A. Lee Burns III has been selected as headmaster at McCallie School, effective summer 2014.
The announcement was made by the board of trustees and with the unanimous recommendation of the Headmaster Search Committee.
The upcoming school year will be Burns’s 14th as headmaster of Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, a pre-K through sixth-grade all-boys school of more than 600 students on a 29-acre campus.
Dr. Kirk Walker Jr. will lead McCallie through the 2013-14 school year, his 15th as McCallie’s headmaster.
Burns is a third-generation alumnus of McCallie. His grandfather, “Major” Arthur Lee Burns (class of 1920), served McCallie students from 1925 to 1972 as a teacher, foreign language chair, dean of students and associate headmaster.
As a student at McCallie, Burns achieved at the highest levels academically and was elected to numerous key student leadership organizations including the Senate, the school’s honor council, and as president of Keo-Kio, the school’s senior leadership organization.
He was also a standout school tennis player and earned state and national tennis recognition. After graduating cum laude from Dartmouth College, he began his professional career as an educator working in the McCallie Admission Office prior to earning his master’s in educational administration from Harvard University.
Burns understands the benefits and power of an all-boys educational environment and has spent his career in the service of all-boys schools. Prior to his appointment at PDS, he served as a teacher, coach and administrator at Christ School, an all-boys boarding high school in North Carolina. He recently co-wrote “Flight Plan,” a book about the journey from boyhood to manhood that is a source of instruction and encouragement for boys, their parents and other adults who work with boys.
His accomplishments and status as a leader in the independent school field are recognized nationwide. Burns currently serves as president of the Elementary School Heads Association, a group of some 250 heads of K-6 and K-8 independent schools across the country. He is a member of the Country Day School Headmasters Association and the Visionary Heads Group.
He served as a task force member to help the National Association of Independent Schools develop “Principles of Good Practice for Middle School Education” and has been a regular presenter at an impressive list of national conferences.
Burns makes academics and teachers a priority. He serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence in Memphis, an institute which provides professional development for public and independent schools. PDS and the institute have recently partnered with the Harvard Graduate School of Education to host the “Project Zero” teacher training program in 2014.
Search members include Linc Eldredge and Jessica Cockrell from the search consulting firm Brigham Hill Consultancy, and six members of the Headmaster Search Committee, which includes chair Hacker Caldwell, 1966; Hal Daughdrill, 1973, Houston Hunt, 1976; Kincaid Mills, 1988; Carter Newbold, 1984; and Jim Ruffin, 1980.
Burns and his wife, Sarah, have three children, Betsy (10), Arthur (9) and Preston (3).