* Denotes session is being recorded. All attendees will have access to edited recordings about two to three weeks following the conference. The access link will be sent via email.
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Room: Mountain Laurel
Are you in your first two years of a leadership position? Join other “first-time administrators” for networking, connection building, and an introduction to SAIS.
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Registration / Exhibits | LULLWATER FOYER
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Speaker: Raabia Shafi, Founder & CEO, Raabia Shafi Consulting
Division Level: All
Room: Emory Amphitheatre
This experiential keynote address will inspire SAIS leaders to harness their innate power and responsibility in setting the tone for an organizational culture that drives team performance and cultivates belonging.
Recent research shows that 34.5% lower job turnover occurs in organizations with solid workplace cultures due to the intricate connection between happy teams and happy families and students. We’ll consider how these findings relate to SAIS leadership and the current complex challenges facing school leaders, teachers, and the education system.
We’ll distinguish being good at your job from being a good leader, exploring how the primal instinct for humans to follow their leaders further raises the stakes for building intentional, empathetic relationships with our students and their families. Finally, SAIS leaders will reflect on their individual ‘why’ and how we can create sustainable cultures we all want to be a part of.
THIS SESSION WILL BE RECORDED. All attendees will have access to an edited recording of this session about two to three weeks following the conference. The access link will be sent via email.
3:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Break / Exhibits | LULLWATER FOYER
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Room: Salon I
In this breakout session, we will apply practical, introspective exercises to elevate our individual stance on leadership. We’ll clarify intentions, get a pulse on what it feels like to be on the receiving end of your leadership style, and tap into our deep-seated values that ground our decision-making – especially in stressful moments.
We’ll dive into our own take on leadership by exploring the narratives that have either blocked or served us over the years and ultimately choose what we want to carry with us into the future. We’ll then refine the fundamentals driving your personal leadership philosophy so you have a North Star for showing up as a leader you would actually want to follow.
Speaker: Sean Slade, Head of Education, BTS Spark
Division Level: All
Room: Salon IV
Leadership has always been a bit messy, especially in schools, where leaders have always had to navigate ambiguity and complexity. But prior to 2020 much of the messiness was hidden. Based on new research, this interactive session will outline not only the need for “messy leadership” in schools but how our circumstances are requiring it. Leaders who have succeeded during this turbulent time have been those who are able to lean into the uncertainty and lead with humanity. Outlined by the acronym M.E.S.S.Y (multiplying perspective, emotional connection, seizing momentum, sensing the future, your ego) we will highlight how school leaders can utilize the approach to grow themselves, their teams, and their schools.
Speaker: Liza Garonzik, Founder, R.E.A.L. Discussion
Room: Salon III
Track: Student Experience
Discussion is at the heart of everything: democracy, workplaces, relationships – and all great schools. Yet, for today’s students, discussion is hard and scary. The roots of this challenge are myriad and debatable – blame COVID! social media! politics! parents! – but it’s clear that students are struggling to communicate.
R.E.A.L. Discussion is a research-backed program that trains faculty to (re)teach students the discussion skills they need for learning, belonging, and real life. Built for grades 7-10, R.E.A.L. focuses on students whose adolescence has been defined by pandemic, polarity, and mental health crisis. Research documents how a “conversation lab” approach to teaching discussion skills can advance academic skills (MBE), socio-emotional growth (SEL), and a culture of belonging (DEI) — all at once!
Join this session to see findings from action research about the state of discussion instruction from across 35+ schools, consider the impact of a school-wide strategy for intentionally teaching discussion skills, and practice elements of the R.E.A.L. method.
Speaker: Nina Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO, Authentic Connections
Room: Salon II
Creating an evidence-based, schoolwide wellness program has never been more important, as rates of mental health symptoms are on the rise among educators and students alike. Over 70% of faculty and staff surveyed in the last few months of 2021 reported clinically significant levels of burnout. During the same period, rates of anxiety and depression among students surpassed 2019 levels.
To protect the well-being of a generation of students and retain the best educators, independent schools must prioritize mental health and take proactive steps to foster resilience. Join this session to learn what surveys administered to over 50,000 students and 10,000 school personnel tell us about the current state of mental health in independent schools. We will share the factors most linked with well-being nationally plus recommendations on prioritizing mental health in your school community.
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Reception / Exhibits | LULLWATER FOYER
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Dinner | SILVERBELL
7:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Breakfast Buffet | DINING ROOM
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Exhibits | LULLWATER FOYER
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Speakers: Scott Barron, Chief Reinvention Officer and Tammy Barron, President, School Growth
Room: Emory Amphitheatre
Although it seems illusive at times, we spend most of our lives searching for peace – at home and at work. While this may sound like an oxymoron amid the daily challenges school administrators face, finding serenity in leadership is a vital component of our authenticity as educators and is a major contributor to our pursuit of sustainable excellence. Serenity comes from within, and with the right encouragement and support, it can become an integral part of our narrative. In this session we will explore how to find greater joy as school leaders, including key disciplines that will contribute to long-term success.
10:30 AM – 11:00 AM
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Speaker: Leah Nestor, Head of Middle School, The Mount Vernon School
DEI is a universal term used to signal a sector of work in organizations. Each terminology signals a specific focus that is expected when doing this work. Other terms you may hear are globalism, multiculturalism, cultural competency, equity and justice, justice and belonging, etc. In this workshop, we will discuss the meaning and implications of the terminology and review frameworks that support the action that is needed to align this work to your mission, community, and resources.
It’s the living curriculum that makes our mission authentic, and we’ve entered a new era of education leadership where recruiting, hiring, and elevating talent is the top strategic imperative. Having navigated through the global pandemic in the midst of a highly volatile economy, the ability to successfully build a cohesive team of gifted educators will be crucial to the growth plan for every school – and to the career of every head of school and division leader. In this session we’ll share talent strategies to grow the quality and qualities of the school’s most valuable asset.
Track: Student Experience
Reports from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine have concluded that exposure to excessive pressure to achieve is among the top four high-risk environments for an adolescent’s well-being, along with exposure to poverty, trauma, and discrimination. In addition, multiple studies have shown that high-achieving students report clinically significant anxiety and depression at rates above national norms. How do independent schools balance the rigor required by students and families with a focus on positive overall well-being?
This session will discuss the trends among students, faculty, and parents contributing to excessive pressures to succeed. We will explore quantitative and qualitative data from independent school students and faculty to surface common themes regarding pressure to succeed. Finally, we will provide best practices on ways schools and parents can help students feel more grounded and less stressed.
Participants in this session will:
As we focus our attention on coming out of this turbulent year—the social distancing, the learning loss, and especially the mental health and well-being of our students—let’s not forget the effect that the pandemic has had on our teachers and school leaders. A focus on well-being is now core for schools.
Self-care is often cited and is well-intended. However, unless we also direct attention onto group interactions and our systems, it is on its own a flawed approach. This session will outline the Well-Being Pyramid and actions that we can all take to improve the culture and climate of our schools and improve the well-being of our teachers.
In this session participants will:
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Lunch Buffet | DINING ROOM
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Speaker: Tiffany Russell, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, St. Martin’s Episcopal School
A sense of belonging and involvement has been shown to be positively associated with academic achievement and retention. But, when schools say they envision a place where everyone belongs, what do they really mean? And, how can schools find out how each member of the school community experiences belonging?
By way of definition, a sense of belonging includes perceived social support and the experience of being accepted and respected authentically. Furthermore, Brene Brown suggests that “belonging is being part of something bigger than yourself. But it’s also the courage to stand alone and to belong to yourself above all else.” So, how do we measure this?
In this workshop, we will center our work on various working definitions of belonging that can be used at faith-based and secular schools and explore creative ways to assess belonging. Participants will practice sacred listening and explore the group conversation and civic dinner model as three different ways to nurture and evaluate belonging.
Speaker: Ryan Welsh, Chief Design Strategist, Providence Day School
Participants will literally and figuratively sketch their way toward a sharper vision of what faculty need to be and do in order to best serve their independent school communities. This session will advance the cause of any leader no matter where they might be in the development of a portrait of an educator. The practice and reflection in this session will challenge and support leaders whether they are developing a portrait for the first time or reimagining a longstanding and well-used portrait. Participants will benefit from one another and the collaborative power of diverse visions aimed at a common goal. In various ways, we will collectively consider the following:
Speaker: Connie White, Director of Learning Design & Innovation, Woodward Academy
We have an opportunity to embrace and further strengthen many of the changes that we were forced to address during COVID. As schools work toward continual improvement, we understand that successful school reform is dependent on successfully managing change. In this engaging session, participants will collaboratively identify essential growth initiatives, focus on the most critical needs, and begin the process of creating an action plan. This research-based session will further prepare attendees to consider, harness, and mobilize for school improvement. Visioning, working with teams, communication, and gathering feedback are a few of the topics that will be addressed. In addition, we will share many examples, frameworks, and helpful templates with attendees.
2:30 PM – 3:00 PM
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Speaker: Naima Williams, Middle School Counselor, Woodward Academy
Over the last few years, world and national events have underscored the need for our society to authentically examine the lived experience of marginalized communities. Consequently, many schools have made efforts to improve student experiences with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). Simultaneously, schools have also seen an unprecedented increase in student mental wellness concerns. These seemingly unrelated issues are in fact intertwined. In this session, an overview of the connection between DEIB and student mental wellness will be provided. Additionally, best practices for fostering environments which support mental wellness, engaging families in mental wellness conversations, and supporting students as they encounter bias, will be discussed.
Speaker: Felicia McCrary, Director of Strategic Engagement, The Galloway School
“Why are we still here?”
“How have we not made progress on this idea/initiative?”
“What does it take to get this group to buy in to change?”
Chances are if you have ever been in charge of or part of an initiative that requires change across a team, department, or the school as a whole, you have asked some variation of these questions. You have likely also felt exhausted, frustrated, or both. Changing your own mind is hard enough. Changing someone else’s is even tougher, particularly when you’re trying to get a team or group to buy in to change a plan, start a new one, or improve a process that everyone knows is broken. But change is exactly what organizations and the people in them need to do.
Join this session to identify the common ways people think about change and information in general and how those ways of thinking can inhibit or enhance organizational change. We’ll identify some common reasons that you or your team might be struggling to get buy-in. We will also look at practical ways to map out getting your team on board with change and fostering buy-in for initiatives.
Speaker: Joseph Moody, Head of Middle School, Lovett School
Division Level: Middle (6-8)
Do you have the following questions about advisory:
This session will help you start a toolbox to build an effective advisory program by exploring answers to the questions above and more. A successful advisory program that supports your school’s mission and vision can be a difference maker in the experience of your middle school students.
Speakers: Justin Brandon, Assistant Head for Academic Affairs, and Kendra Varnell, Assistant Head for Student Affairs, Ravenscroft School
The last two years of the pandemic have amplified the necessity for schools to play a role in supporting students’ well-being and providing community and connection for faculty and staff. As we returned to in-person school in the fall and experienced unprecedented mental health concerns, we identified needs within our community that required a shift from ongoing crisis management to more proactive care. Learn how Ravenscroft School has developed a comprehensive approach to wellness and support of their school community, and get ideas for programs you can implement in your own schools.
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Reception/Exhibits | LULLWATER FOYER
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Speaker: Peggy Campbell-Rush, U.S. Fulbright Education Specialist, U.S. Fulbright Education Program
Join this session to learn:
Speaker: Laura Tierney, Founder and CEO, The Social Institute
Every day students are hit with social media posts, comments from friends, changing tech trends, and a variety of pressures. School leaders are trying to support student well-being and foster productive learning environments, but social-emotional health is complicated and it’s easy to make mistakes. Join this session for an interactive discussion about how to avoid the most common mistakes when implementing SEL education.
Speaker: Joshua Nelson, Director of Faculty and Curriculum/Consultant, ISM
After a few hectic years, many school leaders are re-focusing their time and attention away from risk mitigation measures and back towards teaching and learning. Before you rush into developing observation protocols and schedules, consider that intentional focus towards your school’s culture and community should be the first thing you take on before you plan on visiting classrooms. Learn how to become an observer of culture and communities in order to provide actionable feedback that teachers will appreciate and will ultimately benefit students. By the end of the session, participants will be able to pop-in to classes and better identify teaching and learning strengths and challenges, even if the pop-in is only a few minutes and isn’t at the beginning of the class.
10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Speaker: Ken Rogers, Upper Division Head, The Park School
With no shortage of information about leadership, how does the modern leader establish and maintain the clarity of self and process to be most effective whatever the need of the moment happens to be? In this interactive session, through stories, scenarios, conversations, and considerations, participants will take what they have learned in the conference and other experiences and begin to center in on being clearer about who they are as a leader and the tools that can most help them operate with greater impact from that centered place.