Head of School Search
In August 2019, Steve Hancock announced his intention to step down as headmaster of Presbyterian Day School at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, following six years of service. The Search Committee has engaged a consulting team from The Education Group to lead the search for a new head of school. This page will be updated with news as the search progresses.
Letters to the PDS Community
I am writing to let you know the 2019–2020 school year will be my last at Presbyterian Day School. These words are beyond difficult to write as PDS has been an incredible blessing to my family and me over the past five years. This decision has come from a great deal of prayerful consideration from both Stephanie and myself. I am letting you know at this time to give the school ample opportunity to find the next Headmaster of PDS.
When I first received the call to serve as Headmaster, it was Super Bowl Sunday and the year was 2014. Princeton had just weathered a massive storm that left the surrounding areas without power for several days. As a family, we huddled by the fire and shared the news of a big move to the MidSouth - a place my family had never visited. We knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that God was calling us to Memphis, and I was excited to lead a school that was boldly Christian and committed to the highest of standards.
Together, during these past five years, we have accomplished a great deal. From additional extra-curricular offerings and sports to a revised reading and writing program, our school continues the commitment to excellence. I am thankful for the many Trustees with whom I have served. Collectively they have taught me a great deal, and I appreciate their willingness to listen to my thoughts on the elimination of debt, endowment growth, and limiting tuition increases. While there is still work to be done, I do believe we are on a path that is both sustainable and strong.
The faculty of PDS is the strongest asset of the school. These dedicated professionals love the boys in their collective care. They are not only devoted to seeing the boys grow in wisdom and stature and favor with all, but they are continually working to become better at the art of teaching. These champions of PDS are perpetually learning and striving to become better for the boys they serve. I have never had the opportunity to work with a faculty who believes in the mission of a school so wholeheartedly.
While we do not know what the next chapter in our life will be, we are confident God is in control. He will lead Stephanie and me to the next place where we will be the perfect fit and can humbly serve. For now, there is much work to be done at PDS, and I plan on leading until my last day in July 2020. I am surrounded by a Leadership Team who is devoted to seeing PDS thrive, and we will work alongside the faculty and trustees to prepare for the next leader of PDS.
August 27, 2019
Dear PDS Community
I am writing today to inform you that Steve Hancock has tendered his resignation to the Board of Trustees effective at the end of the current academic year. While we are saddened by the news that the Hancocks will be leaving, we understand Steve’s desire to be closer to his family and are grateful the Hancocks have called Memphis and PDS home these last five years. Please note the attached letter from Steve regarding his resignation. PDS will continue to benefit from Mr. Hancock’s leadership through July 2020.
At his core, Steve is a godly man and a true educator. His steady hand since 2014 has shepherded PDS not only in its pursuit of academic excellence but also to unprecedented financial stability by the elimination of nearly $8 million in outstanding debt. Through Steve’s leadership of our world-class faculty, PDS boys have gained exposure to STEAM learning, robotics, Destination Imagination, and an enhanced reading and writing program. These programs will continue to yield benefits for current and future PDS students in years to come. Outside the classroom, our boys have experienced new extra-curricular activities including band, golf, tennis, track and cross country. All of these new offerings at PDS have come in addition to our uncompromising commitment to the highest levels of academic quality. As evidenced by significant growth in ERB test scores, our school is in the upper echelon of independent schools in the nation. Steve, the faculty and administrative team have positioned PDS well for future success.
The Board of Trustees is ready to meet the challenge of engaging in a thorough search process for our next Headmaster. I have asked board member Michael Stockburger to chair the Search Committee, and processes have already begun to ensure we are fully prepared to embark on a formal national search. Throughout our search process we will seek appropriate input from faculty, staff, parents, and alumni in addition to professional resources from around the country. Only God in His sovereignty knows the exact timing and length of this search. My pledge to you is open communication and regular updates. Our intent is to find the next Headmaster who will continue PDS’s legacy as the premier school for boys in the Mid-South. Please feel free to contact me with any questions along the way. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I thank you for choosing and believing in PDS. We ask you to join us in continued prayer for the search of the next PDS Headmaster.
John D. Alexander
Chairman Board of Trustees
April 3, 2020
Dear PDS Community,
March madness has taken on a new and very sobering definition this year. I hope you and your family are staying healthy, safe and isolated. It should not come as a surprise that the trickle down impact of COVID–19 has reached our search process for PDS’ next headmaster. Given the current mandatory and discretionary constraints on daily life, the search committee has extended our applicant deadline from March 31st to May 31st given that many candidates have been and will continue to be busy supporting their current teams and student populations. I know that you appreciate the circumstances, but I hope you can also appreciate that our decision allows us to keep our eyes on the proverbial prize of finding the best Headmaster for PDS versus adhering to a specific timeline.
When we embarked on the search process, we made the decision to plan for an interim year between Steve’s departure and our new Headmaster’s arrival. With our well-qualified and experienced interim, Cathy Kyle, in place to start later this spring, we have the flexibility to withstand an extended search timeline triggered by factors out of our control. I think what we lose in terms of time we will gain in a more robust and qualified candidate pool. Lastly, it is important to note that neither the search committee nor our consultant partner, The Education Group, believes our adjustment to the process timeline will impact the timing of our new headmaster’s start date (summer 2021).
As a committee, we appreciate your support and trust. Please continue to pray for the leader that God has called to be the next Headmaster of Presbyterian Day School.
February 20, 2020
Dear PDS family,
I hope you are well and that your boys returned from winter break rested and recharged! If you are like me, you are likely reading this on your phone so I will hit the highlights of this search process update first and then will provide a more thorough update below.
- Earlier this month we officially “hit the market” to develop the candidate pool through proactive outreach and numerous, traditional site listings.
- We have posted our position profile on the Search Process page of the PDS website; a significant amount of work went into finalizing this with a big THANK YOU to the many parents, alumni, faculty and staff that provided feedback over the last few months.
- Our applicant deadline is March 31 and we will plan the next stages of the search process following this deadline.
- Thank your PDS teachers, staff and leadership team! These are the people responsible for providing an exceptional and stable experience for your boys during a time of transition.
- Please continue to pray for PDS and the search process!
WHERE WE ARE
I am excited to alert you that earlier this month the Search Committee and our partners at The Education Group officially completed and posted PDS’ position profile seeking the school’s next Headmaster. This document is available on the PDS website and serves as an introduction to the opportunity for potential applicants (it is not an exhaustive summary of the school).
While the position profile plays a key role during this stage of the search process, it is important to note the work that stands behind this document and the overarching purpose this work serves as we seek our next Headmaster. You as a community along with your faculty and staff and your Board of Trustees have invested countless hours in the form of market research, strategic discussion, open forum Q&A sessions, one-on-one conversations and e-mail correspondence. These investments have enabled us to respond to our need of securing the next Headmaster with a well-developed and clear framework for identifying the man that God has called and that we want to lead our school. I cannot thank you enough for your contributions to this process!
WHAT IS NEXT
Our applicant deadline is March 31, which provides ample time to build our applicant pool through proactive outreach, marketing and multiple hiring conferences. Once the application window closes, the Search Committee will be evaluating candidates for participation in the next step of the process, Semi-Finalist interviews.
I would like to specifically call out and brag on the PDS team. It is a true blessing to have such an amazing leadership team, faculty and staff at PDS. In a time of leadership transition, this team continues to provide our boys with an exceptional and stable learning environment. They have gone above-and-beyond in terms of the time and effort they have invested in this process both outside of the classroom and before/after school hours. Please join me in thanking this team as you see them!
Please continue to pray for PDS, the PDS team and the search process. We are eagerly anticipating the next stage of the process and will be providing further updates when appropriate. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Search Committee with your thoughts and questions.
Search Committee Chairman
February 5, 2020
January 17, 2020
Dear PDS Community,
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year holidays and that the transition back to school has gone smoothly! I am excited to announce that earlier this week the Search Committee recommended, and the Board of Trustees unanimously approved PDS’ appointment of Mrs. Cathy Kyle as Interim Headmaster for the 2020–2021 academic year.
Our goal from the beginning was to fill the Interim position with a person who professes faith in Christ, is a consummate professional, has experience with same sex elementary education, and can be a bridge to the arrival of our permanent Headmaster. Many of you will know Cathy from her 27 years at PDS and recognize that she embodies the qualities for which we have been searching. For some, she will be a new face and we are excited for you to meet and get to know her. While at PDS Cathy was a teacher, Chief Information Officer and spent 17 years on the leadership team. She possesses extensive knowledge of what makes PDS special and loves PDS! Please join me in welcoming Cathy back to the PDS team.
While filling the Interim position is not the Search Committee’s primary calling, it is an important position that gives PDS the greatest flexibility to find the best candidate for the permanent Headmaster role. Many thanks to the faculty, staff, and parents who have provided valuable opinions and feedback on what PDS needs most in its next Headmaster via the in person meetings as well as the recent survey. As our search continues, a more detailed update will soon be posted.
The Board of Trustees is confident and excited about what the future holds for PDS. We remain committed to helping PDS proceed with excellence in all we do. Thank you for your trust and your support of our school.
Please reach out with any questions.
On Behalf of the Search Committee,
Michael Stockburger, Chairman
December 16, 2019
Dear PDS community,
I hope your Christmas season is off to a wonderful start! We had a high level of participation at our parent forums with the Education Group team in November. Thank you for working this into your schedule and for the feedback and questions you shared. This information has been helpful to both the TEG team and the search committee.
The next step in gathering your feedback on the headmaster search is a short survey, a link to which can be found below. Similar to the feedback shared in our parent forums, your thoughts and answers to this survey will assist the search committee in developing our position profile for the headmaster position that will be one tool used to attract and engage potential candidates. While the survey will remain open for approximately two weeks, please try to complete this survey prior to the Christmas holiday to avoid any “homework” over the break.
Survey LinkPlease find the link to survey in the email sent on December 16, 2019.
Two points to consider regarding the survey:
Will this survey be anonymous?
Yes, the Education Group will receive all responses and will be reporting the aggregate feedback to the search committee. No name is required on the survey and no individual responses will be shared with the search committee.
Will my feedback to a broadly-distributed web-based survey truly make a difference?
Absolutely. Every individual survey will be reviewed by the TEG team, including all written feedback you provide.
As always, the search committee and the TEG team are here to answer any questions pertaining to the search process. Please do not hesitate to contact us. On behalf of the search committee, thank you for your commitment to and partnership with PDS. We look forward to your feedback and hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
Search Committee Chairman
November 6, 2019
Dear PDS Parents,
On behalf of The Education Group, a national consulting firm specializing in Head of School searches, we are delighted to be partnering with Presbyterian Day School to find your next Headmaster.
Although this will be a lengthy, intensive process, we are eager to begin. We will be visiting Memphis and the campus next week to get early impressions about PDS and the desired characteristics of the next Headmaster. We will be meeting with administrators, faculty, students, and parents as an initial step in developing the most accurate and comprehensive picture of PDS. Our next step will be to develop a school and position profile that will become the chief marketing piece as we build a robust candidate pool.
We will be offering four opportunities for parents to meet with us. At these meetings, we will discuss the search process and all of its steps, the timetable of the search, and our role as consultants. We will also want to hear from you about what qualities you hope will endure and what type of Headmaster you hope will join the PDS community.
The meeting times are listed below. All meetings will be held in the EC Commons.
- Monday, November 11 5:15 pm
- Tuesday, November 12 8:00 am
- Tuesday, November 12 2:00 pm
- Wednesday, November 13 7:20 am
Following our visit, you will each have the opportunity to complete a survey that will allow you to individually and more fully express your thoughts about the search.
We look forward to meeting as many of you as can attend.
Katherine M. Stuart
The Education Group
October 31, 2019
Dear Members of the PDS Community,
On behalf of the PDS Search Committee, I am pleased to report on our progress in the search for our new Headmaster as well as provide you with an overview of the next steps in this process. Following the Board of Trustees’ formation of the Search Committee to lead the process of finding the next Headmaster, we have finalized the Search Committee’s membership to include the following Trustees.
- John Alexander, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (Managing Director, Raymond James)
- Michael Davis (Pastor, Downtown Church)
- Earl Houston II (Shareholder, Martin Tate Morrow & Marston P.C.)
- Susan Patterson (Community Volunteer)
- Michael Stockburger (Senior Vice President, Westchester Group Investment Management)
- Hunter Witherington ’92 (Partner, SSM Partners)
- David Work ’67, Alumni Board Chair
Search Firm Selected
I am also excited to announce that the Search Committee has engaged The Education Group (TEG), a nationally-recognized search firm based in Nashville, to assist it in the search process. TEG was established in 1988 and provides search and executive coaching services specifically to independent schools. After interviewing numerous nationally-recognized search firms, we were impressed by and selected TEG based on its knowledge of PDS and our region, their experience and understanding of single-sex education, and their commitment of three consultants, including the firm’s president, to our search. A brief overview of the TEG team is below and I encourage you to learn more about the firm at www.educationgroup.com.
Overview of The Education Group Team
Dennis Campbell, Dave Davies, and Katherine Moncure Stuart will assist the Search Committee’s work. Dennis served as Headmaster at Woodberry Forest School, an all-boys middle and high school, for seventeen years and is the former Dean of Duke University Divinity School. Dennis is a senior consultant with TEG and has led multiple searches. Dave has served as Head of School at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in California and at Deerfield-Windsor School in Georgia. Dave has led national searches for sixteen senior administrative positions including four Heads of School, chaired the search for executive director of a symphony orchestra, and served on search committees for the Rector of an Episcopal Church and a University President. Katherine is the president of TEG. As a resident of Nashville who is married to a Head of School, she has a great understanding of and appreciation for Tennessee independent schools. As President of TEG, Katherine has been actively involved in both Head of School and senior administrative searches.
The Search Process and Timeline
Dennis, Dave and Katherine will be on campus November 12th and 13th to visit PDS as well as meet with the Board and Search Committee to plan the next steps of the search. Those next steps will include several additional visits to campus by the TEG team over the next few months to assist us in gathering input from all PDS constituencies. Your feedback and participation will be critical to the success of the search process, and I encourage you to take advantage of these future opportunities as they are scheduled. We will use the rest of 2019 to gather information, collect feedback, and determine the profile of the candidates we would like to identify and then expect to begin formal outreach to candidates in January which is the beginning of the typical season for recruiting a Headmaster / Head of School. Given that most candidates will be required to provide a one-year notice to their existing school (a standard practice in the independent school industry), an interim Headmaster may be required for the 2020–2021 school year. The Search Committee has taken this consideration into its broader planning and preparation steps for the full-time Headmaster search. Please be on the lookout for periodic future updates on the search process via e-mail and the PDS website.
The Board is committed to a thorough, communicative, and inclusive process. As such, your constructive feedback and ideas are welcomed throughout our search. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to steward this process on behalf of PDS, its amazing leaders and faculty and the broader PDS community. Thank you for your trust and support.
Search Committee Chairman