Letter from the President
Kirk Walker, Ph.D.

Almost five years ago, my younger brother decided to move to Alaska. At the time, he had a law practice in Tennessee and had only visited Alaska on a summer cruise. Up until his move, he had spent his entire life in the Southeast. Like many of your students, he attended independent schools K-12 and went to college in Virginia. In fact, he had never lived north of Charlottesville.

He told me that the reason for his move was because he thought it was time to re-invent himself and that Alaska was a good place to do it. "Living there," he said, "requires a large measure of self-reliance; you have to learn to solve problems on your own, to be creative, to be persistent; and the margin for survival (particularly in the winter) is considerably narrower than it is in the lower 48."

While I admire his "grit," I do not plan to relocate. But his reasoning continues to resonate. What was it in his background that gave him the confidence to take the leap? Do all of us need to re-invent ourselves periodically? Perhaps the word that we might use is "renewal." In either case, by throwing himself out of his comfort zone, my brother has learned to see the world and his life in refreshing ways. Few people will ever take the leap that he did, but the challenge of renewal remains real for all of us.

School administration is full-time; and even if you are not "at school," the school is in you. Once the year starts, it doesn't stop. Once the school year ends, the preparation for the next year begins. Even finding a time to think or talk about something unrelated to daily efforts is a challenge. The old expression "It is hard to change a tire at 60 miles per hour" is a very real description of an independent school educator's life. But if the tire doesn't get changed, a blowout or at least a flat is inevitable.

We don't all need to move to Alaska. But we do need distance from our work. We do need a fresh perspective to the life in front of us. There are, of course, many ways to refresh our outlook other than changing jobs or relocating; you could acquire a new hobby, backpack, practice meditation, etc. But another way is to spend time with colleagues away from daily pressures, thinking and discussing larger issues than those of the "the moment." With respect to this last suggestion, check your calendar. Look at the "renewal" opportunities available this spring and summer (from SAIS and others). Take the leap.
Parents Enjoy a Fresh Start to the School Year
By Christina Mimms, SAIS
The start of any new school year can easily be labeled as hectic. Teachers are trying to get to know their students, while students anxiously work to learn their new schedules. Parents may be a little nervous. To ease those feelings and create a better start to the new year, The Fletcher School in Charlotte, NC, decided to change not only the first day, but also the first parent-teacher conferences, with great success.    >>Read more.  
Millennials with Kids 
By Jeff Fromm & Marissa Vidler
Reviewed by Dr. Mary McPhersonElementary School Principal, St. Martin's Episcopal School, Atlanta

With one in four millennials having a child, independent schools must pay close attention to the generational characteristics that are starting to present themselves. As evidenced by the number of workshops devoted to understanding the millennial generation (those born between 1977 and 1996) offered at the October 2016 SAIS Conference, it is clear that schools are paying attention to this demographic and are yearning for more information on the largest generation, even larger than the Baby Boomers, and to understand how best to respond to their expectations and desires as they look for a school for their children.  >>Read more.   
Calling a Snow Day 
By Paul Bianchi, Head of Paideia School, Atlanta

I have always liked my job, almost all parts of it. As head of Paideia School, I don't mind the long hours, the evening meetings, the carpool lines, or the clutter of a typical school day. I have learned to survive in a world where ambiguity abounds and where I have to fend off those armed with universal certainties. I am well suited for this line of work. Mostly. The one aspect of my job that I don't like, and never have, and at which I never seem to get any better, is making the decision to call off school when snowflakes come our way. Never is it lonelier, or colder, at the top than on those mornings when wintry weather threatens our normal routine. Hours before sunrise, when most people are still in bed and should be, I am up trying to decide what to do with little or no dependable information. >>Read more. 

Don't let snow days put the freeze on your school calendar! Regarding the number of required school days, in the SAIS Accreditation Standards,
 Indicator 3.7 reads:

Plans a mission-appropriate academic calendar with a minimum of 170 days, or more if required by state law, during which students and teachers engage in teaching/learning activities. 

For more information, check out SAIS  School and Team Resources
SAIS Wants YOUR Session Proposal by March 31

Proposals are currently being accepted for  breakout sessions for the  2017 SAIS Annual Conference   October 22-24 in Atlanta.  The deadline is March 31. Please submit your proposal  using  this form

The word Events in cut out magazine letters pinned to a cork notice board. Events may refer to news
2017 Calendar of Events

SAIS offers a variety of affordable, accessible, and relevant professional development programs for independent school leaders.


SAIS @ NAIS  RSVP for the SAIS reception now!

March 2-3 | Baltimore 

Heads Leadership Retreat  Registration open! 
April 3-4 | Savannah, GA
June 19-21 | Emory Conference Center | Atlanta, GA
New! Dean of Students Symposium - 
Details coming soon! 
June 19-21 | Emory Conference Center | Atlanta, GA
June 20-21 | Emory Conference Center | Atlanta, GA
June 21-23 | Emory Conference Center | Atlanta, GA
June 21-23 | Emory Conference Center | Atlanta, GA
Institute for Heads  Registration open! 
June 27-30 | Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa | Palm Beach, FL
June & July | Charlotte, NC | Nashville, TN | Atlanta, GA
July 10-12 | Atlanta, GA
October 22 | Crowne Plaza Ravinia | Atlanta, GA

October 22-24 | Crowne Plaza Ravinia | Atlanta, GA 

See the full SAIS calendar of events at www.sais.org/events

SAIS Institute for Heads

Take advantage of a unique opportunity for heads of school and spouses at the SAIS Institute for Heads, June 27-30, 2017  at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan (Palm Beach), FL.  This engaging, energizing, and nurturing retreat offers an opportunity for thoughtful dialogue and engagement with colleagues on key issues facing school heads. 

Featuring Rob Evans and Michael Thompson , heads can dig into the topics that only other heads of school can understand. "In this particular setting, we come together and talk about what really matters," said Arch McIntosh, head of Charlotte Latin School in Charlotte, NC. "No event has a greater impact on my personal and professional life, and it's the only thing I attend where my wife feels like an equal partner."
As part of the Institute for Heads, heads and their spouses may attend optional sessions that look at the personal side of leadership: the challenges of being the "first couple," the particular burdens for spouses, partners, and children of heads, and more. Spouses also may participate in a panel discussion and Q&A.  
"I always leave this event feeling like I received twice the value for the investment of time and money - three days of a good conference and three days of good therapy!" McIntosh said. "The timing is great and allows me perspective at the end of each school year."
Registration now open! Join us in Palm Beach, June 27-30, 2017!   >>More information.

On-Site Board Workshops
SAIS President Dr. Kirk Walker is available to visit your campus and conduct on-site governance workshops.
  • Trusteeship for Independent Schools
  • New Trustee Orientation
  • Becoming an Outstanding Board
  • The Changing Landscape of Independent School Governance 

A Fresh Start to the School Year
Book Review
Calling a Snow Day
Call for Proposals
SAIS Institute for Heads
Tweets of Note
NEW! SAIS Surveys
SAIS Featured School
Baylor School

Located in Chattanooga, TN, and established in 1893, Baylor School is a leading college preparatory day/boarding schools, so it's no surprise that leadership development is taken seriously.   >>Read more.

Would you like to be an SAIS Featured School? Contact christina@sais.org
Blogs of Note
War on Information
Dave Michelman, head of the Duke School in Durham, NC, cautions educators. 

Allen Broyles, assistant head of The Children's School in Atlanta, shares insights from the NAIS People of Color Conference. 

The Parent-Teacher Conference Dance
Jill Singleton, head of All Saints Episcopal Day School in Hoboken, NJ, offers advice for conference days. 

Professor and author John Spencer looks to the future. 
Tweets of Note

Back to school, snow days, and more
>>Read tweets here.

The  SAIS Value Narrative Survey is a school culture and climate survey that helps schools understand the important beliefs of stakeholders and the perceptions of how well the school is delivering on its mission. More than 150 schools have used the survey and more than 100,000 responses have been generated.
NEW! SAIS is piloting TWO new surveys: 

The Self-Determination Survey is for faculty and students and helps the school measure and understand the critical relationships between these two groups. 

The Board Governance Survey is aligned with the SAIS Governance Training and measures the board and the head's commitment to the SAIS five domains of governance.


Both of these are available now in pilot phase and at no cost, for now! Contact Damian Kavanagh at damian@sais.org for more information. Both surveys can be delivered with the Value Narrative Survey or as a stand-alone. 

Retiring in 2017? 
A blue nametag sticker with the words Hello I Am Retired to illustrate that you are done with your career and are living off a pension or 401k or other retirement savingsIf you are a head of school who will be retiring at the end of the 2016-17 school year, please let us know so we can induct you into the SAIS Legacy Club, a group of retired heads of school who gather annually. Please complete our Legacy Club bio form.