The Phoenix Country Day School story began in 1960, when a group of educational visionaries, led by Franz and Mae Sue Talley, agreed to found a nonsectarian, nonprofit, college preparatory day school based on the traditional east coast private school model. On September 12, 1961, Phoenix Country Day School opened its doors to 93 students in third through ninth grades with a faculty and staff of fourteen. The following year, a half-day kindergarten and first and second grades were added; grades ten through twelve were added in successive years to graduate the first senior class in 1965. By the 1969-1970 academic year, enrollment was at 386.
PCDS weathered its early years through the commitment of trustees and faculty who recognized the need for a school of its kind in the Valley. The School quickly expanded its group of loyal community members committed to its survival and success. In the ’70s, facilities were expanded to accommodate the growing student body and the development of competitive sports teams. PCDS’s graduating class sizes measured in the teens and twenties, and the Upper School program offered core graduation requirements and courses and electives that reflected faculty interests and abilities.
Having purchased the second half of the school’s 40 acres in 1968, PCDS was able in 1982 to build a new Upper School complex and a gymnasium for indoor sports on the east side of the Cudia Wash, and a dedicated music facility on the west side of campus. The bridge built to join the Lower and Middle Schools with the Upper School seemed to be a symbol of the final step in reaching the founding vision—achievement of a stable future.
By 1996, enrollment reached 700 and demonstrated the promise of continued growth. Between 1993 and 2008, PCDS replaced or renovated practically every classroom on campus. Every division saw major construction and renewal, including the addition of state-of-the-art science labs and an outdoor experimental science garden, visual art and performance facilities, and technology facilities. The entire Lower School was rebuilt, and an early childhood learning center was added to provide space scaled to fit the needs of the youngest students. This part of campus, too, also acquired its own library, science center, art studio, and children’s garden.
Today, PCDS continues to offer a strong and balanced educational program: rigorous academics, fascinating electives, many choices in fine arts, four classical and modern languages, and interscholastic athletics. Further, PCDS is heavily invested in developing students as individuals of good character and contributors to the local, national, and global community. As a result of their engagement with our community, both in and out of the classroom, our graduates are especially prepared for success at the top colleges and universities; our alumni consistently achieve leadership positions and continue to have a massive impact in their chosen careers and the world around them.
Throughout its 50-plus years of growth and achievement, three core tenets remain as true today at PCDS as they did in those early days after its founding. This is a school that prides itself on its small classes, exceptional teachers, and proven results. All students and graduates of Phoenix Country Day School have benefitted from small, personalized classroom environments in which they have personally known their peers and their teachers, and have never felt like a face in the crowd. PCDS has continuously recruited, developed, and retained the best faculty in the state, supporting teachers who genuinely impact students’ lives for the better and bring out the best in each student. Lastly, over time, PCDS’s results speak for themselves—graduates succeeding at top colleges, alumni who are leaders in their respective fields, and an overarching understanding that PCDS students are best prepared to face the ever-changing world around them.