A History of FPDS
Over 50 Years of Excellence in Christian Education
First Presbyterian Day School (FPDS) was created in 1965 after the United States Supreme Court took the Bible and prayer out of public schools in two rulings in 1962 and 1963. In June of 1963, First Presbyterian Church officers formed a committee to establish a school located at the church campus where prayer and Bible reading could continue for children. After two years of surveys, studies, and prayer, the officers voted unanimously to move ahead with chartering the school “to preserve succeeding generations strong in the faith of our fathers.”During the history of FPDS, there have been only four headmasters, which is a unique experience for private schools – Mr. Shellie Bailey, Mr. Joe Treloar, Mr. Gary Herring, and Mr. Brian Smith. In addition to these headmasters, the school is governed by a 15-member Board of Trustees, elected by the officers of the church. These men and women serve a five-year rotating term, but FPDS has seen very little turnover on the board. This has created institutional stability and a stable environment for the school.
FPDS serves approximately 670 students in grades K3 through sixth with a mission that began in 1965 and continues today. Believing that children are our heritage of the Lord, FPDS strives to plant seeds of Christlikeness in the hearts of children; pursue excellence in academics; and prepare students for future service in God’s kingdom in their homes, churches, and professions.
Since its doors first opened, FPDS has been located on North State Street in the Belhaven neighborhood near downtown Jackson within First Presbyterian Church. Over the years, numerous classrooms have been renovated, including the art room, library and a new state-of-the-art science lab. The “kindergarten house” was torn down in the early 1990s to create room for a safe and fun playground and pavilion. The gymnasium was renovated in 2000, providing updated space for students to play intramural basketball, participate in pep rallies, and attend physical education classes each day. The FPDS summer program, Under the Oaks, launched in 2016 and has seen tremendous growth each year since. In 2017, a K3 and K4 preschool was added to FPDS and was filled within two weeks of announcing the addition. Also in 2017, a Dyslexia Immersion Program began for students in second and third grade, with a student services staff assisting with all grade levels. Also during the tenure of Gary Herring, the school reduced teacher to student ratios, instituted curriculum changes, developed strategic plans, expanded The Company after-school program, and introduced modern technology at every grade level.
FPDS students have developed friendships and celebrated childhood with numerous school traditions, dating back to the first years of the school. Each year at Field Day, students and their parents take off a morning and participate in traditional field day events, such as games, relays, and concessions. Each student in grades kindergarten through fifth grade takes part in a play once a year, and Grandparents’ Day is a festive occasion held every other year for fourth and fifth grades. Class holiday parties and field trips are also exciting times in the life of the school. The school’s only fundraiser, Holiday Potpourri, held annually since 1974, is led by the families of FPDS in conjunction with Crusader Club, the parent/ teacher organization of the school.
FPDS is held in high-standing in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.