholarships.
Second, Keystone is one of the more diverse independent schools in the country. We embrace students of all backgrounds, as our only criteria for admissions are the ability and the desire to learn. Consequently, over 55% of our students are non-Anglo. This diversity adds tremendously to our learning environment, and it adds to our positive impact on the worlds beyond our campus.
Third, we are blessed with a culture that not only embraces learning, but that celebrates it. There is a joy in the process of learning here, supported by the attitudes and efforts of both the teachers and the students. From kindergarten to twelfth grade, our students are eager to learn. Though challenging and requiring hard work – especially in the upper school – learning at Keystone is the focal point of all that we do and all that we celebrate.
Fourth, we are able to provide this incredible education in an incredibly efficient manner. Our tuition is lower than our local peer institutions, and significantly lower than other schools around the country who might lay claim to the title of “best in the world.” We manage to make this happen by sticking to our core strengths and by keeping overhead costs down (as a percentage of our budget, our non-programmatic costs are 50% lower than the national average).
Are we the best school in the world? There are other institutions which have similar levels of diversity. Some schools can boast impressive student accomplishments similar to ours, and a few schools celebrate learning as eagerly as we do. But, no school does all of these three things as well as Keystone. To do so with the efficiency of resource allocation that we manage here only adds to the argument that the College Board was on to something when it proclaimed us to be “the best in the world.”
Brian Yager, Head of School