National Presbyterian School recently played a pivotal role in the founding of the National Association of Presbyterian Schools (NAPS), an organization for educators and board members from Presbyterian independent schools.
NAPS was formed by NPS Head of School Malcolm Lester and former Upper Division Director Ben Ketchum, who currently serves as the Head of School of Riverside Presbyterian Day School in Jacksonville, Florida. Sensing a need for an organization to serve as a network and resource for those from Presbyterian schools, they reached out to school leaders of other Presbyterian schools to introduce themselves and share their vision for a national organization. The response was overwhelmingly positive, as school heads expressed a desire to form and belong to such a consortium.
With interest and enthusiasm from independent school leaders throughout the country, Mr. Lester and Mr. Ketchum coordinated an initial event for the National Association of Presbyterian Schools in March. They hosted an Inaugural Reception at the annual National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference in Atlanta on March 8. After a welcome from NPS Head of School and NAPS founder Malcolm Lester, NPS Chaplain Rev. Jennifer Dunfee offered an opening prayer, after which attendees introduced themselves and shared information about their schools.
Those in attendance included heads of school, administrators, chaplains, teachers, and board chairs from eight different Presbyterian schools in the United States, ranging from preschools to Nursery-6th grade schools like NPS and even K-12 institutions. Moreover, both coeducational and single-gender schools were represented at the reception. The Executive Director and Associate Director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools were also on hand to lend their support to this new Presbyterian school association, and the Director of Global Initiatives from NAIS also attended.
NPS had a hearty contingent at the NAPS event, including four current and former faculty who presented at the NAIS conference earlier that day: Director of Studies Tara Montague, art teacher Sean Nolan, Mr. Ketchum, and former 2nd Grade teacher Laura Krentel. 1st Grade teacher Hannah Bosland was another conference and NAPS reception attendee.
The leadership of National Presbyterian Church was helpful in providing background information on many of the Presbyterian schools and the churches with which some are affiliated. Prior to the NAPS reception, Mr. Lester and Senior Pastor Dr. David A. Renwick met to discuss ideas, and then Mr. Lester and Reverend Dunfee met with Dr. Quinn Fox and Reverend Donna Marsh, Associate Pastors at NPC, who shared historical information about numerous Presbyterian schools and churches. Accordingly, Mr. Lester gave a report and update on NAPS to the NPS-NPC Partnership Committee, and then, later, to the NPS Board of Trustees. All were enthusiastic about the creation of this association and the void it fills in the Presbyterian independent school world.
After starting out with a small list of Presbyterian independent schools, Mr. Lester has now compiled a list of 45 Presbyterian independent schools (including preschools) that have been identified in the United States. The unofficial directory is still growing, as we suspect there are even more Presbyterian schools out there!
Following the successful NAPS debut, Mr. Lester, Mr. Ketchum, and other Presbyterian school leaders are in the process of discussing next steps for the organization. In addition to having NAPS serve as a network for educators and board members to meet and share ideas, challenges, and opportunities from their respective schools, the hope is that the association will one day put on workshops, retreat, seminars, or conferences—perhaps even at NPS and NPC!
The National Association of Presbyterian Schools has a Twitter "handle" - @presbyschools - so please feel free to follow NAPS to help grow the association and network. NPS is excited about the formation of NAPS and looks forward to helping it move beyond its initial stages to serve those schools and educators within the association.
Looking to join NAPS? Contact Malcolm Lester.