At A Glance

The Barstow School is a co-educational school where students in preschool through twelfth grade develop in a challenging educational community. As originally stated by Mary Louise Barstow, the objective of the school remains “to promote sound scholarship and to give symmetrical development to mind, body and character.”

"Participants, not spectators."

This is how I sum up the difference a Barstow education can make in the life of a young person. We take kids off the bleachers and put them in the game, we take them out of the audience and put them on the stage, we take them out of the classroom and put them in the world.
How do we do this? We admit curious, passionate learners. We attract and retain faculty who are much more than teachers. They are experts in their fields and lifelong mentors. We fold it all into 130 years of experience and tradition.

If you are a curious, passionate learner, welcome to The Barstow School.

Shane A. Foster
President and Head of School

Barstow History

List of 4 items.

  • IN THE BEGINNING 1884-1924

    The Barstow School is the oldest independent, co-educational college preparatory school in Kansas City.  It was founded in 1884 by two Wellesley College graduates, Mary Barstow and Ada Brann, in response to the need for a local school comparable to the outstanding independent schools in the East.  As both Barstow and Kansas City grew and prospered, the school's location moved several times.  Throughout the years and despite the changes in location, Barstow's mission remains the same:  "to promote sound scholarship and to give symmetrical development to mind, body and character."

    • (1884) 1204 Broadway – First home of the “School for Girls” – Miss Ada Brann and Miss Mary Louise Barstow, Associate Principals
    • (1893) A location change within Quality Hill, and a name change to “Kansas City Home and Day School”
    • (1898) The first real move “south”: The school relocates to 15 Westport Road around 1900. The new home is a four-story building on a large acreage bound by Westport Road, Main Street and 40th Street, capable of housing 150 students.
    • (1923) After 39 successful years, Miss Barstow retired to Maine, and The Barstow School incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with governance through a Board of Trustees.
    • (1924) 4950 Cherry became Barstow's fourth home through a building project worth $170,000.
    In the 1909 catalog Miss Barstow announces:“The object of the school is to promote sound Scholarship and to give Symmetrical development to Mind, body and character.” (Standards High)
  • THE ROUGH SPOT 1925-1945

    Although the 1920s were prosperous for Barstow, the Depression affected the School’s enrollment and finances with a vengeance. 1934 was the School’s Golden Jubilee, although hardly jubilant. The Trustees carried the School through its toughest economic challenge. Through diligent fundraising and a certain amount of borrowing, the school raised approximately $200,000 to finance the move from Westport to the Laura Kirkwood Nelson lot at 50th and Cherry. Three buildings – a school building, a dormitory and a gym were constructed.
  • INNOVATION 1946-1961

    By 1947, enrollment reached 180, the mortgages were paid off, and faculty salaries were raised. In 1950, Richard Sears (the first male head of school) was hired and brought with him grand ideas about Barstow’s capabilities and its future place in Kansas City.
    Mr. Sears and the trustees debated several key issues to Barstow’s future. Expanded facilities at 5110 Cherry were considered, but the question of co-education had to be settled before expansion could be embraced. By April 1958, the Board decided that “long range planning should probably be aimed at securing a suitable campus for the achievement of whole school and co-education.”
  • THE CORNFIELD 1962-1999

    In a nutshell, Barstow needed to raise $2.1 million to move to the new school in the country cornfield – and once again, Barstow reinvented itself. In 1961, Barstow’s enrollment was 313 and only 3 of those students lived south of 103rd Street – today the overwhelming majority of more than 600 students live “out south”. Another milestone decision made at the same time was that of accepting boys in all grade levels.  The first co-ed graduating class was 1972.  The Trustees of the late 1950s correctly predicted the future growth of the city, and Barstow has been the beneficiary of such foresight.

Our Second Century 2000-Today

The first decade of Barstow’s second century has been characterized by things new and technological. Little did anyone dream, when the building was shiny and new in 1962, that it would need complete rewiring in forty years. No one would have grasped the fact that students would walk from class to class holding laptop computers—and that those computers would be communicating with everyone on campus via wireless technology.

Many of the changes at the State Line campus in the second century have been in response to positive directives. Enrollment increased, at some points as expected, and at some points in fits and starts. Nonetheless, it became clear during the 1990s that the existing lower school building could no longer serve the needs of the smallest students. By 2006, a wonderfully efficient and effective building with pods for each age group and a commons area had been completed. Green techniques used in planning and construction were ahead of the popular push for environmental considerations in most construction projects. It was a hard-fought answer to the wake-up call, the forty-year-old campus was falling behind the times.
Also on the punch list for the early 2000s were increased parking space, a new track, a competitive baseball field, the aforementioned computers with wiring and wireless and maintenance galore. Another contribution to the ever-expanding Barstow curriculum is the creation of the Barstow Television Network. BTVN's anchors, reporters, photographers and producers are creating a history of everyday school life in the 21st century.

Our Goals & Vision

List of 2 items.

  • Goals

    The goals of The Barstow School are to:

    • graduate well-rounded and self-confident individuals;
    • offer a rigorous and challenging college preparatory curriculum;
    • provide opportunities to develop leadership and enhance skills for lifelong learning;
    • develop highly skilled, ethical users of technology;
    • maintain a community that is diverse, accepting and inclusive;
    • promote service work to the community by students and adults;
    • foster open communication among all constituents in the Barstow community;
    • encourage the development of faculty through ongoing learning opportunities;
    • act as good stewards of the institution’s physical, financial and human resources.
  • Vision

    The founders and subsequent generations of The Barstow School envision a school where a community of learners, adults and children of all ages, come together in a mutually supportive, trusting environment that nurtures intellectual, physical, emotional and moral growth. In support of its legacy, Barstow envisions an educationally challenging community where…

    • students strive to be honest and trusting, expecting those same virtues from other community members;
    • reason, imagination and physical activity are necessary aspects of healthy development;
    • students learn to take risks while pursuing excellence in all their activities, developing the resilience to learn from failures without damage to their psyches or their futures;
    • students work and play in an emotionally safe and physically secure environment;
    • students learn to accept the freedoms and responsibilities necessary to support a democratic community;
    • students are open-minded, idealistic and accepting;
    • students develop self-discipline and, as a result, self-reliance;
    • students articulate their understanding, listen to the thoughts of others, and share in a dialogue beneficial to the whole community;
    • students demonstrate their knowledge through performance, presentation, and application, in addition to conventional assessments;
    • students learn through extracurricular activities the importance of following rules precisely, practicing skills rigorously and winning and losing graciously;
    • educators and parents share with young people the joy and pride of their accomplishments;
    • adults strive to model for students the highest standards of excellence, honesty, trust, and respect.

Our History

List of 4 items.

  • Founders 1884

    A. W. Armour
    T. B. Bullene
    J. V. C. Karnes
    William Rockhill Nelson
    A. R. Meyer
    Gardiner Lathrop
    The Reverend Henry Hopkins
    Colonel C. F. Morse
    General H. F. Devol
    Medill Smith
  • Heads of School

    Miss Ada Brann
    Miss Mary Louise Barstow
    Miss Rose Adelaide Witham
    Mrs. Helen Burton Williams
    Miss Mercer Kendig
    Miss Winifred Turner
    Mr. Richard Sears
    Mr. Donald A. Gordon
    Mr. Gordon Kent Lenci
    Dr. James H. McK. Quinn
    Mr. Michael S. B. Churchman
    Mr. Deane R. Lanphear
    Mr. Thomas M. Reefer
    Mr. James E. Achterberg
    Mr. Charles H. Sachs
    Mr. Arthur N. Atkison
    Mr. Shane A. Foster
  • Original Board of Trustees

    Fred W. Fleming, President
    Marvin H. Gates, Secretary
    Otho C. Snider, Treasurer

    W. Wyan Goodwin
    Thomas J. Green
    J. E. Hutt
    Irwin R. Kirkwood
    H. M. C. Low
    A. B. H. McGee
    Samuel W. Sawyer
    Mrs. Frances Lathrop Schott
    Judge Kimbrough Stone
  • Signers of Articles of Incorporation, June, 1923

    Fred W. Fleming
    Heath Moore
    William H. Scarritt
    John H. Lathrop
    Rose Adelaide Witham
    H. M. C. Low
    Otho C. Snider
    Marvin H. Gates
    Samuel W. Sawyer
    J. E. Maxwell
    H. E. Minty
    J. E. Hutt

The Barstow School

11511 State Line Road • Kansas City, MO 64114
P (816) 942-3255 • F (816) 942-3227