Thrive as an Adaptive Leader

Reflect and renew on Cape Cod with peer heads of school from across New England. Immerse yourself in deep thinking about the opportunities front and center for you as a leader, as well as for your school, during these times of disruption and evolution.

Enjoy moments of mindfulness, relaxation and fellowship, integrated across this multi-day experience. Invest in yourself, your school and the AISNE community, through your participation in this meaningful program.

Monday, January 28

Pre-Retreat Networking Activity (Optional)

Cape Cod Dinner Outing

Pre-Registration Required: $30 per person
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. at The Beacon Room, Orleans, MA

Make the most of your early arrival in Brewster by enjoying an informal, delicious meal together with your peers and members of the AISNE team.

Tuesday, January 29

Pre-Retreat Meetings

AISNE Board Meeting

Meeting: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Lunch: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

AISNE First Time Heads Series: Part Two

First Year Priorities: Collaborate with Peers in the Same Boat
Pre-Registration Required
Facilitated by Becky Biggs, AISNE and Bruce Shaw, Bruce A Shaw Consulting
Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Lunch: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

We were able to connect with most of you as we planned for this meeting. Thank you! Across our many conversations, a common theme emerged: you want to share generously and openly with your peers who are going through this odd and wonderful first-year head experience. So we have designed the morning to allow for as much free exchange of milestones, missteps, and mysteries. Then, we'll brainstorm a few topics that may want closer consideration, such as board management, administrative team changes, parent involvement. You may then choose whatever topic interests you most and spend 45 minutes discussing that in depth with your colleagues. We'll end the session with lunch and a wrap-up conversation. Looking forward to seeing you!

Pre-Retreat Networking Activity (Optional)

Cape Cod Excursion

Enjoy visiting local galleries and artist workshops, and getting lunch at a local bakery. This outing is intended for retreat participants who are not attending the Board Meeting or First-Time Heads Program and will be on-site on Tuesday morning and would like to do something fun with fellow heads.

Pre-Registration Required
Outing: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Lunch: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

All Hands on Deck

Retreat Registration

1:00 - 2:00 p.m.


Claire Leheny, Executive Director, AISNE
2:00 p.m.


Leaders That Thrive: Chart Your Course for Success
Facilitated by Stephanie Rogen and Sarah Goldin, Greenwich Leadership Partners
2:15 - 4:45 p.m.

As the work of headship becomes increasingly complex, you are asked as a leader to be more creative, strategic, and courageous than ever. Sustaining, adapting, and expanding your capacity to lead with vision takes time, reflection, and intention.

Use this working session as an opportunity to reflect on your leadership, your vision for your work, and your vision for your school as a whole. During this time, you'll have opportunity to develop strategies, practice peer coaching, and create a roadmap for your work ahead.

This session draws on the principles outlines in Stephanie’s forward-thinking book, Creating Schools That Thrive, to explore your personal leadership as well as the strategic priorities of your school, through new lenses.

Carry on your conversations into our evening cocktail reception and dinner.


4:45 - 5:00 p.m.

AISNE'S Annual Meeting of the Association

Claire Leheny, Executive Director, AISNE
Mark Stanek, Board Chair, AISNE
5:00 - 5:45 p.m.

Hear about the progress and health of our thriving association! Learn about the critical developments undertaken this past year, to set AISNE on a course for vibrant growth and success.

Cocktail Reception

6:15 - 7:00 p.m.

Networking Dinner

7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 30

Set Sail for the Day (Optional)


Pre-Registration Required: 12 spots available
7:00 - 8:00 a.m.

Start the day invigorated and renewed. Find center in our morning yoga program.

Anchors Aweigh (Retreat Day Two)

Networking Breakfast

8:00 - 8:45 a.m.

Welcome Back

Claire Leheny, Executive Director, AISNE
8:45 a.m.

Morning Keynote

A Rising Tide: Embrace the Changing Times
Presented by Roger Brown, President, Berklee
8:50 - 9:50 a.m.

Hear about Roger’s first-hand experience leading Berklee through times of dramatic change and transformation within music and arts education. Follow his journey harnessing new forms of adaptability, responsiveness and creativity, in order to take significant changes head on and pivot in strategic ways, to advance the growth and success of his school.

Be inspired by Berklee’s significant progress and achievements to:

  • Create the world’s largest online music education system
  • Merge with Boston Conservatory to achieve a new level of comprehensive, interdisciplinary training for music, dance, theater and related vocations
  • Expand scholarship support by over 600%
  • and much more

Adapt to Thrive: Breakout Conversations

10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Choose One:

Making the Call: Leading Change Where Change is Needed
Facilitated by Gretchen Larkin, Head, Charles River School

Being head often means making the tough call, while keeping true to the soul of your school. Join Gretchen Larkin for a candid conversation about the transition to headship and the process of applying your own leadership style and experiences to the circumstances you inherit within your community.

Reflect on assessing situations, examining historical trends and data, and being inclusive. Trade ideas about making and standing by tough calls for the good of your school, while also nurturing spirits and morale, and building community.

Moving Beyond Advanced Placement While Progressing the Independent School Mission
Facilitated by Suzanne Fogarty, Head, Lincoln School

Discuss how discontinuing Advanced Placement allows independent schools to return to their missions of leading educational innovation in a rapidly changing world. Suzanne will share Lincoln’s decision to discontinue Advanced Placement at Lincoln School in the fall of 2017. She'll also compare and contrast her experience making this same decision at Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn in 2011. Topics will include the research leading up to this change and considerations for communicating this change to your community. You'll also see a sample curriculum innovation timeline and new class schedule.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Leading in Today's Political Climate
Facilitated by Mark Stanek, Head, Shady Hill School

Heads are leading in unprecedented times with increased gun violence in schools, government targeting of underrepresented groups and #METOO. How do we lead and navigate in a world of unexpected crises and help parents navigate these issues with their children? Come share your thoughts about leading the work of equity and inclusion while re-affirming your school’s mission and values.

Faculty and Staff Development Through Innovative Approaches to Professional Growth, Supervision and Evaluation
Facilitated by Geoff Wagg, Head, Waynflete School

Look at professional growth, supervision and evaluation of your faculty and staff in different ways. Geoff will discuss Faculty Families and the role they have played at Waynflete School. He will highlight interesting observations and trends applicable to many while also speaking about details specific to the faculty and staff at his own school.


11:00 - 11:15 a.m.

Adapt to Thrive: Breakout Conversations

Choose One:

Achieve a Truly Emotionally Healthy School
Facilitated by Debbie Offner, PhD

Today's schools face dramatic challenges to student (and faculty) emotional wellbeing in a national climate of high anxiety and rapidly shifting social and economic parameters. Drawing on her experience as both school administrator and clinical psychologist, Debbie will share her advice and "lessons learned" regarding what it takes to keep your students (and faculty) emotionally healthy. She will discuss "best practices" that will help you avert crises and ensure members of your community are available to learn and grow. Finally, Debbie will offer tips re: your own self-care while running your school!

The Shifting Paradigm: What to Expect from your Admissions and Communications Leaders for Peak Performance and Enrollment Growth
Facilitated by Maria LaTour Kadison

Heads face an unprecedented amount of pressure to build enrollment. The head’s success depends on the individual effectiveness of the directors of admission and communications as well as the quality of their collaboration. Skills that were once revered in admissions directors are now far from sufficient. Subsuming the communications function under either admission or advancement does justice to neither. This session will provide clear guidance on the new best-practice roles, responsibilities, and critical skills required for both functions. We will also discuss specific performance evaluation metrics to manage both admissions and communications directors for peak performance and enrollment growth. The session will be strategic and immediately actionable.

Adapt, Respond and Create: Educating Students in a Technologically-Mediated Economy; Promoting Affordability and Access; and Leading in a Post #MeToo World
Facilitated by Roger Brown

With change all around us, being adaptable, responsive and creative are more important than ever. Focus on three key areas of change: educating students in a technologically-mediated world, affordability and access, and the moral imperative of leading in a post-#MeToo world.

Leaders Who Thrive - An Essential Condition for School Success
Facilitated by Stephanie Rogen

Continue our work from Tuesday's workshop by exploring tools and guided exercises you may bring back to your school and your leadership team. Take advantage of the opportunity to begin this work with a small group of like-minded peers.

  • How do we develop our skills and capacities in order to best support our schools? What goals do we have for our own leadership?
  • What do you struggle with in developing your own capacity to execute? The capacity of your team?
  • What supports / structures do you need in order to reflect upon and advance your own development as a leader?

Other Key Questions We'll Explore Together:

  • What are the big existential questions with which you are faced? What are the big dilemmas that keep you up at night?
  • How do you best develop your own skills, capacities in order to best support your team and school?
  • What do you struggle within developing your own capacity to execute? The capacity of your team?
  • How can you best unleash your leadership team in their ability to manage other teams?

Reflections & Key Takeaways
12:15 - 1:00 p.m.

Enjoy one last meal in Brewster, reflecting on your thoughts and conversations across the span of this year’s retreat. Celebrate new relationships and friendships formed over our time together on Cape Cod.


1:00 p.m.

Who's Attending

Thank you to our Platinum Sponsor: