Message from Brad Shelley
July 8, 2019
Dear Pembroke Hill Community,
Greetings! I am humbled and excited to serve as Pembroke Hill’s new head of school. My family’s journey to join this great community began in April 2018, and we are so pleased to finally call Kansas City home. For 15 months, my children counted down the days every day until we moved, literally. Although they were generally excited about switching schools and moving to a new city, there were times when Candace and I knew they were anxious. I will always remember one day last spring after receiving our mail and seeing two letters, one addressed to my son and the other to my youngest daughter. Inside each note card, a fellow PHS lower schooler wrote to them and told them how excited they were to meet them and how much they were going to enjoy school. This small act of kindness meant the world to them and it further confirmed our excitement about joining Pembroke Hill.
Candace and I knew we wanted to be a part of the Pembroke Hill community last May after we spent two days on campus. From an early conversation with then Search Committee chair and current Board president Anne Dema, and former Board president Don Montague, I was inspired by the school’s mission and its commitment to students. This was not only important to me as an educator, but also as a parent. As I engaged in conversations with different groups, it became quickly apparent that a Pembroke Hill education is transformational. I believe that the best independent schools have educational programs that challenge and support students in a variety of disciplines. Equally important, great schools have a culture where every student is known, and there is an emphasis on developing and graduating good people. Pembroke Hill believes in this philosophy and embodies these qualities.
During 2018-19, I was fortunate to visit Kansas City and PHS on a number of occasions. While on campus, I listened and learned about what makes Pembroke Hill special. In my conversations with Steve Bellis, faculty and staff, Trustees, parents and alumni, it became clear that the school is grounded in its values of respect, compassion, scholarship and integrity. I found faculty who are passionate about what they teach and who love their students; parents who connect and support the mission of the school; students who are eager to learn and who are kind and driven; a Board that has gone above and beyond for the benefit of the faculty and students; and alumni who care deeply about the future of their alma mater. Steve has done a terrific job of bringing these values to life every day and in every classroom. The soul of Pembroke Hill is alive and well, and I feel very fortunate to be joining the school at this time in its history.
On my first visit to campus, I had the privilege of visiting a fifth grade class and then later with 10 upper school students. This was the highlight of my day and reminded me of why I got into this profession 18 years ago. I was thoroughly impressed with the fifth graders...they were energetic, respectful, inquisitive, and they told me exactly why the Royals and Chiefs were better teams than the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens. They were right in both cases!
I found the upper school students to be remarkably curious, and they asked really good questions. There were two common themes from our conversation...how would I connect with students and how quickly would I change certain aspects of the school. I am the type of person who enjoys building and establishing relationships with all people in the school community, but most importantly with its students. I know the demands on my schedule are going to be great, but I am going to be present, intentional and make every effort to be in classrooms, at play and musical performances, sporting events and academic competitions. I want students to know me, and I need to know them.
The Board of Trustees has charged me in my first year to get to know the community and to understand Pembroke Hill. Through these conversations and being an active listener, I will gain a more comprehensive perspective about our opportunities and challenges, which will help us develop our strategic mindset for years to come.
I am excited to finally be on campus, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead Pembroke Hill. We are not counting down the days any longer...Kansas City is our home, and PHS is our new family. I am truly looking forward to meeting each and every one of you!
Here is to a great year!
Head of School