Athletic director Don Earnest, who joined Pembroke Hill in 1999, has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
In his position, Don has overseen the growth of the athletic department and its offerings to student athletes. During his tenure, the school has added a strength and conditioning coach, full-time trainer and introduced girls and boys lacrosse along with dance. Additionally the department assumed the responsibility for middle school athletics. Currently, Don manages a sports program that includes 66 teams, 87 coaches in 23 interscholastic sports.
“For 19 years, Don has led our athletic department - and performed one of the toughest jobs in education - with professionalism, grace and integrity,” said Mike Hill, upper school principal. “I have always appreciated that he views coaches as teachers first and their work as an extension of the classroom. Don’s ability to identify, evaluate and mentor coaches is second to none.”
Don said, “I have been very fortunate to be a part of the Pembroke Hill community the last 19 years. The main goal I had as a lifelong educator and leader of athletic programs was to create an environment for success - success being that all student-athletes absorb the peace of mind that comes with the self-satisfaction of knowing that they did their best and that they became the best they were capable of being.”
Steve Bellis, head of school said, “For a small, independent school like us, Don’s depth of knowledge and the number of strong personal relationships he has throughout the region have been invaluable.
The dedication, commitment and loyalty he has shown to our school, coaches and athletes is extraordinary and inspiring.” He continued, “On a personal level, Don possesses a kind, gracious and generous spirit that will be greatly missed by all of us, especially me.”
While Don is officially retiring this year, he has generously agreed to provide assistance next year on an as-needed basis to support the next athletic director and to ensure a smooth transition for the athletic department.
Don is completing his 46th year in education. Prior to joining PHS, Don was athletic director for the Turner School District and The Barstow School as well as assistant athletic director for the Harrisonville School District. He also, for many years, coached basketball, both at the high school and college level, including serving as assistant men’s basketball coach at Avila University and Ft. Scott Community College.
A certified athletic administrator, Don was the Kansas Area III Athletic Director of the Year in 1994. He also served on the board of the Kansas Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association from 1989 to 1999 and was treasurer from 1995 to 1999. In 2001, he received a 25-year service award from the Missouri Interscholastic Administrators Association.
In his retirement, Don and his wife, Jeanne, will enjoy spending more time with their family of three sons and four grandchildren.
We congratulate Don on an exceptional career and wish him well in his retirement.