January 1, 2020

As we gathered our four grandsons for dinner, I knew we had succeeded in transforming their dinnertime habits. They were staying with us to help their mom, our daughter, in the final stretch of their dad’s 6-month Air Force deployment. One of the three-year-olds was calling me, “Dubby, look where my napkin is: on my lap!” His twin begged for my attention. “Who made the dinner, you or papa? I need to say thank you.” And, their ever-wise big brother, all of six years old, said, “Remember, papa wants it calm and quiet during dinner. Only talk one at a time.” Our summer lessons on polite dining with our four grandsons were indeed transformative. 

It took some time but by the end of their 6-week visit Jackson, Garrett, and Brooks knew what we expected. Their 1-year-old brother will require more training at a later date. Through patience and lots of repetition, we felt we had “caused an important and lasting change in someone or something,” which is the Webster’s definition of transformative. Transformative education was clearly being practiced and was working. 

At JCDS, we have high expectations. Education is about helping students to transform into the best versions of themselves so that they are more successful and happy in school and life. As educators, we must, therefore, provide the experiences that transform students.

In the Hispanic Wax Museum, a capstone project for 6th grade, students transform into renowned Hispanics and give a speech in that language to the JCDS community. Some of these students have been learning Spanish at JCDS since they were three years old, and it shows. 

In addition to students being transformed, so has our main building. After a six month building project that affected many aspects of school life, The Center for Learning, Innovation, and Collaboration is now fully operational. The Center includes four integrated learning areas: our Library including the Wong Family Treehouse, Production Studio, Science Lab, and Design Lab. We are certain the impact of having the environment will afford our students even greater opportunities to learn, innovate and collaborate. 

New spaces also give children, and teachers, the ability to change their perspectives (an important aspect of creativity) as they move from space to space. This exciting and flexible new space will allow students to:
  • Solve problems independently
  • Move easily to and from and within different learning spaces
  • Collaborate on solving issues before them
  • Create presentations
  • Build models
  • Research projects 
  • Enjoy learning
The new Dining Room is helping us continue to grow our students’ social skills. With areas designed to offer an appealing setting for children and adults to easily come together, enjoy nutritious food, and appreciate the opportunity to socialize, our goal is to use lunchtime as both a time for fun with friends and a time to strengthen social learning experiences. Conducive spaces allow us to continue to practice the good character that defines JCDS students. 
By careful analysis of research-based educational practices mixed with a creative approach, we continue to provide greater transformative opportunities for our students. As students graduate from JCDS, our hope is that we have truly “caused important and lasting changes.” 

Thank you to our parents, students, and faculty for their patience during this transformation of our campus.

Pat Walker
Head of School

Head of School Pat Walker has 36 years of experience as an educator, including seven years teaching 1st grade at JCDS. She also served as Director of Admissions for thirteen years prior to being named Head of School in 2014.

Ms. Walker holds a BA in Education from Wake Forest University. She and her husband, James, are parents of twins who are alums of JCDS. Ms. Walker is passionate about character education and serving the children in her care.

She is active in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS), for which she has served on several FCIS evaluation committees, and the Elementary School Heads Association (ESHA).
Located In Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Country Day School is a private school for Pre-K 3 through 6th grade. JCDS prepares students for a healthy and productive lifetime of intellectual exploration, character development, and social responsibility.