2021 Heads' Retreat and Annual Association Meeting

Emerge Stronger

Tuesday, January 26 - Wednesday, January 27, 2021

plus additional opportunities on Monday, January 25

Register Here

Our team is pleased to present AISNE's 2021 Heads' Retreat and Annual Association Meeting.

This retreat is your annual opportunity to step away from the day-to-day (to the extent you are able) and come together with your peers across New England, mid-school year, to share, connect, reflect and look forward.

Monday, January 25

Heads Peer Group Gatherings

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. EST

  • 1st Year Heads
  • 2nd - 5th Year Heads
  • 6th+ Year Heads

Join together with peers at similar points in their careers as heads of independent schools. Reflect about the opportunities and insights unique to your stage in your role. Offer support and perspective; gain strength, encouragement and assurance.

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Heads Anti-Racism Working Groups

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. EST: Individual Working Groups
3:30 - 4:30 p.m. EST: Full Group Gathers Together

85 AISNE member heads embarked on this journey together in September. This marks the 7th synchronous meeting of their cohort. Learn more here.

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Cocktails and Conversation

5:45 - 6:45 p.m. EST

Come together for our traditional informal gathering. Open our annual retreat with friendship and fellowship.

Tuesday, January 26

Coffee Talk

7:00 - 8:00 a.m.

Hosted by Claire Leheny, Executive Director and Eliza Alexander, Managing Director, Northern New England

Catch up with colleagues and share stories from this unparalleled year.

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Working Session

Lead Through the Lens of Inclusion

Intentionally Cultivate an Inclusive School Community

8:30 - 11:30 a.m. EST

A special address and working session with Dr. Derrick Gay

The murder of George Floyd served as a watershed moment, highlighting longstanding racial injustice in The United States. This increased awareness has manifested in independent schools last spring, when students, faculty, and alumni shared Instagram posts sobering personal independent school experiences of racial and other forms of  discrimination. As schools aim to create more inclusive environments, how should independent school heads strategically position their respective school communities to advance inclusion in meaningful and enduring ways?
During this session, Dr. Derrick Gay will provide an opportunity for participants to learn strategic best practices and pitfalls, leveraging over 25 years of insights gleaned from working with independent schools across the country and world, in addition to supporting businesses and non-profits.

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Lunch Mix and Mingle

Featuring Mood Booster Menu Ideas Presented by FLIK Independent School Dining

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. EST

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Industry Experts

2:00 - 3:00 p.m. EST

Select a topic of special interest to you. Enjoy live discussion and Q&A in the session you choose to attend. Each session will be recorded for asynchronous catch up on additional topics later.

Session Options:

Rethink Tuition: A Decision-Making Process for School Leaders with Mark Mitchell, NAIS 
Taking stock of your tuition strategy requires an intentional approach driven by your school’s mission, resources, and market realities. The pandemic environment has exacerbated dynamics around affordability and value that have been at play in many schools since the 2008 recession (or before). If these shifting market forces are causing you to rethink your current pricing approach, join this session to explore a decision-making process your leadership team or board can engage to identify an effective pathway forward.

Engage in Efficient and Creative Fundraising Efforts with Allison White, Graham-Pelton
With there being no more planes, trains, and automobiles (or at least fewer), learn how the pandemic has fostered more efficient and creative fundraising efforts. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and fundraising in 2020 was no exception. What began as panic over canceled fundraising events shifted to many creative, efficient, and successful initiatives. Join us to hear examples and consider how you can creatively engage your community in the months ahead. 

Understand Your Options: COVID Progression Models for Independent Schools with Mike Klingshirn, FusionCell                             
The COVID-19 Pandemic has put us all in the position to wish for a REAL Magic 8 Ball, but unrtil we can see the future, we need a structure that helps us assess where we have been for the last 10 months, where we are currently and where we are going for the remaining of this academic year moving into the 2021-2022 academic year. Whether you have been in person, hybrid, or remote during this school year, you are invited to joining your peers in conversation to discuss how the progression model will offer you science backed options for the forks in the road when you, as a head of school, need to make timely institutional decisions for your community, What are the key considerations, paths, and options, and why are these the ones you are prioritizing? Digging into this model with an epidemiologist will offer you the opportunity to discuss a matrix aimed at aiding you in the decision-making process and preparing you to effectively communicate learning model transitions to students, parents, faculty, and staff.   

Apply Strategic Goals to the Master Schedule with Elliot Merenbloom                             
Even before COVID, aligning the master schedule with a school's strategic goals was challenging and difficult work. At this time, we need to think deeply about what to teach and how to teach it in the conditions we are given. Designing a schedule that is intended for full time in-person but can also be converted to hybrid or virtual will be an important step we take in this session. Join us to dive into the role the head of school has with master scheduling and how to best engage and utilize administrators and faculty in this work. 

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School Stories

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. EST

Select a topic of special interest to you. Enjoy live discussion and Q&A in the session you choose to attend. Each of these sessions will be led by a peer head of school and/or peer school administrators. These sessions will not be recorded. Takeaway resources may be provided.

Session Options:

Promote Student Agency Through Action and Connection with Dedham Country Day School
The ThinkGive Project empowers students in grades 4-8 to choose kindness; to build a strong sense of self, make meaningful connections, and learn to be agents of positive change in their schools and communities. Learn how  implementing ThinkGive led to enhanced social emotional learning in the school community by engaging young people in conversations and action around social justice, inclusion, identity, and empathy. 

Forge Community Partnerships with Walnut Hill School for the Arts                               
As you consider what sets your school apart and makes it unique, it can also be beneficila to look for organizations that are mission-aligned and help fulfill the needs and wants of your prospective and current families. Walnut Hill School for The Arts and the Boston Ballet School forged a new partnership in the fall of 2020. Learn how one school recognized a trend and strength within their community and looked to the broader community for a way to offer differentiation and extension.  Building on the strength and expertise of both separate organizations, a joint program was formed. Join this session to think about ways your school's strengths and needs could be fulfilled and exceeded by partnering with resources in the broader community.

Leverage Your Knowledge about the International Student Landscape with St. Johnsbury Academy                                                                                                          
Join this session to discuss, better understand, prepare for, and respond to a host of external forces over which your school has no control. Heads of school need to pay attention to and offer advice for leading and managing in a rapidly changing- and often chaotic- international environment. Today, the international student recruitment and enrollment landscape is more complex than ever. The enrollment pressures exerted on independent schools are significant and come from all sides. We will discuss how cost, demographics, politics, and competition disrupt enrollment patterns in U.S. independent schools. 

Scenario Plan for Summer: Lessons Learned from 2020 and Looking Forward with Dexter Southfield School, The Fenn School and Glen Urquhart School

Summer camps are often a big revenue source for our schools and a great venue for promoting your school to prospective students and their families. The safety and health of campers and staff is always the highest priority at camp. Camps also have a long history of planning for and managing communicable diseases. With the spread of COVID-19, there is so much to take into consideration. Learn about what summer camp 2020 looked like for three AISNE member schools and how people are thinking and planning for summer 2021.

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Annual Association Meeting

4:45 - 5:30 p.m. EST

Hosted by Mark Stanek, Board President and Claire Leheny, Executive Director

Learn about key milestone achievements to help keep AISNE on course for continued vibrancy, growth and success.

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Special Networking Event

5:45 - 7:00 p.m. EST

Generously presented by First Republic Bank

Broadway Roulette Mixer is the fun and easy way to mix with Broadway talent from anywhere in the world! Log in and enjoy unprecedented access to Broadway's best for behind-the-scenes stories, unscripted Q&A, and exclusive performances. Hear what Broadway is really like from a leading performer from the Hamilton National Tour, an artist who has worked behind-the-scenes on the hit show, and a principal cast member from the current Broadway production!

Just don't get too attached, because every 15 minutes we “spin the wheel” and a new guest arrives! 

AISNE thanks First Republic Bank for providing this special experience.

Wednesday, January 27

Sunrise Self Care

7:00 - 8:00 a.m. EST

A session with Dr. Holly Hinderlie | Holton-Arms School


Start the day with a session that focuses on you and your well-bing, something that can be overlooked in the life of a busy head. This time will be an opportunity for self-reflection. Through the use of a wellness exercise, each person will have an opportunity to reveal underlying obstacles and identify ways to actively bring more balance to your life.

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Working Session

Career Recharge: Refresh, Revitalize, Reset

8:30 - 9:30 a.m. EST

A special session with leadership and career coach, author and trainer, Beth Benatti Kennedy

This year has tested us in so many ways. Consider how you can tap into new reserves of resilience to bring to your work each and every day. Beth's positive, motivating and fun approach makes career development energizing and fulfilling. Leave this time together with five key strategies for boosting resilience and beating burnout. 

Each Heads' Retreat participant receives a copy of Beth's book, Career ReCharge:
Five Strategies to Boost Resilience and Beat Burnout
, generously sponsored by Schwartz Hannum PC. Schwartz Hannum PC has also sponsored five one-hour personal consultations with Beth which AISNE will raffle off throughout the retreat.

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Collaborate for the Greater Good

10:00 - 11:30 a.m. EST

A special talk presented by Corinna Noelke, Executive Director, Green Mountain Education Consortium and David Provost, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer, Middlebury College

The Green Mountain Education Consortium (GMHEC) is a collaborative endeavor of three Vermont Colleges: Champlain College, Middlebury College and Saint Michael’s College, formed in 2013.

Hear from consortium leaders how they have managed to create greater efficiencies, while reducing costs and increasing value to their member institutions. Enjoy a mix of case study presentation, breakout work and full group conversation as we explore this model's the potential for independent schools.

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Retreat Reflections and Farewell

11:30 a.m. EST

Join us for an open mic of sorts, sharing retreat highlights and personal commitments. Enjoy the opportunity to win special farewell raffle giveaways.

Participating Peer Heads of School

  • Melissa Earls, Academy Hill School
  • Nicole DuFauchard, The Advent School
  • Trey Cassidy, Bancroft School
  • Cindy Laba, Beacon Academy
  • Brendan Largay, Belmont Day School
  • Jenifer Fox, Berkshire Country Day School
  • Jim Hamilton, Berwick Academy
  • Grace Cotter Regan, Boston College High School
  • Judith Guild, Brimmer and May School
  • David Tierney, Cambridge Friends School
  • Lise Charlier, The Cambridge School of Weston
  • Louise Kellogg, Campus School at Smith College
  • Lance Conrad, Chapel Hill - Chauncy Hall School
  • Gretchen Larkin, Charles River School
  • Tamara Schurdak, The Chestnut Hill School
  • Katherine Bradley, Dana Hall School
  • Allison Webster, Dedham Country Day School
  • Mary Carter, The Derryfield School
  • Todd Vincent, Dexter Southfield School
  • Jadi Taveras, Esperanza Academy
  • Rob Gustavson, Fay School
  • Kimberly Ridley, Fayerweather Street School
  • Derek Boonisar, The Fenn School
  • Gretchen Forsyth, Glen Urquhart School
  • Noni Thomas López, Gordon School
  • Paul Horovitz, Harborlight Montessori School
  • Phil Peck, Holderness School
  • Donna Milani Luther, Inly School
  • Richard Ulffers, International School of Boston
  • Andrea Katzman, Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island
  • Steve Farley, Kingsley Montessori School
  • Deanne Benson, Lesley Ellis School
  • Christine Metzger, Lexington Christian Academy
  • Aline Gery, Lexington Montessori School
  • Scott Mattoon, Maimonides School
  • arvind grover, The Meadowbrook School of Weston
  • Matt Glendinning, Moses Brown School
  • Jay Scheurle, Oak Meadow School
  • Ashley Marshall, Pike School
  • Tim Johnson, Pingree School
  • Timothy Powers, Pinkerton Academy
  • Emily Jones, The Putney School
  • Adam Fischer, The Rashi School
  • Whitney Slade, Riverbend School
  • Diane Rich, Rocky Hill Country Day School
  • Marie Leary, The Sage School
  • Mark Stanek, Shady Hill School
  • Clair Ward, Shore Country Day School
  • Jennifer Borman, School One
  • Stephanie Luebbers, Stoneleigh-Burnham School
  • Will Crissman, Tenacre Country Day School
  • Carrie Brennan, Thetford Academy
  • Serena Wilkie Gifford, Tower School
  • Jennifer Zaccara, Vermont Academy
  • Antonio Viva, Walnut Hill School for the Arts
  • Timothy Bakland, Waring School
  • Geoff Wagg, Waynflete School
  • Beth Black, Wellan Montessori School
  • Allison Gaines Pell, The Wheeler School
  • Sarah Pelmas, The Winsor School
  • Patrick McInerney, Wolfeboro Camp School
  • Renee DuChainey-Farkes, The Woodward School for Girls

Thank You to AISNE's Generous Supporters

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