The Branson School

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The Branson School
The Branson School logo.png
39 Fernhill Avenue
Ross, California
United States
Type Independent, College-prep
Motto Beauty is Truth - Truth Beauty
"Small, but Mighty"
Established 1920
CEEB code 052695
Principal Christina Mazzola
Faculty 51
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 320
Average class size 13 students
Student to teacher ratio 6:1
Campus Suburban, 17 acres (0.069 km2)
Color(s) Blue and Green (     and     )
Mascot Bulls
Information 415-454-3612

The Branson School (also known as Branson, Branson School, or KBS) is a co-educational college-preparatory high school for students in grades 9–12. The school has 320 students, and is located in Ross, California, 11 miles north of San Francisco.



In 1916, a group of 15 families in Marin County, California pooled resources to start a local private school. The Little Gray School was finished in 1917 on the Cochrane Estate in San Rafael, California, next to what is now the San Rafael Public Library. The school began as a coeducational primary school, for students in grades 1–4. In 1918, the school added intermediate and upper levels, both of which were limited to girls, and was renamed the San Rafael School for Girls.[1]

Katharine Fleming Branson
Portrait of school's namesake, headmistress Katharine Fleming Branson

In April 1920, the school's trustees appointed two co-headmistresses, Katharine Fleming Branson and her sister Laura Elizabeth Branson. The eldest of the two sisters, Katharine Fleming Branson was Associate Director of Studies at the Beard School in Orange, New Jersey. Laura Elizabeth Branson was a teacher of mathematics and science at The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and had formerly served as head of the Department of Mathematics at Rosemary Hall in Greenwich, Connecticut. Both sisters were cum laude graduates of Bryn Mawr College.

On September 6, 1920, The Katharine Branson School officially opened, with 54 students enrolled in grades 1–11. The following year, the school added a kindergarten and a 12th grade, and in 1922 moved to its present campus in Ross, California. At its inception, the school included boys in the lower grades, but in the ensuing years the lower grades were discontinued, and the school became a boarding school for young women. In 1959, the Katharine Branson School became a secondary school for both day and boarding students.

Branson girls raking leaves in front of the Residential Hall in the 1950s

In 1972, the school's board of trustees established Mount Tamalpais School, a day school for boys on the Katharine Branson School campus. MTS, with the same academic standards and basic philosophy as KBS, also shared a common board of trustees, faculty, and administrative staff. The boys' school used the upper part of the Katharine Branson School campus for their first years in operation, while the girls' classes took place on the lower part of the campus.

In January 1978, after extensive deliberation, the trustees decided to accept no further applications from boarding students, making 1981 the final year with boarding students.


The division of the two schools by gender started to become obsolete by the 1980s, as the two schools shared faculty, trustees, and curriculum. In July 1985, The Katharine Branson School and the Mount Tamalpais School were finally merged into one coeducational private day school, under the name The Branson School. Today the school is approximately evenly composed of boys and girls.

Recent History[edit]

The Branson School has a reputation of being an exclusive and academically acclaimed school,[2] due to its expensive tuition and low acceptance rate of around 80 accepted students to over 400 applicants. Attempts to raise the class size from 80 students by the board have been met with resistance from the residents of the town of Ross. Plans to move the school began in 2010, with several locations around Marin County being considered.

Former headmaster Thomas "Woody" Price resigned after being arrested on felony drug charges in October 2014, and recently pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges that resulted in 3 years probation.[3] Subsequently, former Mark Day School headmaster and Branson Trustee Damon Kerby served as an Interim Head of School while a search committee for a permanent replacement was found. Ellen Moceri took over the position of Interim Head of School in 2015, and effective July 1, 2016, Christina Mazzola became the official Head of School.[4]

Campus Facilities[edit]

Academic facilities[edit]

  • The Tallant Science Center is home to most science classes at Branson. The center is 6,000 square feet, and contains science labs, prep spaces and storage rooms.
  • New Oaks contains most of the mathematics and language classes at Branson.
  • Study Hall is composed of English and History classrooms, and a computer lab.

Athletic Facilities[edit]

  • The Athletics Center at Branson contains two gyms and a workout facility.
  • The Tom Ryan Field is a full-size turf field dedicated to Tom Ryan.

Student facilities[edit]

  • The Academic Quad is an open quadrangle surrounded by most of the classrooms at the school.
  • The Jewett Theater is a theater used for plays and assembly.
  • The Student Commons is an LEED Platinum-certified common area for students.[5]
  • The Rand Center is a center committed to providing a learning resource for students; the center is dedicated to Allen Rand.[6]

Notable Alumni[edit]

Coordinates: 37°57′56″N 122°33′57″W / 37.96556°N 122.56583°W / 37.96556; -122.56583


  1. ^ "Our History / Branson's History". Branson School Website. The Branson School. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ O'Shaughnessy, Lynn (May 11, 2011). "A West Coast Ivy League Hook". CBS News. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ Kim, Lilian. "Headmaster of Branson School Arrested on Drug Charges". ABC7News. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  4. ^ The Branson School. "Our Next Head of School". Head of School Search. The Branson School. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  5. ^ "Green could lead to platinum for Branson School". Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  6. ^ "The Rand Center, Committed to Accommodations * The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity". Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  7. ^ Ray, Justin (July 24, 2013). "25 Things You Didn't Know About Edie Sedgwick". Complex. Retrieved December 22, 2015.