PDS was founded by Second Presbyterian Church in 1949. This is the school's original crest, designed by Mrs. Jean Calmer, former PDS librarian. This crest was utilized until the late 1970's.
In 1949, Second Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest churches in Memphis, founded PDS at the church’s new location at Poplar Avenue and Goodlett. An introductory statement sent to church members stated, "We believe that this field (Christian education) offers a real challenge to us and through the medium of this weekday kindergarten, we are preparing to try to use this opportunity for the greatest good to these children, their homes, and to the highest glory of God." Pastor A.W. Dick and Mr. Robert Hussey played key leadership roles in the opening of PDS.
35 children—boys and girls—enrolled in kindergarten in 1949. In 1951, the Pentacost-Garrison School for boys closed, and many of those families enrolled their boys at PDS, which thus became a large boys only school serving boys in grades kindergarten through the 9th grade.
In 1955, PDS helped Memphis University School (MUS) reopen by giving MUS our 7th, 8th and 9th grades, as well as our headmaster, Colonel Ross Lynn. Second Presbyterian Church was also instrumental in assisting MUS to reestablish itself. PDS thus became a school for boys in kindergarten through the 6th grade, and PDS and MUS have maintained a close and supportive relationship since then.
Since 1955, PDS has added Junior Kindergarten (1992) and Pre-Kindergarten (2005). The student body has grown to over 630, making PDS one of the largest boys’ elementary schools in the country. Major facility expansions have taken place in 1971, 1992, and 2009.
The curriculum and teaching methodology have changed to assure that PDS continues to prepare boys to be scholars and leaders in a changing world. Despite these changes, PDS has remained true to its founding and mission and maintained its great traditions, which include the Christmas Pageant, the Speech Contest, Yipes Stripes, the Student-Faculty Basketball Game, and Happy-Grams.
Throughout its history, PDS and Second Presbyterian Church have remained close and supportive partners, though they are separate entities, as PDS is an independent school.
Over 3,300 boys (and a few girls from the early years) have graduated from PDS, and they have held a number of leadership positions in Memphis and beyond. Alumni include FedEx founder Fred Smith and Autozone founder J.R. "Pitt" Hyde.