Message from Brad Shelley

Pembroke Hill is truly unique. As head of school, I am so proud of our students and faculty for the extraordinary examples of teaching and learning present at all levels, from early years (age 2 years) through 12th grade.

While we are known for our tradition of academic excellence, the Pembroke Hill experience is much more comprehensive than just preparing students for college, which we do very well as evidenced by our National Merit honorees, average ACT scores, number of students taking Advanced Placement courses, and the many regional and national honors our students earn.

But what I think is even more important than our academic program, is what is at the heart of Pembroke Hill - our commitment to our mission, Together, cultivating the best in each, for the benefit of all. These words define us, inform our work and serve as the foundation for what it means to be Pembroke Hill. It reflects our dedication to developing our students in all areas - ethically, socially, emotionally and academically.

Pembroke Hill was founded in 1984 through the merger of Pembroke-Country Day School for boys (established 1910) and Sunset Hill School for girls (established 1913). Both predecessor schools had a common founder, Vassie James Ward Hill.  

Mrs. Ward was driven by a strong belief that the education of young people is society’s most important act and that great value must be placed on children and their individual capabilities. With this vision, Mrs. Hill set out to establish schools unlike anything Kansas City had ever known. She was successful in her pursuit and today, more than 100 years later, Pembroke Hill is still grounded in her fundamental belief that students learn best by actively participating in a wide variety of experiences.

While Mrs. Hill’s ideals were seen as visionary in 1910, they are as essential to educating today's youth as they were at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Each year, we continue Mrs. Hill’s legacy by focusing on an annual theme. For 2020-21, we selected Building Together.  At no other time in our school's history has this concept been more important than it is now.
Our theme compels us to concentrate on the importance of building together - through enhancing our already dynamic community; keeping our school safe during the COVID-19 pandemic; rededicating ourselves to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and completing an extensive campus construction project.

The Pembroke Hill family is extraordinary, but we are always seeking ways to build an even stronger sense of community. Paramount to this sense of community is welcoming new families, and this year, we were delighted that 177 new students joined Pembroke Hill. Our active Parents Association plays an integral role by encouraging all parents to become involved in the life of the school through their many volunteer opportunities. Pembroke Hill is a much more vibrant school because of our Parents Association and our supportive families, alumni and other friends of the school.

We understand that building community means continuing our work in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Recently, the Board of Trustees established the DEI Advisory Council, whose charge is to promote policies, procedures and initiatives that foster a culture of diversity and inclusion, while providing oversight, and holding us accountable to our community.

Members of the Advisory Council include Trustees, parents, faculty, students and alumni. Additionally, we have partnered with Sophic Solutions, a local consulting firm, to guide us in engaging our community and conducting an equity assessment.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is our priority. We have implemented numerous mitigation strategies including establishing an office of infection control, requiring universal mask use, installing barriers such as plexiglass around all desks and tables, taking temperatures, enhancing HVAC with ionization systems, encouraging social distancing and conducting contract tracing for potential exposures.

We are in the midst of a transformative building program on the Ward Parkway Campus. The project features a new central Lawn, new dining hall, new athletic center, an arts skywalk to connect buildings and renovations to Hall Student Center. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I suggest you drive past the campus on Ward Parkway (5121 State Line Road) and witness for yourself the exciting changes to our physical structures. We are grateful for our many donors who are supporting this $52 million renovation.

I encourage you to learn more about our amazing school by reviewing this website, talking with family or friends who are already a part of our community and contacting our admissions office. During this pandemic, we are re-imagining how we share the true PHS experience with prospective families. Our admissions team is offering virtual open houses and individual tours (after school is dismissed and socially distanced) for individuals interested in Pembroke Hill.

As you become more acquainted with us, I am confident you will better understand the warmth and joy of Pembroke Hill. The feeling is not only palpable, it is who we are at our core!

We look forward to getting to know you and your student.

If I can be of any assistance to you as you explore Pembroke Hill, please don’t hesitate to contact me, bshelley@pembrokehill.org.

Brad Shelley
Head of School

Portrait of Brad Shelley