Our DNA is Yours – PDS @ 75!
October 11, 2018
Have you ever thought about what makes the Primary Day legacy so compelling 75 years on? What breathes life into this unique school year after year? Of course, we have a distinct brand; a mission statement; a vision, brochures, posters, and a website. They all help get the message out, but they aren’t enough. Not even close. There’s one ingredient that’s greater and more important than all of those combined. It’s you…our parents.
Parents sustain our legacy through their passionate commitment to this unique school. Today’s Primary Day exists through the vociferous, enthusiastic participation and contribution of generations of parents whose active commitment and pronounced support sustains the heritage we share from one generation to the next. Our DNA is yours!
The enrollment team orchestrates and leads our annual enrollment charge. That said, we depend on parents to participate in an orchestral performance that can be heard throughout greater Washington. Through your community connections, you turnkey both your personal experience and your heartfelt emotions in order to energize the next class of parents. The result: nearly 85% of new families come to PDS through parent referrals. That’s powerful in itself, but even more so when you learn that most schools aspire to 75%!
As PDS embarks on another great year, the enrollment team – and now you know that team includes you – will be assembling the next class of PDS families whose community and educational values mirror your own. That’s what makes the Primary Day legacy so powerful, so sustaining. Thank you.
The Power of Agile Thinking
September 27, 2018
The most successful schools recognize the generational value of families and students—from the first inquiry to the planned gift of a proud alumnus. As families traverse the route of admission to enrollment and next-school placement and as their children emerge as alumni who will refer others to the School and engage with the community for a lifetime, the power of a Primary Day education is affirmed.
As an independent school, we have always enjoyed the freedom to explore innovative advancement approaches, respond to community needs with precision and design flexible learning environments to respond to changing demographics. We work hard to keep the thinking nimble and the focus sharp.
Our mission is distinct and our vision for the future, impassioned. To insure a forward trajectory, we have spent considerable time in recent months researching best practices relative to a new concept in independent schools, that of Mission Integration. Enabled by the professional gifts and talents of existing staff and inspired by the true collaboration that characterizes our work together, we have reconfigured both our Advancement and Enrollment teams to sustain our strong culture and brand supported by shared decision making. Traditional job descriptions have been replaced with a more strategic leadership of mission-based initiatives. We have fashioned a Mission Integration team at Primary Day.
In collaboration with the Board of Trustees and the faculty, the team will employ a cohesive approach to advancing the School’s mission. By implementing best practices and, in anticipation of a board-adopted Strategic Plan, the stage will be set for our vibrant future. Members of the Mission Integration team include the following colleagues: the Assistant to the Head of School, the Assistant Director of Enrollment Management, the Business Manager, the Director of Advancement and the Director of Enrollment Management. Agile thinkers all!
As always, I welcome your thoughts and your questions about our thinking.
Magna-Tiles and Rubber Ducks
September 17, 2018
Managed institutional growth is born of community engagement. The power of candid conversations, collaborative planning, and passionate involvement cannot be overstated. Taken together with an unwavering dedication to a clear mission, the very best of schools thrive and serve generations of students. This is who we are.
Primary Day was not your typical ‘start-up.’ Washington, the beleaguered capital city of a nation at war, was an inauspicious environment to inaugurate a new institution. Our tenacious, passionate, and committed founders were not deterred. In the years before the doors opened in the fall of 1944, three courageous women invested much of their time in developing the Phonovisual method, and they were convinced of its efficacy. They had engaged in challenging discussions, collaborated with university-level educational experts and were headstrong in their planning for what would become The Primary Day School. This is the heritage that is ours today.
However, the school’s future wasn’t assured by its founders alone, but by the faculty and the parents of the children taught in those early classrooms. Candid conversations, active listening, strong partnerships, and mutual trust enabled institutional growth in very real ways. Our move to River Road was made possible by a group of intrepid parents and benefactors who demonstrated an unwavering confidence in a school that had produced successful young learners from the very start.
Our enduring success is a product of that same reliance upon and trust in our relationships, and by collaborations that ignite a synergy of ideas, opportunities, and actions. For decades, my predecessors have collaborated with this community, sustaining its changing needs and drawing from its evolving capacity to contribute to its future. With traditions as touchstones, and as steadfast caretakers of a remarkable legacy, they fortified an already firm foundation. I am privileged to follow their lead.
As we prepare to celebrate our seventy-fifth year and chart our future, active listening, sincere engagement, and forthright dialogue will be essential elements for success. The PDS legacy was forged in a turbulent era and today we are challenged to envision our future in likewise unsettled times. Together, our collective resilience will prevail.
So, what of Magna-Tiles and rubber ducks? My challenge to each member of our community is to be as courageous as our founders, as unabashedly philanthropic as those first parents, and as committed as our earliest colleagues. Help us “get our ducks in a row” for the future! If you have a great idea — or a suggestion for growth, improvement, or change — grab a duck from the bowl in the front office, bring it to me with your thinking and together we’ll add your idea to the growing flush of ducks we’ve already collected. Interested in an authentic, engaging conversation about our future? My door is always open, the latchkey is out, and there is a pile of Magna-Tiles on the table to help us assemble a vision for PDS. Together.