Hello Friends!

As you read this, February is coming to its quick close. To many this month is the trough of the school year, particularly in our region where we do not tend to build in a longer midwinter break. That being said, with March fast approaching, many of us are suddenly caught flatfooted as this academic year starts to draw to a close. Now is the time to batten down the hatches for the quick ride that bring us to end of the year.

Hiring and Overall Employment

Many schools are in the midst of, or have already had conversations around contract renewals, at least in terms of being more aware of employees who are planning to move on to other opportunities. Now is the time to talk with staff about challenges that might prevent them from being renewed for next year, or to work with your outside counsel on not renewing employees who may be a better fit for a different school. It is easy to put off these conversations as they are uncomfortable for everyone involved, but prioritizing them gives both your school and the staff member the opportunity to create healthier environments for our students. These conversations will also help your school readily jump into hiring for next year.

If you are worried about retaining and hiring faculty and staff, you are not alone. The Independent School Chairs Association did a survey of board chairs about things they were really worried about for the year ahead. The number one topic on the minds of a bit more than 60% was around staff recruitment and retention. This is consistent with what I am hearing from heads and administrators. If you are looking for new ways to think about how we work in schools, this publication might be interesting to you. I am intrigued to see some of these theories in action, but it resonated with me in terms of answering a lot of problems schools are working on. This piece is about how a FL principal recruits his former students to work in the classroom. I loved the insights around the student experience aimed at this kind of outcome, and it really got me thinking about apprentice models, but it also got me thinking about what school I visited recently that has students who are potentially interested in education spending time in their preschool as part of their capstone projects. Finally, this is a great HBR article on competing in the new talent market, including what people are really looking for in their work experience.

Student Related Policies and Procedures

We all know how quickly spring breaks, semi-formals, proms, class trips, and the other signals of the spring semester appear on the horizon, leading us to the 100 days of May. And, stories like this one  about a group of school administrators who were indicted for failure to report are on my mind. I have no idea what happened in this case, and there will be follow up hearings to sort it out, but it serves as a substantial reminder that if there is any doubt, you want to err on the side of reporting when it comes to any issues around student abuse or harm. Now is the time to revisit with your team your reporting requirements, protocols, and policies, as well as those related to disciplinary infractions. You may find that it is helpful to review this information with your students and families, too, especially as practices have occasionally shifted during the pandemic. If you need to brush up on your processes and language, you might consider this resource on legally sound disciplinary practices from Fisher Phillips. Additional behavior and discipline policy resources can be found on our website.

Student Wellness Stats

One topic that bears paying special attention to as we go into spring is the recent data around adolescent wellness. We discussed some of this data at the heads’ roundtable this week, but definitely take a look at the recent report by the CDC on the record high levels of sadness in teen girls and LGBTQ youth. This study found that three in five girls felt persistent sadness in 2021, and one in three girls seriously considered suicide. This data combines with additional research that saw the first increase in suicide in 2021 after two years of decline. This data is particularly important right now as spring tends to have higher suicide numbers than other seasons. Now is the time to pay special attention to how our students are doing and reinforce the support systems they have around them.

Think of visiting all these topics in advance of true spring, a kind of spring cleaning!

Finally, you may have seen that I have accepted the position of president of NAIS, starting this coming summer. Leading SAIS during this incredible time has truly been a highlight of my career and has only strengthened my conviction in our schools and our industry. I look forward to working with the SAIS team and board to ensure the healthy transition of the organization in the months ahead, and I am never more than an email or phone call away.

In the meantime, as ever, if there is anything we at SAIS can do to help you, do not hesitate to reach out!