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Leadership

Lee Burns, Headmaster

Lee Burns serves as headmaster of Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving approximately 640 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis. He has served as headmaster since 2000.


A Chattanooga, Tennessee, native and alumnus of the McCallie School, Burns graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College, and he earned his master’s degree in educational administration at Harvard. He has also studied at the London School of Economics and worked at a law firm in New York City.

Prior to being appointed PDS headmaster in 2000, he served as a teacher, coach and administrator at Christ School (a high school boys' boarding school in North Carolina) and as the Director of Day Student Admission at the McCallie School in Chattanooga. He currently serves as the President of the Elementary School Heads Association (a group of approximately 235 heads of K-6 and K-8 independent schools around the country), and he is a member of the Country Day School Headmasters Association and the Visionary Heads Group. He served as a task force member to help the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) develop Principles of Good Practice for Middle School Educators.

He has been a presenter at annual conferences of the National Association of Independent Schools, the International Boys’ School Coalition, the Educational Records Bureau, and the Elementary School Heads Association. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence, an institute which provides professional development for public and independent schools. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Hillside School, an independent boys' boarding school near Boston.

Mr. Burns has been an avid tennis player, winning six state championships as a junior or adult. He still enjoys tennis, squash, and most any sport, as well as reading and writing. He has co-authored a book on a boy’s journey to manhood, Flight Plan: Your Mission To Become A Man, and he has been published in Independent School, a magazine published by the National Association of Independent Schools.

He is married to Sarah, and they have three children. They are members of Second Presbyterian Church, where he serves as an elder.

Administrator Bios

  • Lee Burns, Headmaster
    Lee Burns serves as headmaster of Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving approximately 640 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis. He has served as headmaster since 2000.
    A Chattanooga, Tennessee, native and alumnus of the McCallie School, Burns graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College, and he earned his master’s degree in educational administration at Harvard. He has also studied at the London School of Economics and worked at a law firm in New York City.
    Prior... Read more
    Susan Droke, Assistant Headmaster for Teaching and Learning
    Susan Droke currently serves as Assistant Headmaster for Teaching and Learning at Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent all boys’ school located in Memphis, TN.

    Susan, a lifelong Memphian, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Memphis with a degree in elementary education. She returned to the University of Memphis and also earned her master’s degree in education with an emphasis in reading instruction

    During her teaching career in both public and... Read more
    Debbie Isom, Head of Early Childhood
    Debbie Isom currently serves as the Head of Early Childhood at Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent all boys’ school located in Memphis, TN. 

    Debbie earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL.  Upon returning to Tennessee, she added an Early Childhood endorsement from the University of Tennessee and earned a Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Memphis.

    She began... Read more
    Mark Fruitt, Principal of the Elementary Division
    Mark Fruitt serves as Elementary Principal of Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis.

    Born and raised in Memphis, Fruitt earned his undergraduate and master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Memphis. Before coming to PDS in 2004, he served as a teacher, head varsity boys basketball coach, assistant varsity football coach and Dean of Students at First Assembly Christian School. Also during... Read more
    Steve Hearn, Chief Advancement Officer
    Steve Hearn serves as Chief Advancement Officer at Presbyterian Day School (PDS) of Memphis, TN, one of the country’s leading independent schools for boys. As Chief Advancement Officer at PDS, he is responsible for overseeing all institutional initiatives related to enrollment, fundraising, marketing, alumni and parent programs, and strategic planning. 

    Steve has a wide range of advancement experience, both in independent schools and institutions of higher education. Prior to joining PDS, he served as... Read more
    Jill Kauffman, Chief Financial Officer
    Jill Kauffman serves as Chief Financial Officer at Presbyterian Day School (PDS) of Memphis, TN.  PDS is one of the country’s leading independent schools for boys. As Chief Financial Officer at PDS, she is responsible for overseeing all financial aspects of the school’s operations.
    Jill graduated magna cum laude form the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting. She has the certification of Certified Public Accountant. Jill began her career in Atlanta,... Read more
  • Cathy Kyle, Chief Information Officer
    Cathy Kyle serves as Chief Information Officer of Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Kyle, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, graduated magna cum laude from Memphis State University (now University of Memphis) with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. She earned a master’s degree in educational technology from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA). She began her career at PDS in 1991 as a... Read more
    Dennis Smith, Director of Athletics and Operations
    Dennis Smith serves as Director of Athletics and Operations at Presbyterian Day School (PDS) of Memphis, TN, one of the largest elementary boys' schools in the country.

    Dennis, born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, graduated from The University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. He began his career at PDS in 1987, spending the last 22 years teaching, coaching and mentoring students.
    Working with youth from all areas of the mid-south,... Read more
    Kathleen McCallen, Director of Auxiliary Programs
    Kathleen McCallen serves as Director of Auxiliary Programs of Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis, Tennessee.

    McCallen, born and raised in Memphis, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville before picking up and moving to the small town of Nairn in Scotland, where she served as the Youth and Children's Worker at the Nairn Free Church for... Read more
    Jan Conder, Director of Admission and Enrollment
    Jan Conder serves as Director of Admission and Enrollment at Presbyterian Day School, an elementary school serving over 630 boys in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 6.

    A native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Jan pursued a degree in Business Administration from Western Michigan University. She joined the staff of Presbyterian Day School in 1987 as the Administrative Assistant to the Headmaster, and was named the first Director of Admission of the school in 2001. Her responsibilities were... Read more
    Lee Rantzow, Director Of Annual Giving and Public Relations
    Lee Martin Rantzow serves as the Director of Annual Giving and Public Relations at Presbyterian Day School (PDS) of Memphis, TN. PDS is one of the country’s leading independent schools for boys. Lee has been at PDS since the Fall of 2003. 
    A native Memphian, Lee attended St. Mary's Episcopal School for 14 years. She graduated from The University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a minor in Psychology.
    Lee worked in Birmingham,... Read more
    Winston Baccus, Director of Communications
    Winston Baccus serves as the Director of Communications of Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis. 

    Winston is a native of Sheffield, Alabama. He earned his undergraduate degree in Advertising from The University of Alabama in 1998.

    Prior to joining the PDS Advancement department in 2003, he worked as an interactive art director for the Ramey Agency in Ridegland, MS, and as an art director... Read more
  • Braxton Brady, Chaplain and Director of the Building Boys, Making Men Program
    Braxton Brady serves as Chaplain and Director of the Building Boys, Making Men Program at Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis.

    Brady, born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, graduated from Memphis University School and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis. Braxton has a master’s degree in theological studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. Before coming to PDS in 2004, he served as Bible... Read more
    Ross Spain, Dean of Students
    Ross Spain serves as Dean of Students of Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving over 630 boys in Memphis. 

    Ross, raised in Memphis, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Memphis. He has been a 5th grade teacher and a 7th and 8th grade basketball coach.
    Prior to his return to PDS in 2009 (he was a Physical Education Teacher and Coach at PDS from 1999-2004),... Read more
    Cynthia Cross, Director of Alumni, Special Events and PA Liaison
    Cynthia Britton Cross serves as Alumni Director, Special Events Coordinator, and the Parents’ Association Liaison for Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school for boys in Memphis Tennessee.  PDS has approximately 630 boys in grades PK – 6 with over 3000 alumni.

    A native Memphian, Cross graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Science double major in Economics and Sociology.
    Cross currently serves as the president of the Memphis Vanderbilt Alumni Chapter.   She... Read more
    Cheryl Burkart, Director of Administrative Support
    Cheryl is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She attended the University of Memphis. She began her career at PDS in 2004 as Administrative Assistant to Headmaster Lee Burns. In 2008, she became Director of Administrative Support, coordinating logistical details throughout the school. She is the primary support for Headmaster, Lee Burns. 
    She supports Director of Operations and Athletics Director, Dennis Smith, with facilities and is the liaison between PDS and 2PC with scheduling facilities. She supports... Read more
    Cynthia Graham, Director of Major Gifts
    Cynthia Graham serves as Director of Major Gifts at Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis.  As Director of Major Gifts at PDS, she is primarily focused on raising funds for the Building Boys, Making Men Capital Campaign, scholarships and the Martin Institute of Teaching Excellence. 
    Cynthia is a native of Parsons, TN. She graduated from The University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Communications majoring in... Read more
    Kim Bridgforth, Advancement Officer
    Kim Wyatt Bridgforth serves as the Advancement Officer at Presbyterian Day School, an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades Pre-K through 6th grade in Memphis, Tennessee.
    A native of the Mid-South, Kim attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in History.  Kim spent several years in Colorado and Minnesota working as a pharmaceutical sales representative before returning to the South.... Read more