Meet Our Head of School

What Sets Prairie Apart?

In K-12 education today, most schools are designed to teach students how to answer standardized test questions, produced by for-profit companies, to ensure that every child reaches a minimum score.

The Prairie School is designed to teach students how to ask questions, find or create the answers to those questions, and share those answers across a range of mediums. We believe that our mission’s focus on the whole child and the development of their character and creativity is the best way to prepare our students to be leaders in a world where change is a constant and the competition is fierce. As Karl Fisch noted, our students are preparing for jobs that do not yet exist, that will use technologies that have not been invented, to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet. That is a daunting task, but our students are truly prepared to meet these unknown challenges. Here they learn to communicate effectively, creatively approach and solve problems, evaluate evidence, understand bias, and, most importantly, to ask questions. Many answers are out there, but it is tomorrow’s leaders that will frame the inquiry and we are preparing our students to be those leaders.

Our selective admissions program allows us to focus on motivated, above-average students with supportive families who want to do more than just reach proficiency. Our college preparatory program is a balance of tried and true methods of instruction, with bold and new pedagogical innovations. All of our students are challenged and supported every day, to grow and improve, by a nationally recruited and experienced faculty. All of our seniors are accepted to selective four-year colleges and universities where they thrive.

Our students thrive in college and as adults because they are highly skilled, self-motivated learners who know how to succeed both individually and as a part of diverse teams. They know how to take action, build relationships, collaborate and communicate. Here, they have learned a myriad of important interpersonal and technical skills within the context of pursuing academic, personal, and collaborative excellence. At The Prairie School we also set aside school time for community service and to study current events to promote active citizenship.

For over 50 years, excellence has permeated everything we do and I hope that you enjoy exploring our website. You will find valuable insights about our program and how we prepare our students to succeed at selective colleges and as adults by focusing on each student growing and thriving. You will also get a glimpse of what makes our school truly exceptional: the quality of the people who work here and the families who enroll their children. However, to truly see what makes this school an exceptional place for talented, creative, and motivated students you need to visit in person. I look forward to meeting your family.

Fast Facts

Dr. Nat Coffman
Head of School & President

Over nearly three decades in education, Dr. Coffman has served as a master teacher and leader at several of the finest schools in the country, including: York Country Day School (PA), Bishop School (CA), FXW School (IL), The Latin School (IL), Fenwick High School (IL) and La Lumiere School (IN).


“As a school leader it is my duty to: Build a community where students and teachers feel a sense of ownership and responsibility and are empowered to pursue excellence as learners and leaders.” (Read More …)

From the Dr.'s Desk

The “Nat Chat” Podcast

Welcome to “Nat Chat”! Tune in throughout the school year to join Prairie’s Head of School, Dr. Nat Coffman, as he sits down with some of Prairie’s most prolific scholars, artists, athletes, and leaders.

Episode 2: Dr. Rebecca “Becky” Wheeler

Join Dr. Coffman as he gets to know Upper School Humanities Teacher Dr. Rebecca “Becky” Wheeler. One may think an English teacher spends all her spare time reading and writing — but Dr. Wheeler’s varied interests may surprise you. In addition to a love for language and literature that drove her to her chosen subject, Wheeler is an avid music fan, gardener, and outdoorswoman, among many other things.

Episode 1: Jamie Breiwick

For our premiere episode, Nat sits down with Instrumental Music Teacher, Jamie Breiwick. Teaching at TPS is just one of the many gigs for this musical jack-of-all-trades: he’s a trumpeter, composer, bandleader, recording artist, designer…you name it, he probably does it. Jamie’s latest project, Kase, is a “hip-hop jazz collaboration tour de force” — he divulges details about how the group came together and how their style has evolved. In his “spare” time, Jamie also runs his own recording label and graphic design studio.

Want to learn more after you listen? Check out Jamie’s official website.

Check back each month for a new episode featuring another member of our school community!