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Grant Lichtman is an educator, author, researcher, and consultant who spent 89 days traveling around the United States to study innovation, excellence and relevance at schools.
Through his visits to over 60 of the national leading independent schools, he was looking to answer the question:
What does the future of K-12 education look like?
Here is what Lichtman wrote about the customized approach to learning at PDS:
We talk about revolutionary changes and evolutionary changes and sometimes those terms take on the meaning of time: rapid vs tepid. This is not the case in terms of PDS. The changes taking place in the learning environment here are not radically fast; they have been building over a period of years. But what I saw yesterday, while not completely unique, appears to me to be a supremely welcome example of a revolution in American education.
After a second day of touring PDS, Lichtman continued with observations on the Building Boys, Making Men character education program, and more:
My second full day at Presbyterian Day School in Memphis was just as eventful as the first; this mid-sized elementary school continued to surprised me with an array of truly leading edge programs in character education, global awareness, health and fitness, tailored learning in reading, curriculum development, an exceptional virtual social studies program, and more.
PDS is a school that seems to have achieved steady state of comfort with constant change that marks successful innovation. Grant Lichtman
On his third day, Lichtman visited the Early Childhood program, along with a return visit to the Learning Studio:
I spent most of my third day at Presbyterian Day School in the early childhood wing, with a reading group that could be a model for any grade level and the technology group. I also revisited the Learning Studio, the heart of what appears to be a revolutionary method of differentiated learning.
Over 125 alumni, parents, and friends of PDS attended The Mentor Breakfast on Friday, November 16. This annual breakfast, hosted by the PDS Alumni Association, provided guests the opportunity to enjoy breakfast and fellowship and to hear an inspirational message from Geoff Calkins, sports columnist of The Commercial Appeal and PDS 6th grade writing class guest-teacher.
In the Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, Mentor is a friend to Odysseus and trusted advisor to his son, Telemachus. Mentor shares his wisdom with Telemachus, using his own life experience to advise Telemachus on his quests. Thus, the word “mentor” has entered the English language.
At PDS we believe that seeking counsel from mentors is at the root of developing boys in wisdom and stature, helping them become the hero of their own quests.
Calkins stated that everyone has had some type of mentor in his or her life and that most people, when asked, are able to immediately name at least one such mentor. Calkins used examples from his sports experiences as well as mentor references from his PDS 6th grade writing class.
At the conclusion of the message from Calkins, in the spirit of this mentor breakfast, PDS Alumni Michael Faber ’90 and Richard Moore ’91 made a special presentation to recognize and honor their mentor who “has inspired us for the last 20 years”—Dennis Smith, current Director of Operations and Athletics.
Congratulations to Battle Boyd, Class of 2011 for being honored as a 2012 Keeper of the Dream Award Winner. This award recognizes youth who have demonstrated "extraordinary courage, compassion, leadership or service toward others".
While at PDS, Battle was involved in several successful community projects including a local shoe drive where Battle solicited over 300 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls to distribute to the people of Haiti after the country was devastated by an earthquake. He continues to read and mentor to underprivileged children. Battle has also developed a sports uniform drive that will benefit community youth centers and teams in uderprivileged areas of the Mid-South. Keeper of the Dream Awards were given at the 2012 Freedom Award Public Forum.