Wishing you all the best this holiday season!
Letter from the SAIS President
Peace on earth, goodwill toward men …

Recently, I asked a colleague what he thought was the biggest threat to our schools. His response did not mention tax reform or shifting demographics or competition from online and hybrid alternatives. He said: “How do we encourage healthy civil discourse and intellectual inquiry without being perceived as having a social agenda in doing so.” His stark response echoed similar voices from other heads of school.

When I was a student, one of the chief objectives of an education was to acquire information, not just any information but the most reliable information, the most factual information. Our job as students was to purse the facts; hearsay and opinion were weak substitutes. If one of our teachers had called us “fact checkers,” we would have been complimented. Now, “fact checkers” are dismissed as political operatives, focused on supporting a position and not on finding truth. 

Unavoidably, our students (as well as their families and communities) swim in a sea of “facts” that are unverified and are often mere fictions promulgated for destructive reasons. Culturally, we choose sides, then pick our preferred source of “facts,” and dismiss all others as “fake.” We find ourselves engage in a contest of words, and the prize for the winners is the right to define “truth.”

 As we escort one year out and another one in, let’s remind ourselves that search for truth is a noble goal, not a birthright, and that men and women of goodwill know that peace comes when those that disagree recognize their common journey and extend their hand in fellowship and respect.

In this and in every season, your schools are instruments of that peace.

Dr. Kirk Walker, SAIS President
High-stakes Exams Can Put Female Students at a Disadvantage, Stanford Researcher Finds
By Carrie Spector, Stanford University
A new study suggests that women are more heavily influenced than men by test anxiety, and points to ways to help close the gender gap. Research has long shown that women who enter college intending to pursue a career in science abandon that path more frequently than their male peers, with many citing poor grades and large gateway classes as reasons for their declining interest. To what extent do these women fall behind because of the way science is taught and tested?
Don't Miss the Deadline for SAIS Collaboration Grants! Applications Due 12/31
SAIS is accepting applications for The Stephen P. Robinson Collaboration Grants from now through December 31, 2017. Five member schools each will receive a $5,000 grant. Those applying must demonstrate a vision and capacity to pursue and carry out meaningful collaborations. Successful examples have demonstrated efforts that benefit the greater community or region in unique ways. The Robinson Collaboration Grants were created to encourage independent schools to form new partnerships with other schools or institutions of higher education, with preference given to collaborations with other schools serving students in any grades from K through 12th. Schools selected for grants will share their results with the SAIS community. Submissions are due by December 31, 2017. www.sais.org/grants  
Registration is OPEN for the 2018 SAIS Athletic Directors Conference, January 16-17, in Charlotte, NC.

Session topics include:
  • Athletic Directors: Leaders and Culture Keepers
  • Developing the Moral Thought Process of Student Athletes
  • Women in Leadership: Assets and Challenges
  • Athletic Director Duties: What They Don't Tell You
  • Four Easy Ways to Control Your Message
  • Developing the Multi-Sport Athlete at a Small School
  • Budgeting Practices for Athletics
  • How to Manage the Logistical Nightmare

See full session descriptions here . Register at sais.org/ADC .
Registration is OPEN for the 2018 SAIS Finance Institute, January 16-17, in Charlotte, NC.

Sessions will include:
  • Making the Most of DASL for Your School Finances
  • Budgeting Practices and Recent Research on Reserves
  • Managing the Mountains of Data 
  • Endowment Best Practices
  • Financial Planning Tools for Successful School Leadership
  • Independent School Finance for English Majors, Historians, Coaches, Aspiring Heads, and Other Leaders

See complete session descriptions here . Register at sais.org/FI .
SAIS Featured School: Indian Springs School
Indian Springs School in Indian Springs, AL, brings together a diverse cohort of just over 300 boarding and day students in the 8 th -12 th grades on a 350-acre campus where nature serves as both inspiration and laboratory. Students from more than 20 states and countries work together with Springs’ 40 accomplished faculty members in a model of shared governance. Students discover their passions by taking part in everything from athletics to choir to student-run scholastic, service, and special-interest clubs. A broad curriculum; idyllic setting; innovative independent study and virtual learning opportunities; international community; and cutting-edge, Silver LEED-certified classrooms (built in 2015) all enhance the dynamic teaching environment that opens doors to new ideas and new possibilities. 
Announcing the 2018 SAIS Leadership Retreat: April 23-24, Louisville, KY
Pushing Our Horizons: How Do We Tackle the Big, Hairy Challenges of the Next 20 Years?
An opportunity for leaders to sharpen their skills in today’s evolving educational landscape that will go beyond “why” and focus on “how” change can best be accomplished in a setting that is often change-resistant.
Led by  Grant Lichtman , an internationally-recognized K-12 transformation thought leader, attendees will work together as they imagine futures that may look very different from the past and build a capacity and comfort with ongoing change. Participants will examine what it means to shift schools from being teaching organizations to learning organizations, which traditions are important to preserve, and which traditions hamper this shift to a long-term growth mindset. Register at sais.org/LR .
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Service learning, school visits, holiday celebrations, snowfall, and an unexpected vocal performance. 
Blog of the Week
How Positive Reinforcement Helps to Lower Stress
Tom Booker, dean of students at Cannon School in Concord, NC, writes about nurturing students.
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