WHO ARE WE?
Our school was founded in 1949 with a mission that has never changed: We strive to glorify God as we develop boys in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. When you walk on campus, you will see our mission lived out as our teachers and boys work together to become stronger in both character and knowledge. We are striving to be mission-driven in all that we undertake from teaching the seven virtues to customizing our math program. We believe so strongly in our mission that it is hanging in every classroom, and we have asked each boy to memorize the statement beginning in first grade.
HOW ARE WE DOING AS A SCHOOL?
While there are always areas to work on in a school, I am proud of the accomplishments we have made over the past three years. Much of the school change to this point had its genesis in parent surveys conducted in 2015. From financial efforts to educational change, our mission drives all that we do. Over the past years we have added more sports, created new after-school activities, launched a band, changed the way we teach reading and writing, and the list goes on and on. I am thankful for how richly God has blessed us during this time and am excited for the next steps.
HOW CAN WE BE EVEN MORE MINDFUL OF OUR MISSION?
Our character education program is second to none. Building Boys, Making Men has shaped the lives of countless boys at PDS. The book Flight Plan is being taught in many different schools and churches around the country. The seven virtues permeate our school culture as we teach our boys to be Humble Heroes and Servant Leaders. As many will exclaim, the sixth grade year is a wonderful culmination of the teaching and learning that has happened in the younger grades.
The program is constantly being evaluated, and we have a deep desire to coordinate the program at an even higher level. Plans are being formed to create new and exciting content for our younger students. We are exploring the creation of early reader chapter books, graphic novels, coloring books, activity books, songs, and skits all designed to teach our seven virtues. Our deep goal is to help families continue the conversation regarding these virtues at home.
Recently we have begun a new program. Strategic Dads University began in January; hundreds of fathers from around our community have already benefitted from the teaching provided by several noted experts. Dads are hungry for content and information on how to be a better, stronger, and more strategic father. The education, support, and mentoring of fathers is an important next step as we work to strengthen community and educate the future leaders of Memphis and beyond. As we dream about the future of this program, I ask every member of the PDS community to pray about ways we can bring this program to an even larger audience.
ACCESS AND AFFORDABILITY
I have witnessed the sacrifices you have made for your sons to have access to this incredible education. Having lived in other parts of our country, I can say with certainty that our boys are receiving a world-class education that is the envy of many schools around the United States. Yet, we need to make certain this education is affordable and accessible for all qualified applicants.
Throughout these next years, we will be looking for ways to raise dollars to help make PDS a place for any boy who will thrive in our school. This is an opportunity for us to reach out to many areas of our city and partner with families who want the best for their child. The school already has an amazing track record of helping families in need. This program will be known as Young Scholars, and we have already had great success in identifying both students and donors.
At the same time, we want to make certain we are helping families who might benefit from a small amount of financial help. Each year there are families who decide not to apply to our great school due to financial barriers. Over time and with the growth of a robust endowment, we can take away many of those concerns. While many families will need to continue to sacrifice to have their son attend PDS, we have a long term goal of being able to meet 100% of every family’s demonstrated need. The possibilities are very exciting as we build a robust community that mirrors our city.
HOW CAN WE BETTER SUPPORT OUR TEACHERS?
Finally, one of the things that makes our school great is our teachers. Not only is the faculty devoted to our boys, but they are constantly learning how to become better at the craft of teaching. The teachers at PDS are continually training to create engaging classrooms where the customization of the curriculum for each individual is paramount. We need to honor and support these teachers like never before.
One way to honor teachers is by compensating them as true professionals. Over the past three years, modest tuition increases have been used to provide raises for our faculty and staff. Increases have ranged from 0–3% and have not resulted in great gains for our teachers. Many schools around the country have programs to additionally compensate teachers and provide continued professional development. A special task force of the Board of Trustees has been formed to find ways to secure funding to help retain and recruit the incredible faculty at PDS.
WHAT ABOUT CURRENT STUDENTS?
Detailed above are ways in which our mission can continue to expand. These expansions will serve our current and future students. As we expand our Building Boys, Making Men program to the younger grades, we will experience a greater depth of understanding of the Seven Virtues of Manhood. Creating an even more diverse school will build a school that will mirror our city and create a future for understanding that must begin with our children. Finally, our teachers pour their hearts out to our boys, and we need to encourage and support them in every way possible.