Our Founding

Our Founding

Jenny Dunning, Risa Wilkins McKinney, John Duhon

Long-time educators, John Duhon, Risa Wilkins McKinney, and Jenny Dunning recognized the early warning signs of an educational system moving away from foundational and developmental learning and towards the governmental mandate of “teaching to the test.” Short-term memorization was replacing the long-term application of knowledge and problem-solving skills. In the current mainstream environment, children have more homework, less free time, and more stress, yet our schools are turning out a workforce of diminishing qualifications.

In December 2004, these three educators established Keystone Adventure School and Farm to meet a need previously unmet in our community by providing an environment that facilitates the diverse ways in which each child learns. The school opened its doors to students in September 2005. Children come to Keystone from private, public and home schools, bringing with them many learning styles. At Keystone, “The Magic is in the Mix” refers to our careful combinations of these learning styles within the classrooms and multi-aged projects. In this way, we are able to provide safe learning environments for all of our children. We admit “one child at a time,” in order to ensure the balance of learning differences.

This results in a “win-win” situation in which each type of learner acquires innovative thinking and problem-solving skills. Academics are truly developmental, ensuring the secure infrastructure that allows children the opportunity to take important risks in learning. In order to create an environment in which children feel secure enough to take those risks and find the problems that need to be solved, unstructured, yet supported time is a necessity. Life application of everyday problems, daily chores with the animals, and school maintenance create opportunities for self-respect and accountability.

Our Campus and Property

This property was once owned by a man named C. Hubert Gragg. The “farm house” that serves as our school was actually built more than 50 years ago by Hubert as a home for his family. He loved the land and preserved it for his horses and other critters who called the creek and pasture home. The building we call our schoolhouse, he and his family called “home.” His children played in the dirt, wandered the creek, climbed the trees, and ate on the back porch. So in some ways, not much has changed!

In the Fall of 2012, through hard work and a bit of magic, 96-year-old Hubert came to visit Keystone. He brought his wife, Rae, and his grandson, Zach. The Keystone Kids greeted him with “Welcome Home, Bud!” They sang Keystone songs and showed off their school. He told them stories of “The Old Days” on the farm. They told him stories of “These Days,” and he shed happy tears. Mr. Gragg’s homecoming to Keystone was Full Circle.

Hubert Gragg passed away in 2019 at the age of 100, but his legacy lives on at Keystone: he has one grandchild and three great-grandchildren who have roamed his old house and farm as proud Keystone kids. The house and land he tended have brought joy to generations of children, and we are grateful to be a part of his story.

See Keystone Kids in Action

Let the Adventure Begin!