teachers, coaches,
and mentors

teachers, coaches, and mentors



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PDS boys learn from doing science. We want to encourage PDS boys to be interested in science by providing more time in an interactive science lab. For too long, science instruction consisted mainly of a teacher standing in front of a class reading a book. At PDS, we make science…
Published in Archived News
Friday, December 14, 2012

PDS Spirit Magazine, Winter 2012

The Winter 2012 issue of PDS Spirit is here! Look for the print version in your mailbox over the next several days.In this issue we explore our customized approach to learning, as pioneered by our math program.Preview this and all the other articles in the issue online.Read on to browse…
Published in Archived News
Saturday, July 13, 2013

Visual Arts Teacher

artroomPresbyterian Day School currently seeks a qualified candidate for the position of visual arts teacher.

Download Application

For more information contact:

Susan Droke
Assistant Headmaster for Teaching and Learning (1st-6th)

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Creates and implements a comprehensive visual arts curriculum that not only provides art instruction for boys in grades K-6, but also fosters an appreciation for art and the creative process
  • Works with the administration and other fine arts teachers to develop a vision for the fine arts program at PDS including elective classes, summer programs and after school enrichment classes
  • Keeps abreast of new and emerging art and design educational theories and shares this information with colleagues
  • Teams with classroom teachers in all grade levels to effectively and purposefully integrate art across disciplines
  • Uses strategies and creates lessons that address the unique learning styles of boys
  • Integrates technology for professional and classroom use
  • Displays student art in exhibits both on campus and throughout various venues in the community
  • Develops a plan of professional growth and development that fosters life-long learning
  • Communicates effectively with colleagues and parents
  • Promotes a positive, supportive, and collaborative school culture

Skills and Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have the following experiences, background and skills:

  • Appreciates and models the distinctly Christian mission of PDS
  • Holds a bachelor’s degree in art education, art or a related field; master’s degree preferred
  • Demonstrates a strong commitment to art education as well as a proficiency in a variety of media including painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, woodworking and design
  • Possesses a deep understanding of and commitment to teaching elementary age students
  • Possesses strong leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills
  • Works as a team player; is comfortable with on-going improvement and change
Published in About PDS

Debbie Todd 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 her teaching career as a teacher of four and five-year-old kindergarten students; however, the next twenty years of her teaching career was spent teaching first grade at Hutchison School, an independent all girls’ school in Memphis.  As an administrator at Hutchison School, Debbie served as the Head of Early Childhood for three years, supervising Pre-Kindergarten through second grade, and two years supervising Senior Kindergarten through Fourth Grade before joining the administrative team at PDS in 2005.

At PDS, Debbie was instrumental in the development of the Child Development Center, a nursery for infants and toddlers of faculty and staff, as well as a teacher apprentice program designed to mentor inexperienced, beginning teachers. She guided the expansion of the PDS Early Childhood program to include a Pre-Kindergarten class for three-year-olds, which has grown from two to four class offerings.  Most recently, Debbie assisted with the development and implementation of an expanded world languages program designed to teach Mandarin to early childhood students. She assisted with the design of a new Early Childhood center, the second such facility with which she has been involved.  Debbie attended both the Principal’s Institute and Project Zero at Harvard and currently manages professional development for teachers and a teacher-mentoring program.

Debbie is actively involved in Christ United Methodist Church, where she currently serves on the Administrative Board, facilitates a fall/winter women’s Bible study, and serves as Sunday School vice president.  She is a member of the start-up School Board of a newly forming urban Christian school designed to serve bright but underprivileged students living in inner city Memphis (scheduled to open Fall 2010).

Debbie enjoys reading, quilting, and spending time with friends and family.

Email Debbie Isom

Published in Administrator Bios

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 this time, he served as director of the family life center at First Assembly of God Church.

Over the years Mark’s professional development has included Project Zero at Harvard, Leading Today’s Changing Middle School, the National Association of Independent School Conference, and many others. He has also attended numerous coaching clinics, including: Alabama, Penn State, Nebraska, and Indiana to name a few.

Mark was awarded the Most Valuable Teacher Award while teaching at First Assembly and earned coach of the year honors in 2000. Mark enjoys spending time with his family, playing golf, and reading. Mark is married to Amy and they have one daughter. They are members of Hope Presbyterian.

Contact Mark Fruitt

Published in Administrator Bios

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, Georgia, working first with the General Accounting Office that reports directly to Congress and subsequently with the firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. She transferred to Memphis in 1984 and continued her career with PricewaterhouseCoopers. She has also held leadership positions with Banking Consultants of America and AccuShip as their Chief Financial Officer.

Jill enjoys painting, mosaics, gardening, reading, hiking and spending time with her family.  She and her husband Mason are active members of Second Presbyterian Church and are the parents of Candice and Christian.

Contact Jill Kauffman

Published in Administrator Bios

Melissa Smith serves as Chief Information Officer of Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving boys from 2-years to 6th grade in Memphis, Tennessee.

Contact Melissa Smith

Published in Administrator Bios

Cheryl is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She attended the University of Memphis. In 2008, she became Director of Administrative Support, coordinating logistical details throughout the school. She is the primary support for Headmaster, Steve Hancock. 

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 the Board of Trustees and the Martin Institute. Prior to starting at PDS, she was the co-owner of Fox Ridge Pet Resort boarding and grooming kennel. She is married to Ed Burkart and has two daughters. Mrs. Burkart enjoys reading, cooking, entertaining, traveling and attending sports events with her husband.

Contact Cheryl Burkart

Published in Administrator Bios
Tuesday, July 16, 2013



The heart and soul of Presbyterian Day School is the faculty and staff. They are the individuals who teach, inspire, nurture, correct, create, encourage, and model. They pray with and for their students, offer hugs and happygrams, and pour out their hearts for their boys.

Looking for a PDS faculty member?

Faculty Directory

Full of nurture and love, PDS teachers also bring professionalism, immense talent, high standards, and creativity to the school. Over 60% of the teachers and academic administrators have advanced degrees. They are a good balance of seasoned, veteran teachers and younger teachers more recently trained in their graduate schools. A growing number of the faculty and staff, now numbering 17, are men.

Professional Development at PDS
The faculty all share a passion for their calling to work at PDS, and they are all immersed in a school that insists on their on-going professional development. “I have been amazed at the school’s commitment to our professional development,” says 2nd grade teacher Sharon McCall, now in her 22nd year at PDS. “As a faculty, we have attended conferences and workshops all over the country and visited some of the country’s leading independent schools. The faculty culture here is one of continual growth and commitment to educational research and best practices.”

“We invest very aggressively in the on-going training of our teachers,” says Headmaster Steve Hancock. “Whether through summer grants, conferences, consultants, reading, visits to schools, or our committees and task forces, we spend a lot of time and energy carefully reflecting on and designing what we do. Our teachers attend workshops, seminars, and conferences around the country. As we talk to our colleagues at other schools, they are amazed and envious of our commitment to professional development.”

Teachers Instructed at Harvard's Project Zero
During the summer of 2010, Debbie Isom, Early Childhood Head, joined 12 PDS teachers in attending Harvard’s Project Zero, bringing to over 85% the percentage of PDS teachers having attended this world-renowned institute. Project Zero focuses on five areas: teaching for understanding, multiple intelligences, critical and creative thinking, assessment of learning, and learning in and through the arts. It is a fast-paced and intense program of plenary sessions, mini courses, and study groups where researchers shared their most current findings with educators from twenty-five countries and thirty-one states. In 2014, Presbyterian Day School hosted the Project Zero Perspectives Confernce.

Though salaries are very competitive, teachers don’t come to PDS to get rich. “They come because they believe in our mission, because of the love and support of their colleagues, and because they are treated as professionals and stimulated and supported in their on-going growth,” says Elementary Principal Mark Fruitt.

“I love being at a school that cares so much about its teachers and their happiness and growth.” Sandy Kilgore, Pre-Kindergarten teacher

Incentive-Based Compensation
Each year, every teacher sets a professional development goal and has compensation tied to it. “Though we are very proud of our tradition at PDS, we know that we can’t teach exactly how we did a generation ago,” says 6th-grade teacher Jean Nabers, a 28-year PDS veteran who created her own social studies curriculum with internet resources instead of the textbook she used to use. “Boys love this approach that asks them to be more active researchers, learners, and constructers of meaning. The laptops we give them open up a whole new way of teaching and learning.”


Spiritual Growth
As hard as the teachers work, PDS is not all about curriculum and educational research. Last summer, the faculty and staff all read The Global Achievement Gap, The Prodigal God, and Ephesians, as well as watched 11 videos. One of the school’s institutional goals is for each employee to grow spiritually. Every other year, all employees go on a two-day, overnight retreat. “It’s wonderful to be a part of a school that is so thoughtful about building community,” says Early Childhood Head Debbie Isom. “This is an incredible place to work.” There is even a faculty nursery.

“I feel so blessed to be a part of a community of professionals who are committed to continuing their growth in our field,” says Shari Caruthers, a Junior Kindergarten teacher. “I feel that I have grown tremendously in my teaching abilities and love of children because of the support and mentoring that I have received at PDS. I am forever grateful for the opportunities that I have had because of the school’s commitment to excellence in all areas.”

Published in About PDS
Malcolm Sharp, PDS Science Teacher from 1977-1983Please join us as we recognize Mr. John M. Tully, Sr. and Mr. Malcolm S. Sharp at the dedication of the Tully-Sharp Science Lab at Presbyterian Day School. The dedication will take place on Tuesday, August 28 at 10:00 am. The Tully-Sharp Science Lab…
Published in Archived News
Page 2 of 160
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4025 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111• 901-842-4600 Contact Us



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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.

With our mission of striving to glorify God by developing boys in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man, we take a holistic approach to education, nurturing the heart, soul, mind, and body of each boy.