1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Speaker: Joanne Andruscavage, Director of Accreditation, SAIS
Are you a team member responsible for administering your school’s upcoming accreditation process? This workshop includes a review of the guidebook and offers the opportunity to ask questions in an informal setting. Separate registration required (register here).
Speaker: Ross Peters, Managing Partner, EXPLO Elevate
The challenges facing boards and heads are becoming ever more complex.
Every decision regarding strategy can feel (and sometimes is) existential. That said, a healthy board/head relationship creates powerful opportunities not only to survive the myriad issues schools face (think: political divides, financial model strain, and faculty retention), but also to flourish within them and critically move beyond them.
Most importantly, however, nurturing healthy human relationships, aspiring to ideal governance practice, and acting clearly and courageously in difficult moments sets a school up to create anti-fragile strategy rather than simply what are too often disposable strategic plans.
We will discuss key concepts including:
Separate registration required (register here).
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Join colleagues for networking and roundtable discussions on school trends and leadership. Bring questions for the group.
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Registration / Exhibit & Sponsor Booths Open
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Speaker: Mike Flanagan, CEO, Mastery Transcript Consortium
Division Level: Middle, Upper
Not long ago, the path to “the good life” for independent school graduates was clear: study hard, go to the best college you can, and be rewarded with a good career. What does it mean for the value proposition of our schools when the world seems to be moving out of focus, and when our learners’ paths become “blurred” by our rapidly changing world? What is the profile of a “strong applicant” for selective colleges these days? When does the process of applying to college start to impinge on thriving in college? When our youngest learners graduate 10 years from now, how will their post-secondary education begin to resemble work, and how will their careers continue their education? What types of learning experiences and credentials will be available to them that don’t even exist today?
For the past five years, the Mastery Transcript Consortium has been exploring these questions. A network of over 400 schools–public and private, rural and urban, big and small – MTC schools are testing new school models, and building digital competency-based credentials, to span these worlds of K-12, college, and career. In this keynote, discover a set of “lenses” that have emerged from this work, and that you can use in your strategic planning for our increasingly blurred world.
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
7:00 AM – 6:30 PM
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
8:00 AM – 6:30 PM
Exhibit & Sponsor Booths Open
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Speaker: Reggie Ford, Author
Division Level: All
In this keynote address, you will learn what school leaders need to know about the mental health of their students, specifically Black Americans, and how schools can create environments for their students that lead to success and resilience. You will come away with a new understanding of PTSD (Perseverance Through Severe Dysfunction) and how it underlines the darkness of mental health illnesses and behaviors that impact young Black men and have plagued Black Americans for generations. You will learn how to turn pain into peace. This uplifting message shows that by realizing, accepting, and treating mental health with grace, kindness, and appreciation of the backgrounds of those needing support, we can reduce the significant impact of PTSD and other mental conditions on not just Black, but all people.
10:30 AM – 11:00 AM
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Speakers: Natalie Skinner, Senior Vice President, and Bob Weston, Senior Vice President, CCS Fundraising
Heads of school and advancement professionals alike are spending more time focusing on cultivation of significant philanthropic requests, but requesting and closing a major gift requires skill, practice, and a lot of groundwork. Before a donor is asked for a gift, they must be properly cultivated. This session will discuss how to move prospects within your pipeline and bring prospects closer to your school through a series of strategic steps. We will review the full process, including preparation, the opening conversation, making the case, the gift request, handling responses, and ongoing stewardship.
In this breakout session, the speaker uses his own traumatic experiences to inform his call to action. You will learn about the intergenerational impact of unaddressed mental health issues, showing how the power of a familial network can help or severely harm an individual’s battle with mental health illnesses. We will discuss how the trauma of society creates situations of mental health issues and behaviors that hold back so many. The speaker will share that there is room for hope, and how his own experiences of overcoming so many hardships and difficulties offer a path for others to follow. School leaders will leave this session with an understanding of mental health and tangible takeaways to help their students and families needing support.
Speaker: Jennifer Carroll, Attorney, Fisher Phillips
The biggest headache facing schools today are the unrealistic demands of the “pushy parent” and the “out of control student.” Unfortunately, many schools find today’s parents difficult to deal with. Whether it is a disagreement about a child’s grade, bullying allegation, accommodation request, or behaviors relating to a child custody matter, school administrators and teachers spend substantial time managing today’s parent. The challenge today is to ensure the relationship remains respectful and professional, and that the school maintains control. When a parent threatens suit, will the school prevail? It depends if the school followed guidelines of “fundamental fairness” before making decisions. What do the courts assess in determining whether the school had legal justification to expel? What steps should the school take to ensure that its decisions will be upheld? This program will use case studies to address legal and practical ways schools can position themselves in managing these relationships.
Learn steps to maintain control while dealing with pushy parents
Obtain an understanding of your school’s legal responsibilities and duties when it comes to investigations and discipline
Learn practical tools to be used in conducting investigations of student and parent misconduct and determining what discipline, if any
Speaker: Dave Michelman, Principal, Michelman Consulting
Are your regular leadership team meetings engaging and productive or a necessary evil? These meetings can become great when your team members share a common goal and depend on each other’s strengths.
In this session, you will learn how to transform your school’s teams from quality individuals working in their areas to interdependent teams with shared motivation and common goals. You will learn how to create a true team mindset and create the kind of team that will really move your school forward.
The session will start with the philosophy of great teamwork and then provide you with concrete approaches to metamorphize your team and practical tips to keep your team on track.
The most powerful tool any leader has is a team that is at its best. Make your teams the best.
Speakers: Carolyn Chandler, Partner, and Rick Melvoin, Managing Partner, Strategic School Leadership
Having a successful school head has never been more important than during these recent tumultuous years. Yet, the average tenure for an independent school head – less than six years – makes it clear that many of our schools have a problem. What can schools, and particularly boards, do to help heads thrive?
One way boards can do more – a way too often overlooked – is to provide helpful assessment of the head. But how can boards best do this? The purpose of this workshop is to explore different current practices. What works? What doesn’t? What kind of feedback do heads need and what do they get? In particular, what can help the head grow? How can boards move away from assessment as a cursory or even sometimes punitive exercise toward a more in-depth and meaningful means of leadership development for the evolving head of school?
Through this interactive workshop we will explore a variety of processes and tools designed for more strategic, purposeful assessment. Working from a growth mindset, the board/head partnership will develop in mutually respectful ways – and, most importantly, more heads will thrive.
Participants will learn:
Speaker: Brendan Schneider, Founder and CEO, SchneiderB Media
You have a great school, but you need more students. You’ve tried everything to get more people to inquire, but you’re not getting the results you want. In this presentation, we will explain how to use inbound marketing to get the results you want while offering a path to get started using inbound marketing at your school.
Speaker: Tim Green, Athletics Consultant, Southern Teachers
Athletics are complex and of vital importance to a school, so it is imperative that the head of school and athletic director are on the same page. Explore the results of a study of over 50 independent school athletic directors examining the most important things athletic directors want their heads of school to know.
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
LUNCH: SAIS President’s Address, Distinguished Service Award, NAIS Update
2:00 PM – 2:30 PM
2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
Speakers: James Riley, Data Scientist, Forward Dataworks, and Derrick Willard, Head of School, Augusta Preparatory School
Using Augusta Preparatory School as a case study, participants in this session will view heat maps and other graphics that were used to make strategic marketing pivots to increase enrollment, expand diversity in the student body, and raise awareness of specific scholarship opportunities. Discover how to:
Participants will learn to:
Speaker: Rob Evans, Clinical and Organizational Psychologist
Long before COVID, parents were becoming more challenging to work with—more anxious about their children, more consumerist in their approach to the school. Several years of COVID, coupled with a toxic political environment, have magnified these challenges. Drawing on the book Hopes and Fears: Working with Today’s Independent School Parents, this session will offer practical ways teachers and administrators can hold their ground, manage difficult interactions, and strengthen their relationships with parents.
Speakers: Ryan Cook, Upper School Director, Greensboro Day School, and Letitia Sowers, Dean of Student Life, Charleston Collegiate School
Division Level: Middle & Upper School
The pace of change in education is frantic and that challenge has been further fueled by the impacts of the pandemic. The content, configuration, and culture of programs available to students are key mechanisms for delivering on the promise to prepare students for a life without limits. An evolving landscape requires an evolving curriculum.
In 2019, Charleston Collegiate School (CCS) undertook a fundamental review of the middle and upper school learner journey in an attempt to answer the following essential question: how effective is our curriculum in preparing students for success?
To begin answering this question, the following considerations were key:
With a finite number of guided learning hours in a school week, leaders face tough decisions about how learning time is best invested. CCS decided to elevate the importance of less-traditional programs by placing a greater emphasis on success skills, character learning, and cultural wellness.
Join this session to learn about CCS’s experience as they recalibrated their curriculum mix in pursuit of mission aligned programs and culture.
Speaker: Nina Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO, Authentic Connections
The relationship between student mental health and academic achievement is well documented, but the case for focus on educator and parent well-being is less frequently discussed. Schools that promote the well-being of the entire community gain important benefits.
In this session, the benefits of taking a proactive, evidence-based approach to supporting community well-being will be explained. Results from surveys administered to over 55,000 students, 12,000 educators, and 3,000 parents/guardians will be explored to help participants understand the current state of well-being in independent schools and the factors most linked with mental health. The link between mental health and parent/educator satisfaction will also be discussed and effective strategies that school communities have used to support well-being will be outlined. Attendees will leave with a clear understanding of the benefits of attending to community mental health and strategies they can implement within their own communities.
Speakers: Leonard Kupersmith, High School Principal, First Baptist School of Charleston, and David Padilla, Head of School, Christ Church Episcopal School
Head of school transitions can be disjointed and disruptive affairs. Especially when a long-serving head departs, the entire community—students, faculty and staff, parents, alumni, and the board—often finds itself unsure of how best to adapt to new leadership. Schools are infamously resistant to change, and “the way we do things” is a powerful force. Everyone in the community has to unlearn certain things while trying to figure out what the new head is all about. All of this can feel destabilizing.
But head of school transitions do not have to be this complicated. When the departure is planned in advance, both the board of trustees and the schools involved have a unique opportunity to take a proactive approach to ensure a smooth passing of the torch. If schools are intentional, the incoming head can gradually be introduced to the community, get to know the faculty and leadership team, establish a foundation with the board, and carefully plan the departure from his or her current school. Likewise, the outgoing head of school has the chance to forge a relationship with his or her successor, to catalogue the lessons learned over years of service, and to bid farewell to the place where he or she has made a mark.
In this session, a current head of school and his predecessor will frame their respective experiences of the transition in leadership at Christ Church Episcopal School (SC). The deliberate approach to succession planning taken by CCES allowed for a smooth transition in the summer of 2020 which even the pandemic could not undermine.
Speakers: Laura Fiveash, Executive Director, Spring Valley School, and Lorrie Jackson, Educational Sales Consultant, Finalsite
Finalsite has spent 20 years helping schools with their marketing strategy. Times (and technology) have changed, but there’s one thing that will always be true: mistakes happen. Perhaps your paid ads are going to the wrong audience or maybe your landing pages don’t have forms on them. Sound familiar? Let’s dig into 10 common mistakes and learn how to avoid them. At the same time, you can fill your funnel, improve your conversion rates, and save time and money.
Look through each stage of their funnel to find the reasons they lose right-fit families in the process
Find new ways to market their school and increase conversions, inquiries, and applications
Learn best practices they can quickly and easily implement
3:45 PM – 4:15 PM
4:15 PM – 5:30 PM
Speakers: Jim Bush, President, Winkler Group, and Nate Morrow, Head of School, Christ Presbyterian Academy
Division Level: Upper (9-12)
In addition to funding new buildings, a capital campaign can boost enrollment and create tremendous energy on campus. This session explores how a campaign transformed Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA) in Nashville.
CPA’s 2018 $18 million campaign funded a new performing arts center, built a new college-style central quad, and created a welcoming new entrance for current and prospective students. CPA’s campaign also led to tremendous growth in the annual fund and soaring enrollment. Today, donors are asking “what’s next” and ready to be part of CPA’s next campaign for new athletic facilities.
In this session, participants will explore the practical realities of a campaign, including the four benchmarks that predict campaign success, when to engage an architect, how to involve key stakeholders, and staffing necessary to support a campaign. Attendees will learn customized strategies they can put into place today to increase the likelihood of campaign success tomorrow.
Speaker: Allen Broyles, Managing Director, Organizational Learning, Mehta Cognition
The work schools do to improve their viability and sustainability ultimately centers on the human need for belonging. Schools attract families and employees based on how connected they feel to their value proposition. They retain them depending on how connected community members continue to feel over time. Students’ learning success depends on them feeling accepted for who they are as a person and as a learner. And of course, efforts to create more diverse, inclusive, and just communities is about nurturing belonging across identity and experience, and allowing each person to show up as their authentic self.
This session for school leaders will unpack the neuroscience of what happens in our brains as adults and children when we feel a sense of belonging, and what happens when we don’t. More importantly, participants will learn how to apply that knowledge to create stronger bonds between their community members and their institutions. Current trends and research-based strategies will be discussed to improve employee attraction and retention, parent and student engagement, DEIB efforts, and best-practice learning approaches.
Speaker: Christina Lewellen, Executive Director, ATLIS
Division Level: All
All school leaders—especially heads and trustees—have become chief technology leaders at independent schools in the last two years. In a pandemic-affected world, it’s critical to make sure administrators are asking the right technology-specific questions to make well-informed decisions. This straight-to-the-point session will give attendees a primer on the status of today’s tech in independent schools and a list of the critical questions they should ask their technology team to ensure the relevance and safety of their communities. This session will provide attendees with a to-the-point list of questions they must be asking to ensure student privacy, cyber safety, and technological relevance. We’ll explore the biggest risks facing schools today and what administrators and faculty can do to ensure safety for the entire community.
Speakers: Meredyth Cole, Head of School, Lovett School, and Jane Hulbert, Founder, The Jane Group
School leaders are facing crises with more frequency and new challenges. Schools are adjusting their crisis communications plans to include anonymous attacks on teachers and school leaders; false claims about curricular initiatives; student social media activity, and mental health. We will look at preparation strategies, messaging, and the critical first steps to take, be it a full-blown crisis or a very bad day that has the potential to escalate. We will share the inside-out approach when communicating with the community and the importance of landing the communications right the first time. Mini case studies based on real events will be shared and participants will learn the importance of creating a crisis ready culture.
Speaker: Shelly Peters, Principal, CRANE
When we ask school leaders about their goals for the strategic planning process, they often begin by telling us what they don’t want: a handsomely formatted document in a binder that, once completed, sleeps quietly on a shelf in the head’s office for five to seven years.
For a better return on their time and effort, we ask school communities to focus not just on the plan as a static end goal, but also on the process of planning itself. Used to its fullest, this experience can be an extraordinary opportunity for schools to excavate and articulate organizational principles and priorities, examine them in the light of our rapidly changing world, and build renewed, committed consensus around them. These shared values and foundational missions can certainly guide us as we plot the pillars of a trustworthy, even transformative strategic plan. But more importantly, they become the guiding lights that help a school navigate, now and far into the future—keeping you moving confidently forward, even when the terrain changes or the timelines shift.
Join this session for a discussion of how the right process can indeed produce a solid strategic plan—and serve as sound preparation for future decision-making in branding, marketing, community building, curricular planning, crisis response, fundraising, and any other situation that requires your community to hold an unshakeable understanding of who you are, what you do, and where you’re headed.
Speaker: Alex Bragg, Upper School Teaching & Learning Specialist, Woodward Academy
It’s no secret that the demand has never been greater to innovate, think creatively, and provide authentic learning experiences for our students. These were already priorities created by a rapidly evolving and global world, but priorities became necessities once we entered unprecedented waters with the global COVID-19 pandemic. Now that we’re slowly returning to a sense of normalcy, we can’t lose sight of the growth and innovation we’ve experienced in our schools. In this session, participants will gain strategies for leading your school through an internal audit identifying trends, core values, and competencies both pre and post-pandemic. We’ll look at how the design thinking process can support this work, and we’ll use academics as our focus area. In this session, learn how to identify the monumental growth that has occurred and how to create a roadmap to sustain our innovation in the days ahead.
Speaker: Romayne Levee, Partner & Director of Education Strategy, Mission Minded
The typical strategic plan is an expected list of operational priorities that, frankly, could have been predicted and written without the protracted process. Too many schools create plans that stop short of being as powerful as they could be, especially when it comes to the kind of program innovation that truly inspires faculty, staff, and families.
In this session, you’ll see an exciting case study that demonstrates how to create a strategic plan that is visionary and inspiring, rather than expected and ho-hum. We’ll teach a new framework that puts student learning outcomes at the center, not school operations.
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategic planning approach, we’ll inspire attendees to set a new bar for their next strategic plan: one that will have a school united in achieving a newly articulated vision.
Learn the benefit of creating a student-outcomes focused strategic plan, rather than one focused on operations, and how this will rally their existing community and prospective families.
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
7:00 AM – 12:30 PM
8:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Sponsor Booths Open
Speaker: Carla Iliescu, Founder, potential
For seven years, leaders across all sectors were asked one question: what is the future of leadership? One answer was overwhelmingly clear: courageous leaders.
Based on the research of Brené Brown and her #1 New York Times bestseller, Dare to Lead™, this empirically based courage-building keynote will focus on developing a collection of four skill sets to help individuals, teams, and organizations move from armored leadership to daring leadership.
This keynote is designed to create the desire to lead as someone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people or processes and has the courage to develop that potential. We will cover the four skill sets of daring leadership:
You will be able to use these courageous leadership concepts to create a leadership culture that will positively impact performance. These skills create unity and collaboration within the team to achieve the school’s purpose. You will gain an understanding of why courageous leadership is critical to your school’s success today and in the future. You will be able to use the tools to lead and perform at your highest potential.
Define courageous leadership
Understand the four skill sets that comprise courageous leadership
Gain tools to lead and perform at their highest level
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Speaker: Penny Abrahams, Consultant & Advancement Department Head, ISM
When enrollment management, marketing communications, and development leaders are on the same page, you take your strategies to the next level.
At ISM, we call this advancement—all school activities that develop, maintain, and reinforce the relationships between your school and its current and prospective families, employees, alumni, friends, and the greater community. Without a strong advancement strategy, your school misses out on opportunities to invite families to apply, re-enroll, and make philanthropic gifts.
How strong is your school’s advancement strategy today and where should you focus your efforts? Join this session to self-evaluate using ISM’s propriety Advancement Assessment. Explore your results and consider a framework for applying what you learn to create an actionable plan that ties back to your strategic initiatives and helps advance your institution’s unique mission.
Understand the role of advancement in independent schools
Discover how a collaborative approach is critical to your school’s enrollment and philanthropy
Assess your school’s advancement program to identify strengths and opportunities
Speaker: Lois Mufuka Martin, Managing Director, Storbeck Search | DSG
Many schools have been affected by the great resignation and are eager to create culture shifts that center equitable and inclusive hiring. However, when hiring authorities (boards, heads of schools, division heads, department heads, teachers, and search committee members) within a school are asked what “equitable and inclusive hiring” looks like within their schools as a practice, answers vary.
The notion of a practice implies consistency fueled by intent and purpose. Schools that take concrete steps to examine their formal and informal culture, through the lens of intent and purpose, can develop equitable and inclusive hiring practices. If you want to understand the role of culture in developing equitable and inclusive, this interactive workshop is for you. Come prepared with clear intent to reevaluate what you understand about culture, belonging, and inclusivity and how the formal and informal beliefs that shape culture affect your hiring practices.
Speakers: John Thorsen, Head of School, Athens Academy, and Debra Wilson, President, SAIS
Session description coming soon!
Speaker: Elizabeth Boyd, Dean of Academics, and Kerry Ann Masoner, Head of Lower School, Charleston Collegiate School
A student’s academic journey is filled with rich experiences that go beyond the reported grades on report cards and transcripts. Students dig deeply into content, yet their growth is rarely captured through traditional measures. In order to drive deeper learning and capture students’ learning journeys, Charleston Collegiate School is capitalizing on the power of digital portfolios, and teachers are using them as tools for authentic assessment and performance assessment. Over time, the digital portfolio tells the story of each student’s learning journey by providing written reflections and artifacts of learning. When students graduate from each division of Charleston Collegiate School, they graduate with a digital learning portfolio that has captured each stage of growth throughout each school year.
During this session, participants will:
Building on the themes of the morning keynote, this workshop will focus on developing the skill of living into your values.
In this engaging and interactive session, you will have the opportunity to identify your values and consider how to use them when you lead. You will create a plan to live these values versus just professing them. You will learn to give feedback in a way that aligns with your values and who you want to be as a leader.
Speaker: Jennifer Bryan, Consulting Psychologist, Re-Set School
Best practices in SAIS member schools include: fostering a love of learning and discovery; working with the whole child; and helping kids understand themselves, others, and their communities. PreK-12 students naturally explore a range of identities, expressions, and roles as they grow, and exploring gender and sexuality is part of this developmental process for all children and adolescents. As our 21st century understanding of human diversity expands, what is the role of a school in helping students navigate this complex terrain?
This interactive session will focus on ways to frame your educational engagement with gender and sexuality. We will identify the values and pedagogical principles that support this work in schools, using case scenarios to explore critical questions about curriculum, practice, programs, and policies. This session is relevant to the work you do in your role every day, whether you are the head of school, a kindergarten assistant, a division director, athletic coach, the admissions counselor, or school psychologist.
12:30 PM – 3:30 PM
SAIS relies on the expertise of heads and senior administrators to serve as accreditation visiting team chairs. Typically, those who attend chair training have served on several teams and been recommended by a visiting team chair. There is no workshop fee for chair training, but new chair registrations will be reviewed before being accepted. Separate registration required (register here).