Head of School Message

From the Desk of Pat Walker

June 18, 2021

As I consider the success of our most recent school year, I recognize that much of that is thanks in large part to you, our families, for your cooperation and partnership as we worked to achieve our common goal of offering on-campus learning to all students. As a result, our students retained, and advanced, their academic and social skills without experiencing the marked learning loss that many are facing nationally. 
At Jacksonville Country Day School, we are moving forward.

If you are on campus this summer, you will see a lot of activity (and not just with our Summer Camp) including upgrades to playgrounds and outdoor learning spaces as well as updates to a new Welcome Center and the Fine Arts Center auditorium. Our coordinated master plan for outdoor spaces started last year with the installation of an obstacle course for older students on the field which was enthusiastically received. 
After a redesign and installation of new equipment this summer, we will be able to offer a new outdoor space for our youngest students which will include both a new playground near the Green Circle and an upgraded LearningScape near the early learning classrooms.

We are also updating our Welcome Center, both the look and the location! With the temporary relocation of the Welcome Center to the Kelly Fine Arts Center lobby during the pandemic, we quickly realized that this space is a more ideal location for parent and visitor access to the campus, provides a safer visitor entry, and offers a true welcoming “front door” to our school. This shift also allows us to provide a dedicated Student Center in the school’s main building devoted to student needs. 

The Student Center includes our nurse’s office and our Infirmary. We were so pleased to have Keri Calvert, RN join us last summer and bring her expertise and training as a registered nurse to our school, particularly during this concerning health year. Once again, we owe our thanks to you, our parents, who supported the safety and health protocols put in place for the well-being of our school community by working with our nurse and keeping students who were ill at home. 

We are excited to be able to announce improvements to our Fine Arts Center auditorium, which was opened in 2001. Thanks to a generous gift from Bill and Brenda Schilling, P’18, P’22, we are now able to make upgrades to our audio, visual, and lighting for this space. Carol and Joseph Thompsen, who have attended performances for their three grandchildren in this space for more than ten years, have also contributed a significant gift toward this project. Work is being completed this summer to install the equipment that will provide enhanced sound and lighting for musical, dance, and drama productions, as well as schoolwide assemblies and Parents’ Association events. 

Due to the growing popularity of the band, drumline, and instrument programs, we are relocating instrument access for practice and performances. We also received a gift of a baby grand piano from Dennis and Julie Smith, P’08 which we are placing in our dining room. This provides additional opportunities for both students and adults to perform before an audience.

As we look ahead, planning is under way for the new school year. A host of opportunities lie ahead. Naturally, we will once again seek the most up-to-date medical advice and meet with our Medical Advisory Team as we plan.

We hope to offer the following, at the appropriate times:
  • Class events on campus
  • Performances on campus
  • Parents’ Association meetings
  • In-person parent-teacher conferences
  • Grandparents’ Days
  • and more...
We have learned so much this year. Virtual offerings worked well for many of our JCDS parents and grandparents, and we will continue to offer opportunities that allow for virtual access to some events so that many can attend.
It is with great joy and humility that we, the faculty and staff, serve the Jacksonville Country Day School community. My heart is full from the true partnership and work we accomplished together during the past 16 months. My sincere gratitude to each family for your trust during a most challenging time. We are looking forward to a bright future for our students, our parents, and our faculty.  

Head of School

About Pat

Head of School Pat Walker has more than 35 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 Bachelor of Arts 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).