Letter from the President
Kirk Walker, Ph.D.

The day after the recent national elections, someone contacted me and asked if I had any advice about how schools might address student concerns in the aftermath of such a divisive election. On one level, the question puzzled me. Historically, there are numerous past elections that were equally (if not more) divisive. In fact, the Broadway hit Hamilton references one of our most vitriolic ones (and they didn't even have 24/7 media exposure then). The election of Andrew Jackson became so negative and so personal that many felt that the opposition's accusations hastened his wife's premature death. And of course, there is the election that precipitated the Civil War. Unfortunately, politics is often a "blood sport." There is much money and power at stake, and disinformation (or "fake news") is a staple of the political campaign toolbox.
This past election may seem atypical in recent memory, but it is not unique. And the campaign itself is merely a manifestation of much deeper societal issues ... issues that challenge students and educators every day and not just every four years. There are two that stand out for me:
  1. Students swim in an ocean of unsubstantiated "information" every day. Some of it is unintentionally biased; some of it is deliberately distorted. How do we help students digest volumes of data and discern fact from various shades of fiction? (Edweek offered a recent article on this subject.)
  2. On the national stage, reasoned discussion has been eclipsed by media posturing and name-calling. In the absence of high-profile role models, how do we teach students teamwork and the art of compromise? 
I do not have the answers to these questions. Or what answers I might have are incomplete. But I believe that the answers are in our schools, and I invite you to share them with me. After all, that is what teamwork means.


How Do You Grow a Leader? 
Pedagogy with Pups
By Christina Mimms, SAIS

Schools receive all sorts of requests from parents on behalf of students. Whether they need to accommodate a child's injury or set up tutoring, school leaders try to support their students in every possible way. In recent years, several SAIS heads have been asked to allow service dogs on campus to assist students' different needs. While honoring the request required schools to address a few logistics, they also found that the pooches served a great purpose on campus.  >>Read more.
Creating Cultures of Thinking 
By Ron Ritchhart
Reviewed by Lee Hark, Associate Head of School, Durham Academy, Durham, NC
Among the more vexing trends in education is our current fixation on developing "21st Century Skills." The lists of skills vary a bit, but they typically include competence in at least some of the following areas: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication. Perhaps it is the "21st century" designation itself that is most annoying; it has never been clear to me what makes these skills unique to our new millennium. Wasn't communication important in the 20th century, too? (And the 17th?) And when this movement goes the way of all flesh, as such things do in our line of work, will schools stop emphasizing these skills and move on to ... something else that starts with a "C"?    >>Read more.  
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.

NAIS Names New President

The NAIS board of trustees has announced that Donna Orem, current interim president, is the next president of the association. Donna joined NAIS in 1998 as the vice president for educational leadership, later becoming the vice president for strategic initiatives and research. She served as the chief operating officer of NAIS for 11 years before becoming interim president. Prior to joining NAIS, she served as the vice president for products and services development at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). In her 15 years at CASE, she also served as vice president for independent schools. The search committee and the board were impressed by Donna's long experience of working with independent schools, her deep knowledge of the issues that our schools have faced and will face, and her significant expertise in governance and leadership. Read more on the NAIS web site. 
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. The rate increases on Dec. 16!   >>Register here. 
You're Invited to the SAIS-Vanderbilt University PoCC Reception
Thursday, December 8 6:00-8:00 PM 
Room B407 at the Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW, Atlanta, GA 30313 
For PoCC information and registration, please go to pocc.nais.org.

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

Leadership Development
Service Dogs in Schools
Book Review
SAIS Collaboration Grants
NAIS Names New President
Athletic Directors Conference
On-Site Board Workshops
Tweets of Note
SAIS Featured School
Asheville School

This fall, Asheville School welcomed a record number of 289 students to campus on Opening Day. This marks the school's 10th consecutive year with record enrollment numbers. Students are coming to Asheville School from 20 states and from 16 countries. Eighty percent of students board and 20 percent are local day students from the Asheville area. The average class size consists of 13 students and there is a 4:1 teacher to student ratio.
>>Read more. 

Would you like to be an SAIS Featured School? Contact christina@sais.org
Blogs of Note
Nishant Mehta, head of The Children's School in Atlanta, offers his expertise to Elmo and friends.
Mark Crotty, head of St. John's Episcopal School in Dallas, shares lessons he's learned post-injury. 

Veteran educator Tom Olverson suggests do's and don'ts for trustees. 

Jay Watts, assistant director of athletics at The Westminster Schools of Atlanta, considers opposing points of view. 
Tweets of Note
Thanksgiving celebrations, goats in the garden, and SAIS tours Charlotte, NC. 
>>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.