The Kinkaid School was founded in 1904 by Margaret Kinkaid, making it the oldest non-sectarian co-ed independent school in Houston and second oldest in the state of Texas.
From its strong academics to its numerous art programs to its award-winning sports teams, Kinkaid has made a lasting impact on the Houston community.
Scroll down to learn more about Kinkaid’s history and the Heads of School that have helped to make Kinkaid a leader in education.
In the year 1904, at the encouragement of local families, Margaret Kinkaid opened a neighborhood school in her home, a small cottage on the corner of Elgin and San Jacinto Streets.
Mrs. Kinkaid recessed the School for one year, 1905, to care for her newborn second son, William, before reopening the school in 1906. Mrs. Kinkaid was brilliant and far ahead of her time in recognizing the importance of educating the whole child, not just in the basics but in a variety of extracurricular experiences. She always wanted to know the student's views and took a personal interest in each boy and girl. Due to this inspired vision, the school grew exponentially. By the 1920s it had outgrown Mrs. Kinkaid’s house, and under her direction, the board of directors raised the money for a new facility. This new space allowed the school to expand even further into a full K-12 program in 1934.
Mrs. Kinkaid's approach to education in terms of “the wholly healthy child” created the foundation for the balanced excellence Kinkaid encourages today . Starting with a class of 7 students around a dining table in a small house, Kinkaid has grown to a population of over 1,400 students learning in facilities located on 64.5 acres. This legacy is a testament to Mrs. Kinkaid’s vision as well as to the enthusiasm and support of the more than 6,000 graduates and their families through the decades.
John Cooper, a graduate of Yale University, was rooted in the “academic East.” Until his appointment at Kinkaid, he had been Headmaster of the Keith Country Day School in Rockford, Illinois.
John Cooper went to work expanding and creating new programs. He organized a Dads’ Club and expanded athletics - a move that greatly improved Kinkaid’s reputation among high school-age boys. During the 1951-1952 school year, he established a Gilbert and Sullivan tradition at the School and an annual Book Fair. He created accelerated academic programs for ambitious students and remedial summer programs for those wanting help. In order to broaden the student body, he won Board approval for a scholarship program and solidly advanced an effort to admit children with diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds.
John Cooper led negotiations with the City of Piney Point, in which this parcel of land lay. Kinkaid was given permission to build on a 40-acre tract, and, to be a “good neighbor,” Kinkaid agreed to contribute $1,000 annually toward police and fire protection. The new Memorial campus of Kinkaid was dedicated in 1957 with John Cooper presiding.
John Cooper became the voice of the School. His words echoed in the school corridors. “Don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution.”
A new energy spread across the campus, reflecting John Cooper’s own celebrated spark and fire. Diversity grew in the 1960s and in 1970, under the leadership of Mr. Cooper and the board our first African-American students were admitted, fully integrating Kinkaid. Students of this time were busy: staying longer hours, participating in sports, rehearsing for theatre when classes were over. At the end of the 1978-1979 academic year, John Cooper resigned as Headmaster of Kinkaid after a term of 28 years. He had accomplished his goals. John Cooper’s egalitarian outlook had broadened Kinkaid with diverse enrollment, financial aid and innovative curriculum. Other accomplishments include the creation of the Endowment Fund, growing the Band Department and Interim Term program, and helping Kinkaid take its place among the most prestigious independent schools in the nation.
After an extensive search by The Kinkaid Board of Trustees, Glenn Ballard was persuaded to leave his position as Headmaster of the Hockaday School in Dallas to become the third Headmaster of Kinkaid. He was the unanimous choice of the Board who appreciated his youthful vigor and broad experience.
Glenn Ballard hit the ground running during the summer of 1979 before school opened. He clipped and pruned shrubs beside Julius, the groundskeeper and landscaper. He was to be seen in all corners of the campus making sure that everything was shipshape.
Under Glenn Ballard’s supervision, many promising programs at Kinkaid flourished, including Balloon Day, the visiting authors’ series, football festivities, and Interim Term. Administrative records were structured. In addition, an alumni magazine was developed, the Mothers’ Club grew, and new faculty members were attracted. Glenn Ballard immediately developed new sources for annual giving, which allowed the school to increase the number of teachers with advanced degrees.
Over Glenn Ballard’s 17 year tenure, he rarely missed a sports event, theatre production, or band concert. His resolve to improve every program, faculty hire, and paint job became renowned. His personal, handwritten birthday notes to students and faculty are legendary, and they are still keepsakes for many. He brought to Kinkaid a warmth and feeling of welcome. And, who could forget his beloved bulldog, Dolly, who was the delight of students as she followed him around the campus and took extended naps in his office?
Glenn Ballard’s retirement in 1996 signaled the end of yet another era of outstanding leadership at The Kinkaid School. He moved to Austin to pursue his many pastimes, but he has remained a part of the Kinkaid family and has seen two of his grandchildren graduate from the school.
Don North came to Kinkaid as Upper School Principal in 1983. He earned such a strong reputation at Kinkaid that he was invited in 1988 to become Headmaster of Durham Academy in Durham, North Carolina.
Then in 1996 Kinkaid contacted Don North again. Glenn Ballard was retiring, and the School wanted Don to become its new headmaster. Don said at the time that Kinkaid was the only school in America that could have lured him from Durham Academy.
“Kinkaid is a special school. What the School can offer students, parents, faculty, and staff is remarkable. The opportunity to return to Kinkaid as headmaster was impossible to resist.”
Don North is a believer in strategic planning, and soon after his arrival, Kinkaid embarked on comprehensive, formal long-term planning. The planning led first to the installation of a campus-wide, fiber-optic network and enhancements in technology that put Kinkaid in the vanguard of technology use among independent day schools. It next led to the inauguration of the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the history of the School. Building for the Next Century raised $47 million resulting in the construction of three new buildings—the Friedkin Family Lower School Building, the Kinkaid Theatre, and the Center for Student Life, Fine Arts, and Administration; a beautiful and popular quadrangle, an attractive and distinctive clock tower and two Lower School playgrounds; and the addition of over $7 million to the endowment. “Space that is designed and built with great care and skill communicates powerful messages to those who will work in that space, and leads inevitably to greater learning and accomplishment,” he stated. The capital campaign was one of the largest among day schools in the country at the time and drew national attention to Kinkaid and to Don North’s leadership.
One of his major accomplishments was assisting with the purchase of 24.6 acres of neighboring land, increasing the campus size by more than 60 percent. Under his leadership, Kinkaid’s athletics and arts programs continued to grow, playing a central role in students’ lives. In addition to his duties as headmaster, North taught English in the Upper School and served as president of the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest. He retired in 2013 and continues to make his home in Houston with his wife, Mary.
Dr. Andrew D. Martire began his service to Kinkaid in the summer of 2013. During his tenure as Kinkaid's fifth Head of School, he built strong and lasting relationships with the faculty and staff, students, and parents. He enhanced the School's national reputation with his commitment to balanced excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts. He placed great emphasis on culture and creating a welcoming environment for faculty, staff, and families.
In 2014, Andy Martire oversaw a $25 million campaign to build a four-story parking garage and the Dining and Learning Center. The parking garage opened in the spring of 2016, nearly doubling campus parking to 1,000 spots relieving parking issues. The Dining and Learning center opened in the fall of 2016, adding new learning centers for the Middle School and creating space to accommodate 450 diners.
Development of the western property continued with the start of the Go West Initiative, a project which added a redesigned campus entrance to improve traffic flow, an eight-court tennis complex, a practice baseball field with sports turf that can be used off-season for other sports, a multi-sport practice field with sports turf, and a large detention pond which helped minimize damage to the campus when Hurricane Harvey hit in August 2017. In true Kinkaid fashion, The Kinkaid community rallied to support faculty, staff, parents, and others impacted by the flooding. His leadership during this time kept the community together and truly formed #OneKinkaid.
In June of 2018, Dr. Martire announced that he was leaving his position to pursue other opportunities.
Dr.Ed Trusty, Jr. was unanimously appointed Interim Head of School in June 2018 and served until July 2020. He previously served as Kinkaid’s first Assistant Head of School appointed in 2014, and was a leadership mentor to students.
Under his leadership, the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Council was formed in 2019.
Dr. Trusty received a bachelor’s degree and Master of Arts in teaching from the University of Virginia, then a doctorate in urban education leadership from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.
He now serves as the Head of School at St. Paul’s School for boys in Brooklandville, Maryland.
The Kinkaid School has had three locations in the Houston area.
Margaret Kinkaid began to accept students at her house on the corner of Elgin and San Jacinto in 1904. Classes were put on hold in 1905 due to the birth of her son, William, and resumed again in 1906. However, Mrs. Kinkaid claimed 1906 as the year The Kinkaid School was founded, and that is the date that is celebrated today. By 1910, the school had outgrown the Kinkaids’ one-story house, so a second floor was added. Eventually the Kinkaid family moved out of the house and the entire building was devoted to the growing school. The school’s nascent club system and early symbols were developed and fostered at this location. Also, Margaret Kinkaid stressed as a founding value “concern for others” and insisted that students participate in community service, a legacy started at this campus that prevails today.
By 1920, Kinkaid had 125 students and eight full-time teachers. The growing student body and the need for direction in school affairs led to the appointment of the first Board of Trustees in 1924. It was a small but distinguished group of Houston’s leading citizens. They secured a new building on a site in Montrose, at the corner of Richmond and Graustark, which served the student body for the next 33 years. Alumni of the Richmond campus, fondly known as the “Richmond Guard,” recall modest classrooms, grand windows, and pathways of white gardenia trees, with large green spaces to accommodate the many outdoor activities encouraged by Mrs. Kinkaid.
Moving to the new campus allowed for an expanded club system as well as an athletics program for both boys and girls. It also provided the infrastructure for an Upper School curriculum, with the first high school graduating class matriculating in 1938.
The 1950s brought numerous changes to Kinkaid and its administration. After more than 45 years as an educator, Margaret Kinkaid announced her intention to retire. She carefully selected John Cooper to succeed her. By 1956, the Board of Trustees had added several new members, and they were once again seeking a larger site for the school’s campus. The current site in Piney Point Village is now centrally located, but it was considered an outlying area at the time. Still, the ample acreage and forested backdrop made for a perfect campus. The location permitted for further expansion in the years to come.
Kinkaid’s programs and facilities have continued to grow in the last 6 decades with recent additions being our parking garage and Dining and Learning Center. Upcoming construction for a new Lower School addition and a new Upper School will begin soon.