Doors, Disney, & Harvard:
The Priceless Value of a PDS Education
My Fellow PDS Friends…
and My Fellow PDS Investors,
arlier this fall, as our 6th graders were on their way to a class meeting, I was holding the door for one of the homerooms, and nearly every single one of them paused, looked me in the eye and said thank you. Their manners delighted me, and they reminded me of the importance of saying thank you.
The Annual Report is an opportunity for PDS to say thank you. Your support, partnerships, volunteerism and philanthropic support bring us joy and encouragement; they renew and strengthen us; and, most importantly, they make a difference in the education, development and lives of PDS boys.
We strive to give our boys an education that is relevant to the world of today and tomorrow. It is an education that will prepare them not simply for excellence at their future schools and careers in a rapidly changing world, but it will equip them to be better men—as leaders, husbands and fathers—by giving them a godly vision of manhood anchored in the Christian faith. We are educating them during the most formative years of their lives. Their faith, character, values, love of learning, intellectual curiosity, study habits, and worldview are largely formed during these nine years at PDS. How do we calculate the value of these years?
How do we measure the value of an investment in a boy’s heart or soul? How do we quantify the value of changing the trajectory of a boy’s life? How do we ascribe value to giving a boy the intellectual tools he needs to excel academically, and to assure that his achievements meet or exceed his abilities and potential? How do we calculate the value of a boy, every day, feeling known, nurtured and loved? How do we measure the value of a boy’s salvation? How do we quantify the value on his gaining a vision of what it means to be a man?
While it’s hard to calculate the value of those things, we can and do measure some other things, like how remarkably well our boys at all grade levels are performing relative to their private school peers around the country. Consider:
Our boys are meeting and exceeding their predicted potential, and they are outperforming their peers in the toughest comparison group in the country.
- Our graduates are outperforming their peers at our country’s leading independent schools on 90% of all categories, while matching them on the other 10%.
- Our 6th graders have an average reading level of a 9th grader.
- Our boys’ achievement scores in all grades consistently exceed their ability/reasoning scores in all subject areas by an average of 12-20%.
They are also thriving after they graduate from PDS. They are earning a disproportionate number of academic honors and recognition at MUS and St. George’s. Almost 50% of our graduates earned a place on the MUS Honor Roll last year. They are continuing to excel as scholars and leaders. Why do our boys do so well at PDS? Why do they overachieve? Why do they excel in their future schools?
- Because they have incredible teachers at PDS.
- Because we’ve sent 17 teachers and administrators to Harvard the last two years.
- Because we’ve brought to PDS some of the best consultants and minds on teaching, learning, boys and the 21st century.
- Because we’ve got five reading specialists.
- Because we have SmartBoards in all our classrooms and 3 technology coaches to work with teachers.
- Because we’ve hired teachers with advanced degrees.
- Because we have great resources in the science lab.
- Because we fund teacher requests for the best instructional resources, textbooks and the like.
I could go on.
The point is this. Our output is as good as our input. If we want the best learning, we need the best teachers and resources. And that’s costly…and not possible based solely on tuition. And that’s where the Annual Fund makes a difference.
Recently, Mark Fruitt, our Upper School Head, came to me with a request to send several of our Upper School teachers to a national math conference. He came in my office as I was responding to an email from our Finance Committee about trimming our professional development budget. I want them to go. But the Finance Committee and I need to balance the budget.
As we consider professional development requests for this year, requests for curricular resources, requests for music equipment, requests for athletic equipment, and the like, it is the annual fund that makes the difference between yes and no. It makes a huge difference to the boys of PDS.
For the many of you who made gifts to PDS last year, please allow this report and recognition to convey our gratitude. I hope your investments in PDS bring you as much fulfillment as do the ones that Sarah and I make. If you have not invested in PDS lately or before, I invite your support. Your gifts make a great school even better. They will make this city better. They will make the next generation better.
What a joy it is to be a part of this warm, loving and fun community. One of our boys said earlier this fall that PDS is better than Disneyworld and the beach. I agree.
We are all so blessed to be a part of the PDS community, and on behalf of 617 boys, I thank you for your investments that open their doors, enhance their learning, and offer them the priceless values of a PDS education.
A. Lee Burns III