At PDS, we have boys during the most formative years of their lives. We don’t quite get the boys from cradle to graduation but our relationships with families and boys can start as young as the toddler years. Our Toddler Time Admission events are led in part by Emily Lequerica, our Assistant Director of Admission. Emily has been with PDS since 2009, she started out in the classroom, and now she serves in the Admission office as well as overseeing the nursery and completing the Department of Education paperwork that keeps our Early Childhood department accredited.
Another way a family may be introduced to our school is via one of our social media channels. They may see a post that is talking about a great classroom experience, maybe it’s duck-hunt math or JK boys dissecting sheep hearts. That’s where Anne-Davis Parks comes in. Anne-Davis joined the school in 2019. She has a title with a bunch of commas in it: Advancement Officer, Alumni, Public Relations & Social Media Coordinator, so she plays a role in multiple Advancement tasks.
One of the first interactions prospective families have with PDS is through the website. After a toddler event or seeing a social media post or ad, they can visit our website to learn more. If you spend a few minutes looking through the website, you’ll gain a new appreciation for just how much information is on it beyond the home page and the news page. Most independent schools pay a company tens of thousands of dollars to design, develop and maintain their site, but since 2003, Winston Baccus, Director of Creative Services, has developed and maintained our website. Winston’s role is basically to oversee anything with a PDS shield on it, along with making sure that what we’re doing as a school gets communicated to our parents.
As a boy grows out of the toddler stage, it’s time for families to begin looking at schools. That’s when Rachel Bishop, our Director of Admission and Enrollment Management comes in. Rachel has been with PDS since 2014. You’ll see Rachel and Emily giving tours, setting up testing, and hosting admission events. They love introducing prospective parents to lots of teachers, so feel free to say hi when you see them in the hall or looking into your classroom.
While the work of admission in a family’s PDS years goes on through the re-enrollment process each year, once a family enrolls one of the first experiences they’ll have is probably the Buddy Party one of the many special events that is coordinated by the next member of our team, Cynthia Cross, Director of Special Events and Parents' Association Liaison. Cynthia has been with PDS since 2008 after having been a PDS mom. She even did the yearbook before Casey Smith took it over.
Cynthia’s interactions and impact on PDS boys and families continues all the way to graduation and even beyond when our boys graduate from high school and they come back to a reception. Whether it’s Grandparents’ Day, Father/Son Dinner, or the Book Fair, Cynthia is coordinating and managing parent volunteers to make it happen.
Moving onward through a boy’s PDS years, families may begin to utilize another program that the Advancement team manages: our summer camp program. The Advancement department has always played a role in communicating about summer and with helping with online registration, but last year we took over the reigns of the program to redevelop and relaunch a full summer of camps, with offerings for all grades every week of the summer.
One of the more complicated processes our department keeps up with is all the data from our entire PDS family. If a family moves to a new house or even gets a new cell phone number or email address. If you’ve ever moved, you’ve probably dealt with organizations that don’t get this right. It’s a complicated process because we have multiple departments in the school that need that information and none of the databases talk to each other. There’s the admission database, the business office database, PowerSchool, the donor database. Kim Bridgforth, our Director of Annual Giving, works with Rachel and Emily to help us keep up-to-date records for all of our students — including not just their parents, but also their grandparents and the thousands of alumni records.
That’s not Kim’s main focus though, her main job is all about raising money to help supplement our budget. The Annual Fund helps us make up the difference between what it costs to run the school and the amount of tuition money that comes in each year. If a boy gets sick or hurt, the Annual Fund helps us pay to have a full-time nurse, pay for security guards, and much more.
Our offices’ fundraising efforts don’t stop there. While you hear much more publicly said about Annual Fund, McKee Humpreys, our Assistant Head of School for Advancement is also working behind the scenes to help in all aspects of Advancement including raising money to support our other programs and projects. Over the last few years, we are averaging over $1 million dollars a year raised through the Annual Fund and other strategic projects.
As you can see from the word cloud below, this only scratches the surface of what the Advancement office does to help advance the mission of the school.