A Liberal Arts Legacy Since 1973
Huntington-Surrey was founded in 1973 because something was missing from mainstream education.
Some people call it the “factory model” – in most high schools, public or private, the student is not cultivated as an individual. They’re a number, one face in a crowd. Between excessive standardized testing and unacceptably high student-teacher ratios, it’s all too easy for someone who marches to the beat of a different drummer to fall through the cracks. No matter how dedicated and hardworking their teachers are, there’s only so much they can do within the constraints of a mainstream school.
Huntington-Surrey was established to offer something different: a place where bright, divergent thinkers were embraced and uplifted through their unique individuality, not despite it; a place where students learn how to think, not what to think; and a place where the academic rigor of a top-notch college-prep education marries the warm embrace and individualized support of an affirming, loving school family. This is our educational philosophy, the Huntington-Surrey difference: College Prep With Heart.
Armed with that vision, our Founder Emerita – Light German, PhD – served as Huntington-Surrey’s Head of School for decades. She shepherded us from the 70s into the 2000s, developing our unique College Prep With Heart pedagogical philosophy, our individualized-teaching small-group model, and our flagship academic program, Individual Literature, assisted by Johni Walker-Little.
As we’ve grown and changed over the years, becoming regionally accredited in the 80s through SACS (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, now Cognia – the same body that accredits AISD high schools) and continually refining our approach, those core fundamentals have remained constant.
Huntington-Surrey means rigorous academics within an affirming, person-centered community.
In 2009, Margaret Connor joined Huntington-Surrey as a science teacher, bringing a background as a research chemist and firefighter safety equipment consultant. Since 2021, she has served as Huntington-Surrey’s new Head of School.
Margaret’s administration has emphasized both continuity and new development: she’s maintained our longstanding focus on the fundamentals of our College Prep With Heart philosophy, including expanding Individual Literature and offering it via distance learning to students all across Texas. Now, this one-of-a-kind educational resource is no longer limited in access by geography or Huntington-Surrey enrollment status: everyone can reap the rewards of engaging in-depth with the world’s literary traditions in conversation with an experienced, enthusiastic one-on-one teacher. Additionally, she’s emphasized our commitment to genuine inclusivity – in 2022, we became the first and only high school to join the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce - and overseen the establishment of the Huntington-Surrey Alumni Association, making sure that our graduates remain part of the Huntington-Surrey family, passing along the benefit of their experience and success to each new rising generation of students.
These values are even expressed in our name: Huntington comes from the medieval Earl of Huntingdon, whom some historians believe to have been the reality behind the legend of Robin Hood. Robin Hood knows his values and sticks to them come what may, even when that means standing against the current of mainstream society – and makes the world better for everybody in the process. Meanwhile, Surrey comes from Runnymede in Surrey, England: the place where the Magna Carta was signed, ushering in a long tradition of rights and responsibilities within a self-governing community that eventually led to the most progressive ideals of American democracy. Huntington-Surrey stands for strong individual ideals in the service of each other and the community: uniqueness and courage in the pursuit of caring and respect as well as excellence.
Our half-century-long history has brought us both triumphs and challenges, most recently as we’ve navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as we made the transition to distance learning early in the pandemic and then back to in-person instruction under our new Head of School’s confident guidance, Huntington-Surrey has not had to lose one single day of instruction. Throughout all of our growth and change, we’ve retained our fundamentals: college-prep rigor plus warm, individualized community affirmation. This was validated last year during our Spring 2022 accreditation review from Cognia (formerly SACS): Cognia assesses each of its member schools on a holistic scale called the IEQ (Index of Educational Quality). The average accredited school’s IEQ score is between 278.34 and 283. A score of 300 or more indicates a truly unusual degree of excellence. Huntington-Surrey’s IEQ score is an extraordinary 342.5!
Now, Huntington-Surrey is fast approaching our 50th anniversary in 2023. Stay posted for details: we’re having a party, and you’re invited! Right now, we’re in the planning stages for the school’s birthday bash: now is the time to reach out and volunteer. We need our entire community’s help to make Huntington-Surrey’s 50th Anniversary Gala an event to remember, so contact us now to help in any way you can!