Happy May, Friends!
It is hard to believe, but this is my last president’s letter for this newsletter. Next year you will see the voices of many SAIS board members in this spot as the organization transitions to new leadership. As many of you have likely seen, the wonderful Lori Spear has agreed to be the acting president during this interim window, a role that she is already looking forward to handing to whomever the next president will be. She will be supported by our incredible team and several experienced leaders, coaches, and lawyers to continue to meet the needs of our schools next year. I have been working with the team to lay out the amazing number of opportunities, resources, and learning that will happen next year across the organization. As always, I am in awe of what this association can accomplish and the incredible talent that it contains in its staff, within its board, and across our diverse membership.
I do want to share that I would not trade my time at SAIS for time at any other organization, particularly during these last four years. I have had the good fortune to work with wonderful people around great projects that I like to think have helped schools over the years, but this work during the pandemic and beyond has been like no other time I can remember. What surprises me the most, looking back, is not that SAIS collectively rose to the occasion, creating great resources and opportunities to bring schools together, but the incredible amount of learning and true iterating we did together during this time. Thank you for being so game to readily jump into that time and those experiences. The amount of courage and leadership shown by our schools was truly awe-inspiring.
Many people have asked about my plans for the summer. I am, indeed, taking some time off. Some of that time will be spent way off the grid, without cell coverage or Wi-Fi, although there will be books on board. For those looking for reading suggestions for the summer, here are some of the titles from my leaning tower that I plan on tackling. There will inevitably be a few more just-for-fun reads sprinkled in, and feel free to send some suggestions my way!
In the meantime, even after I make the jump to NAIS, I am always just an email or a phone call away. Please do not hesitate to reach out if I can be of any help.
Have a great summer!
AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu LeeThis came to me on the recommendation of Chris Pomar at Swift School. I feel like I am cheating a little with this book as the potential impact of AI boggles my mind and reading other people’s thoughts on this topic helps me better understand the scope of its reach.
Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness, and Productivity by Gloria MarkThis book and the next both showed up in my Next Big Idea box this week. Byron Hulsey at Woodberry introduced me to this subscription service. It’s a great way to get introduced to new books and concepts and they do a great job of providing additional resources around the books. As someone who has sensed a new struggle to read more than a few pages at a time, I am curious about some of the concepts in this book. Our attention is certainly valuable real estate and I suspect we should be treating it as such.
How Do We Know Ourselves? by David MyersMy first psychology class in college was an eye-opener and it launched a lifelong fascination with what drives people. David Myers has written more than his share of textbooks and articles about psychology over the years and this book looks like a compendium of this top hits for lay people (or those with shortened attention spans, see above). The individual essays stand alone, making for great shorter flight reads.
Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten HansenThis is a revisit for me, as it has been out since 2011. While it may never have gone out of style, I think deliberate action and commitment to being great through the rapids of change we are experiencing and will continue to navigate are going to be crucial over the next few years.
Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic by Jennifer WallaceNot to tip our cards too much, but Jennie will be speaking at the SAIS Annual Conference in October. She is a rockstar on a variety of fronts, and Scott Galloway has already called out her book on his Twitter feed, momentarily breaking the Amazon pre-order button. Jennie and her husband have kids in independent schools and her research-based book on this topic is going to be one you want to read early. She doubles down on the importance of mattering for all people, but particularly our students.
Little Platoons: A Defense of Family in a Competitive Age by Matt FeeneyLet’s face it, post-pandemic, everything is on the table, and I think this is very true for Millennials and Gen Z parents who are quickly coming along. How they think about parenting and family will impact our industry and it also shines a light on the relative choices that have been made over the last two decades. Anything that talks about how this may be shifting is interesting to me right now.
Generations: The Real Differences Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers and What They Mean for America’s Future by Jean TwengeAs interests around the economy, climate, quality of life, equity, and health, among other things, continue to collide, these generational tensions and overlaps are likely to become more crucial to understanding where the puck is going next. I like Jean Twenge’s writing generally, and I was happy to see this book appear on my doorstep the other day.
Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty SeiduleI can’t wait to get into this one. I love stories, both books and personal tales, of people who find themselves on completely different paths in their lives. This one is written by a retired West Point professor who grew up in the South and revered Robert E. Lee and the Lost Cause into his adult life, including his time serving in the army. This book is a look at his personal history and history in general, and what brought him to the complete opposite belief as a retired brigadier general.
Belonging: The Ancient Code of Togetherness by Owen EastwoodA gift from Glyn Cowlishaw who tells me this is one of the most powerful speakers he has seen in a long time. Owen Eastwood is an internationally acclaimed performance coach who bases much of his thinking and approach around the concept of belonging as it is found in Maori culture in New Zealand, the idea that “you belong here” or whakapapa. I do believe that understanding belonging and creating healthy culture where all students, families, and staff truly feel they belong can be a hallmark of our schools, so this will be read earlier in the summer.
We Should Not Be Friends: The Story of a Friendship by Will SchwableThis book is about the story of two men who become unlikely friends in college and follows that friendship over the years. This is a new author for me, but the book has come highly recommended, and I am looking forward to reading it. I have heard that it will make you both laugh and cry, so be prepared.
Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin WilsonNo relation to me, but we did go to college together. This is a fun read for me as I have loved Kevin’s other books, with The Family Fang being a long-time favorite of mine. If you like slightly off the wall, but just beautifully written, his books are ones to check out.
Darker Domain by Val McDermidI do love a good mystery, preferably set in another country just to shake it up. I have started this one and I am enjoying it tremendously. This is a new author for me, and I am looking forward to reading her other books.