Letter from the President
Kirk Walker, Ph.D.

The 10th grade son of a friend recently contracted a rare virus that attacked his heart. In less than two weeks, he went from being a healthy adolescent to the number one person on the list for a heart transplant. His school community has enveloped him and his family in loving support. While the specifics of his situation may be unique, it is in many ways not unlike those moments that have occurred in virtually all of your schools. In some cases, it may have been a health-related challenge; and in others it may have been the toll of a natural disaster. Some had happy endings; some not as happy.

A favorite teacher of mine once said: "Teaching is kin to the ministry." And there are points in all school administrators' careers when they are called upon to provide pastoral care and comfort to their communities, when they are expected to know when to embrace, when to sit in quiet support, when to provide leadership and direction, and when to speak words of healing.

These are not skills that most learn in their educational training. Instead they learn how to plan, organize, gather data and make decisions, evaluate faculty and programs, raise money and build facilities, market their schools, establish budgets, and avoid legal liability. And effective leaders must continually sharpen and expand their understanding in all of these areas ... and more.

But in these very human moments of sadness and suffering, great leaders reveal their own humanity. At the deepest level, they draw strength and power from the values that called them to the profession: a genuine love of people and a commitment to serve others.

At the recent SAIS Annual Conference, so many of you were engaged in enhancing your ability to direct and improve your schools. I was impressed by your dedication to lifelong learning. But in conversations with you, I was even more impressed by the way that so many of you reflect those emotional values that will serve your schools so well in times of crises. You don't just manage; you care. Thank you.
SAIS Annual Conference an
Outstanding Success! 
School Farms Capture Lessons in Sustainability
By Christina Mimms, SAIS

Among SAIS schools' extracurricular offerings, farming rarely makes the list. While some manage small gardens, few have the space for anything resembling a farm. Those who do have the capacity are finding that school farms provide myriad learning opportunities, some of which have nothing to do with agricultural studies.  >>Read more.
Good Thinking 
By Erik Palmer
Reviewed by JP Hemingway, Head of Upper School, The Altamont School, Birmingham, AL
Before school opened this August, I presented to our faculty at The Altamont School a method of writing which prompts students to generate new ideas about content they have encountered in class. The strategy gives students opportunities to take creative risks in low-stakes assessments, in hopes that they will gain the confidence needed to form more sophisticated arguments in all their classes, across the curriculum. The goal is that they learn to take a position on a topic and support their ideas with evidence. This is exactly where Erik Palmer picks up in Good Thinking: he starts by considering all the useful tactics teachers employ to establish habits of critical thinking in their students while taking for granted that their students already know how to think critically, simply because we ask them to.   >>Read more.  

SAIS Athletic Directors Conference - Registration Now Open!

The 2nd Annual Athletic Directors Conference will be held January 12-13, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta. Attend sessions about leadership, gender equity, parent-coach relationships, event management, and more! Visit  www.sais.org/ADC.   >>Register here. 
Stephen P. Robinson Collaboration Grants

The Stephen P. Robinson Collaboration Grants were created to encourage independent schools to form new partnerships with other schools, institutions of higher education, businesses, and/or nonprofits. SAIS will annually divide a total of $25,000 among two to five member schools. 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. SAIS will accept proposals for the 2017 Collaboration Grants until December 31, 2016. Awards will be announced and disbursed by February 1, 2017.    >>Read more about the Collaboration Grants Program.

SAIS Releases New Booklet

At the 2016 Annual Conference, SAIS released the fifth in a series of informative themed booklets. As many schools have crafted a vision statement to accompany their mission statement, the VISION booklet looks at three aspects of school life that are impacted by a school's vision: campus, people, and programs, as well as potential threats to a school's vision. Read Vision and the other SAIS booklets online at sais.org/booklets

On-Site Board Workshops
SAIS President Dr. Kirk Walker and Vice President Damian Kavanagh are 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 
Do Your Bylaws Need a Refresh?

We have read quite a number and are happy to read yours and will provide suggestions on aligning your bylaws with your aspirations of being and remaining a strategically effective board.  Contact Damian Kavanagh at SAIS, (404) 918-8850 or  damian@sais.org .
We're Looking for a Few Good ... Photos
Your School's Logo 
Does your school's logo appear in the SAIS Online Member Directory?  If not, please send your school's logo to anna@sais.org.


Annual Conference
School Farms
Book Review
Athletic Directors Conference
SAIS Collaboration Grants
On-Site Board Workshops
Tweets of Note
SAIS Featured School
Holy Spirit Preparatory

Holy Spirit Preparatory School is a remarkable school among the many good independent schools in the Atlanta market. The young but accomplished school is one of the few independent Catholic schools in the Atlanta metro area. Serving students from 6 months old through 12th grade, it is ideal for families.
 >>Read more. 

Would you like to be an SAIS Featured School? Contact christina@sais.org
Blogs of Note
Vanessa Robinson, K-8 counselor at The Randolph School in Huntsville, AL, shares ways for schools to help young children.  
Consultant Janelle McLaughlin writes about the importance of modeling behavior

Dr. Colleen Worrell, director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at St. Mark's School in Southborough, MA, encourages focus without distractions. 

Heather Wolpert-Gawron, language arts teacher and author in San Gabriel, CA, offers some new habits for students. 
Tweets of Note
Highlights from the SAIS Conference, pumpkins, Halloween fun, and more! 
>>Read tweets here.

The  SAIS Value Narrative Survey is a school culture and school 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.
SAIS is piloting a Self-Determination Survey for faculty and students and a governance evaluation assessment that is aligned with the five domains of SAIS governance training. Contact us for information or to participate.  
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.