Get to know: PCDS Director of Admissions, Patrick McHonett

Patrick McHonett (submitted photo)

Patrick McHonett (submitted photo)

Name: Patrick McHonett

School: Phoenix Country Day School

Why you chose to work in the district:  I first learned about PCDS while I worked in college admissions at Claremont McKenna College (CA).  I visited high schools around the country, recruiting students, and reading their applications, including all of the Valley high schools.

PCDS quickly became my favorite place to visit because the kids were incredibly academic, but also well-rounded.  They were fun and anything but the cookie-cutter type of prep school kids I met elsewhere in the country.  So, when an opportunity came up to come work at PCDS, I jumped at it— the community here is amazing!

What I like most about what I do:  As Director of Admissions, I love working with Valley families as they’re searching out the best fit for their kids’ education. Phoenix has a ton of great educational options available, from public, to charter, to religiously-affiliated schools, and so on.  There’s no such thing as a “bad school,” but perhaps just a poor fit between student/family and school.

At PCDS, we’re focusing on bringing in good, smart kids who will engage in our dynamic community.  To be able to support the school’s mission by bringing in great kids is exciting for me and my colleagues.

Where did you come from:  I’m a Valley native!  I was born here in Phoenix, attended OLPH in Scottsdale and later Brophy for high school.  I love this city— it’s the biggest small town ever.

I did my undergrad at Claremont McKenna where I played football, and started my career in education working in CMC’s admissions office and coaching on its football team.  Since returning to Phoenix almost ten years ago, I earned my Master’s from ASU and am proud to raise my daughter with my incredible wife in this town.

If I had picked a different occupation, it might have been:  A writer.

What I’m looking forward to the most this school year:  The PCDS Open House (11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8)— it’s our biggest admissions event each year.  Campus looks beautiful, our incredible faculty and students are on full display, and prospective families are invited to learn more about the school.  It’s a great event showcasing our PCDS pride.

My interests and hobbies:  Sports, avid Cardinals fan, cooking, writing, and playing with my family.

The best and/or worst time in my life:  The birth of my daughter, Charlotte (2/13/13).  I’m so proud of my wife, Jessica, and the family we’ve created.  Now, chasing around a toddler and playing with her is the most fun I’ve ever had.

The trait(s) I admire in others: Honesty.

My advice to today’s youth:  Be yourself and love  who you are.  Being a kid is tough, with tons of external pressures, while still trying to figure out who you are and what you’re about.  Look inward first and learn to love what it is that makes you different— whether you’re big or small, loud or quiet, athletic or clumsy, you’re still the only version of you this world has, so embrace it.

One thing I want parents to know about me:  I’m on your side.  Admissions at PCDS is challenging, because it is selective, and we don’t have enough spaces for every qualified applicant. But, we’re not exclusive— we want to enroll a wide variety of students from broad backgrounds or experiences.

That’s part of the reason why we have  nearly-$2 million financial aid budget, so that every family can consider PCDS, regardless of their ability to pay the tuition.

And, sometimes, we’re not the best fit for every student or family applying.  But, if we enter every conversation with the student’s best interests in mind, then we can move forward through tough conversations if the fit is not the best or celebrate the times when there’s a perfect match between student, family, and school.

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