As Charles Hurlburt faced the common dilemma of either relinquishing his children to education in England, or abandoning his calling, he devised a surprising solution: he’d keep both. He asked Josephine Hope to teach his children right here in Kenya. They soon drew up plans for dormitory and classroom space, and in 1909, President Teddy Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the main building, Kiambogo. Early decades were marked by difficulty recruiting staff, further complicated by World War I and later II. Herb and Mildred Downing took up the mantle of leadership during this lean period. They pleaded for teachers and funding, recognizing that the school was vital to parents’ ability to stay on the field. RVA expanded its facilities and extended education through the twelfth grade, hosting its first graduating class in 1950.
Kenya’s independence in 1963 launched an era of growth at RVA. The school established athletic, music, and drama programs, and a spirit of educational excellence emerged. In 1967, under Roy Entwistle’s leadership, RVA was the first school in Africa to receive American accreditation.
Subsequent decades saw continued growth in enrollment and facilities, as well as a focus on creating a nurturing environment for RVA’s students. The school gained national recognition in the arts and athletics, and global recognition in academics.
At present, RVA serves about 500 students from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia, and the school continues its march toward spiritual vibrancy and academic excellence.
Rift Valley Academy sits on 90 acres of the upper escarpment overlooking Kenya’s vast and sunlit Rift Valley. At an elevation of more than 7,000 feet, RVA is sometimes referred to as the school in the clouds, and the campus is frequented by monkeys, baboons, and exotic birdlife.
RVA is comprised of an elementary, a junior high, and a senior high school. The campus contains nineteen student dormitories, staff housing, a gymnasium, a music building, a drama hall, two sports fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, elementary recreational areas, a chapel, a cafeteria, an administrative building, and numerous facilities such as student health, counseling, and laundry, all of which support the daily and long-term needs of boarding students and staff families.
The Mission Statement of RVA is: Educating and discipling students toward their potential in Christ thus enabling families to serve. As RVA students grow holistically, they learn how to apply biblical truth in the world around them, develop God-given abilities to impact the world for Christ, and lead healthy lives that contribute positively in their communities.