teachers, coaches,
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teachers, coaches, and mentors


Administrator Written by  Jul 03, 2013

Headmaster Lee Burns' Letter of Resignation to PDS Board Chairman Don Batchelor

June 28, 2013


Mr. Don Batchelor

Chairman, PDS Board of Trustees

4025 Poplar Avenue

Memphis, TN 38111


Dear Don:

It is with deep sorrow and an abiding love and gratitude for PDS that I write you this letter to offer my resignation from PDS, effective July 31, 2014, as I am accepting the opportunity to serve as the Headmaster of the McCallie School, my hometown school of which I am an alumnus, as is my brother, father and grandfather (who served there for 47 years as a beloved teacher and administrator).

Aside from my faith and family, I have counted the greatest blessing of my life the opportunity to serve as PDS Headmaster since 2000. PDS has, to me, been more than a job; it has been and remains a calling; it is more than a school, organization or community; it is a family in which the Burns family has felt, experienced and shared great love, support and unity.

Making this decision has been the most agonizing one that Sarah and I have ever experienced. We have prayed frequently and extensively about what to do, sought discernment and application from Biblical principles, and gathered wise counsel from godly individuals. In considering even the idea of leaving PDS, we have not just shed many tears, but wept deeply and often.

We grieve in leaving behind an incredible school with a powerful mission of striving to glorify God by developing boys in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. I will miss the PDS boys, whose character, faith, hard work and accomplishments inspire me. I will miss the faculty and staff, whose dedication, love for the boys, and teaching/mentoring are absolutely outstanding. I will miss PDS parents and other constituents, who show their kindness and support of the school in such a multitude of ways. And finally, I will miss a remarkable Board of Trustees that is visionary, strategic and courageous while fiercely committed to the mission of the school.

PDS is, I believe, in a very strong position, with a curriculum carefully aligned with vital skills necessary for boys to thrive and lead in today’s world, with a program that teaches boys what it means to be a godly man, with an incredible faculty and administrative team, with over $20 million in recent enhancements to the school, and with strong enrollment and finances. Knowing of this strength and the committed and the fabulous team and leaders in place gives me confidence that the school’s greatest days remain ahead of it. And it gives me a peace that I can embark upon a new journey to which I believe that God is calling the Burns family and me.

The grief and sadness that Sarah and I are feeling is tempered somewhat by knowing that we have another year at PDS and in Memphis before we journey eastward back to our hometown and families in Chattanooga. For that year, I pledge to continue my best efforts on behalf of PDS, for there is much important work to be done. Beyond that, though, Sarah and I and our three children hope to savor that year with friends we love in a school family we love in a city we love.

Though we will be residing in a new city, PDS and Memphis will remain in our hearts and prayers forever. It’s where our children were born and baptized, where we’ve formed the closest friendships of our lives, where I’ve had the incredible and humbling privilege of serving as headmaster of a school I love with a passion that I have a hard time expressing.

Finally, I want to thank you personally for the many kind and supportive ways that you have walked alongside me during the recent months as this transition emerged as a possibility and then, earlier this month, as an official opportunity. Your graciousness, prayers and support have been powerful and stunning…but consistent with everything I have experienced in my 13 years so far at PDS.

I will miss and love and remember PDS deeply…and forever.



Lee Burns


PDS Board of Trustees Chairman Don Batchelor's Response Letter


June 28, 2013


Mr. Lee Burns


Presbyterian Day School

4025 Poplar Avenue

Memphis, TN 38111


Dear Lee,

First of all, let me extend my sincerest congratulations for the honor bestowed on you by the Board of Trustees at McCallie. We wish you the best when you take over the leadership of that fine school in the summer of 2014. Knowing your family’s rich tradition passed down from your grandfather and father, I am not surprised that the leadership at McCallie sees you as one of their most successful alumni and an outstanding future Headmaster.

To say that we will miss you would be a gross understatement. There is not enough time for me to recount the many outstanding accomplishments made under your thirteen years leading Presbyterian Day School. Our school, community and indeed educators from all over the world have benefitted from your fine example, dedication, focus and intellect.

You typify what Jim Collins calls “a Level 5 leader.” Your genuinely humble manner accompanied by a complete mastery of people, history and the most recent developments in education are a powerful combination of gifts that have served to make PDS one of the leading educational institutions in the country. Your influence has been felt from Argentina to Norway, from Hawaii to the Pentagon and even the United Nations.

When you could not find discipleship material worthy of the maturity and excellence you wanted for PDS sixth graders, you wrote Flight Plan. When our facilities needed a significant upgrade, you successfully led the largest capital campaign in the history of the school during the worst economy in seventy years.

When you arrived, we did not have a list of alumni. Now the alumni association is thriving, with a list of honorees that equals any school in the country.

The improvements, creativity, and advancement educationally are equally as impressive. Year after year we witness boys performing academically well above what you would expect based on their innate abilities.

Approximately one thousand boys have crossed the front of the sanctuary to shake your hand, receive their diplomas and eight letters from you to be opened at important milestones in their life…when they get married, have their first child, experience great loss, retire, and more. As impactful as those are, their experience of being known, nurtured and loved by you will continue to shape them for the rest of their lives.

You, Sarah, Betsy, Arthur, and Preston will be deeply missed. Your leadership both at the school, at Second Presbyterian Church, in the Memphis community, and nationally and internationally will continue to bear fruit for generations to come. As one trustee said recently, “It’s unthinkable to consider that Lee will not be in front of the school greeting the boys.” I agree!

I have the honor of saying what I know thousands of PDS students, alumni, trustees, faculty, parents and grandparents would say if they had the opportunity… “well done, good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!” (Matthew 25:23)

I look forward to serving with you this next school year and then, please go with our love, prayers and deepest affection.

Most of all, I will miss you as a friend and brother in Christ.


With thankfulness to our Lord for your service to PDS,


Don Batchelor ‘66

Chairman, PDS Board of Trustees

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Presbyterian Day School (PDS) is a private, Christian preschool and elementary school serving 500 boys from 2-years-old through 6th grade.

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