School History

Our founder, F. Alden Shaw was born to Charles Joseph Shaw and Elizabeth Gahring Shaw in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota on December 20, 1885. Mr. Shaw graduated from the prestigious Boston Latin School in 1905 and Harvard College in 1909. He moved to Paris, France and enrolled in the School for Advanced Studies (Ecole des Hautes), and began raising funds and recruiting students to begin his dream of founding a private school for boys. He soon realized that circumstances in Paris made founding a school an unreasonably daunting task; he decided to return to the United States. On the ship back to America, Mr. Shaw recalls an acquaintance raving about the wondrous opportunities in the blossoming American city of Detroit, Michigan and decided to build a school there.
In the spring of 1914, F. Alden Shaw, under the name the Detroit Preparatory School, submitted the following advertisement to the local paper:
"Mr. F. Alden Shaw, A.B. (Harvard 1909), announces that September next, he will open a small school for boys. Having had experience as a teacher in Boston, and as a private tutor in the families of Mr. George Lee of Boston, and Mr. Edwin D. Morgan of New York, he comes to Detroit, where there would seem to be a larger field for him. Referring by permission to Reverend Eugene Rodman Shippin, Mr. D. Stearns of Fredrick Stearns and Company and to Mr. Charles Moore, Security Trust Company, Detroit, Michigan. (For appointments address F. A. Shaw, Care Y.M.C.A., Detroit, Michigan.)"
The legacy of Mr. Shaw is so intrinsically woven into the culture of Detroit Country Day School that, in many ways, the school is still a manifestation of his vision of what a school should be. His emphasis on academic rigor and preparedness for higher education is still eminent in the school today, as is his belief in the benefits cultivating athletics and the arts, as well as traditions of character-building, mutual respect among students and faculty, and embracing social and personal responsibility. As Detroit Country Day School moves toward the future, we do so with confidence in our conviction that these principles are part of the fabric of the school and will continue to guide our path to the future.


Head of School - Mr. Richard Dempsey

Mr. Dempsey began his tenure on July 1, 2020 with over 23 years of experience as an administrator and teacher in both independent day and boarding schools. He was the Associate Head of School for six years at Pomfret School in Pomfret, Connecticut. Prior to his position at Pomfret School, he spent six years at Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, first as Assistant Head of the Upper School/Dean of Students and then for five years as the Head of the Upper School. Mr. Dempsey began his career in education at St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island, where he is also an alumnus. During his 11 years at St. George's, he taught math and science and held administrative positions including Director of Summer Session and Associate Dean of Students. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College and a Master of Education degree from Boston University. He completed the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) Fellowship for Aspiring School Heads.

Portrait picture of new head of school