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Best Wishes On Your Retirement

Congratulations and best wishes to upper school administrative assistant Marcia Dowling, athletic director Don Earnest and fifth grade teacher Deb Rose on their impending retirements. 

Andrew Mouzin

Congratulations and best wishes to upper school administrative assistant Marcia Dowling, athletic director Don Earnest and fifth grade teacher Deb Rose on their impending retirements. 

Marcia Dowling

After 31 years at Pembroke Hill, Marcia Dowling has announced she will retire at the end of this school year. For most of those years, Marcia was a middle school English teacher and cross country coach. In December 2013, she left her teaching role and became a part-time upper school administrative assistant.

“It was a great transition from teaching to working in the upper school office,” Marcia recently said. “I love being around students, and there is such a buzz in a school that I really enjoy. My current role allowed me to stay connected to students and to PHS.”

Upper school principal Mike Hill said, “Marcia’s friendly smile and positive attitude have been fixtures on the Ward Parkway campus for more than 30 years. She’s one of the first teachers I met when I joined the faculty, and she’s been a great friend ever since.”

He continued, “Marcia’s the embodiment of the Pembroke Hill Promise. She’s a friend to all, loves to learn and understands that strong relationships and great teaching are two of the things that make PHS special.”

Upon joining Pembroke Hill in 1987, Marcia took on the role of seventh and eighth grade English teacher. In 1988, she started the middle school cross country program and became the head varsity coach. Marcia coached middle school cross country from 1988 to 2003 and upper school cross country from 1988 to 1994.

“I had so much fun coaching,” Marcia said. “It is one of the highlights of my time here. There was a real sense of family with the cross country team.” She recalled occasions when parents of her runners pushed her son around in his stroller as she coached her athletes. “That’s just the way it was.” Marcia’s coaching produced exciting results: four teams won state, and four individual runners became state champions.

As for her time in the classroom, Marcia commented on the quality of her students. “They are such enthusiastic learners. I remember how impressed I was at the depth of the discussions we had,” she said. “I really enjoy that age of students because they are still kids with emerging adult curiosity. They are so willing to open their hearts in their writing and try on vocabulary - when they use a bigger word than usual, and aren’t using it completely correctly. I was excited for them because I knew they would eventually grow into that vocabulary.”

Another highlight for Marcia was the celebration of her 25th year at Pembroke Hill when she was inducted into the Faculty and Staff Hall of Fame. “That was so amazing. I will never forget that night. It still gives me goose bumps,” she said.

“I have spent 31 years at Pembroke Hill,” she concluded, “and half of my life experiences have occurred during that time. I have felt so supported here in both the challenging times and in the joyous moments. I will always have a deep connection to this school.”

Don Earnest

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.”

Head of school Steve Bellis 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.


Deb Rose

Fifth grade teacher Deb Rose has announced her plans to retire from Pembroke Hill at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

Lower school principal David D’Ercole said, “It has been a joy to work with her over the past four years. Deb is a master at making every child in her classroom feel cared for and valued. “

Deb said, “I have treasured the opportunity, for over 30 years, to help ignite a spark in students to find a passion for lifelong learning,” Deb said. “Children are all joy for me.I truly love and appreciate all of my students. I have spent my career accepting and encouraging children to become successful young people.”

She continued, “I have made real connections with my students and their families here at Pembroke Hill. In return, they have embraced me, and they have become like my own family.”

Deb joined the lower school four years ago after retiring from the Park Hill School District, following a 26-year career teaching third through sixth grade. She came to PHS as a fifth grade faculty assistant, but took on the role of a lead fifth grade teacher one year later.

While with Park Hill, Deb received numerous awards including the Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International, District Teacher-of-the-Year and was named a Kansas City Crystal Apple Award nominee.

In her retirement, Deb plans to travel with her husband, Jeff, spend time with her extended family, complete her work on a children’s book and become more involved with her church.

Deb will also continue as an adjunct professor for Park University in the education program.