Independent Schools Association of the Southwest

Education News


Congratulations to Good Shepherd Episcopal School on their recognition in the NBOA Innovation Award program!

By Jeffrey Shields, NBOA (from February 9, 2021)
I am excited to announce, for the first time, the recipients of the Jeffrey Shields Award for Innovation Excellence in School Business Operations, as selected by the NBOA Awards Selection Committee. Schools honored with this award have "shaken up" their organizations and disrupted the status quo by implementing new ideas and transforming organizational culture. 
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Why parents should brace themselves for another uncertain summer and fall

By Elissa Strauss, CNN (from January 30, 2021)
I remember the talk among parents on my son's last day of in-person school since the pandemic began. Back in March, some of them didn't believe it might be three whole weeks until our kids could return to school here in Oakland, California.
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Embracing Discomfort and Well-Being

By Greg Bamford, Leadership+Design
I've been wrestling with the paradox that schools resist needed change because it makes adults uncomfortable, while simultaneously being so bad at fostering cultures that nurture adult well-being.  We skip meals and exercise regimens. We spend long hours engaging in activities with students after the school day has ended. One teacher comes to work and brags to another, "I didn't even get to shower all weekend!" The educators who do so are often praised and held up as models for others.
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A Fuller Picture of What a 'Good' School Is

By Youki Terada, Edutopia (from January 29, 2021)
Test scores are often touted as an objective way to measure how good a school is. And while this is true to a degree, they don't tell the whole story. For students who come from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds, schools that emphasize the social and emotional dimensions of learning—relationship-building, a sense of belonging, and grit, for example—may do a better job of improving long-term outcomes than schools that focus solely on high test scores.
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Avoiding Racial Equity Detours

By Paul Gorski, EdChange (from April 2019)
In schools committed to racial equity, educators who resist anti-racist measures should feel uneasy, isolated on the outskirts of their schools' institutional cultures. I mean this literally. The educators least invested in racial equity should wonder whether they belong.
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Building a Culture that Respects Teachers and Reduces Stress

By Sarah Gonser, Edutopia (from February 5, 2021)
School leaders play a pivotal role in building a strong school culture and cultivating a collective sense of agency among teachers; the belief that "together, they can help students succeed" is a critical part of that, write Bryan Goodwin and Susan Shebby for ASCD's Educational Leadership.
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The Mystery of Trust

By Amanda Ripley, Comment (from January 12, 2021)
When Michael Jarnevic enlisted in the Marine Corps as a skinny, seventeen-year-old kid, it was a countercultural decision. It was 1973, and a low point for the US military, which was trying to extract itself from the war in Vietnam. His boss at the store where he worked bagging groceries told him it was a terrible idea. So did his friends.
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Learning Pods Show Their Cracks

By Ronda Kaysen, The New York Times (from December 22, 2020)
This past summer, Emily Brady thought she had solved the puzzle of remote learning. Rather than send her 5-year-old to virtual kindergarten, she would set up a Spanish immersion forest school for a few children, hire a teacher and run the idyllic program from the cottage behind her house in Oakland, Calif.
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Long ignored, private online schools see golden opportunity in pandemic

By Avi Wolfman-Arent, WHYY (from December 25, 2020)
As she entered her senior year this fall, Kayla Shenk felt ready for a change.  She adored the small Quaker school she'd attended since 6th grade. But because of its size, the school didn't offer all of the advanced science courses she wanted to take as she prepared for college.
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Rethinking Homework for This Year—and Beyond

By Mary Davenport, Edutopia (from December 16, 2020)
I used to pride myself on my high expectations, including my firm commitment to accountability for regular homework completion among my students. But the trauma of Covid-19 has prompted me to both reflect and adapt. Now when I think about the purpose and practice of homework, two key concepts guide me: depth over breadth, and student well-being.
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Strategy Now Focuses on Change

By Grant Lichtman (from January 5, 2021)
Change, not stability, are the key drivers for most organizations today, and that was true even before the triple tectonic shifts of 2020: pandemic, economic disruption, and acceleration of the long battle against social injustice.
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The COVID-19 Vaccine: Guidance for Independent Schools

By Caryn G. Pass, Grace H. Lee, Janice P. Gregerson & Ashley E. Sykes
Venable LLP (from January 6, 2021)
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published new guidance aimed at helping employers, like independent schools, tackle the wave of inquiries and issues that will arise once vaccinations become widely available. In short, the EEOC's new guidance says yes, schools can mandate that their employees be vaccinated, subject to some potential exceptions relating to compliance with disability and religious antidiscrimination and accommodation laws.
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NAIS Staff Predictions for the Future of Independent Schools

NAIS (from January 5, 2021)
Now that 2020 is behind us, we look forward to this year with optimism and hope. But with the pandemic still raging, it's important to reflect on what it's taught us, and how our world will permanently change. The way we think about hygiene—handwashing, touching our faces, and handshakes—will likely be here to stay. Online shopping was already dominating retail, and it will continue at an accelerated pace. More businesses will downsize or eliminate office space, and many employees will become full-time teleworkers. We'll also surely see a rethinking of business travel, and large-scale events will increasingly become more hybrid in nature. What about the world of independent schools? Will we see major changes? A handful of NAIS staff members pondered this and in the spirit of looking ahead to the new year and beyond, shared some thoughts and predictions.
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The Reckoning Begins

By Ian Symonds (from January 6, 2021)
Educators and economists alike have been predicting a reset of education for years. They have warned that the occurrence of one or two catastrophic events could reshape the entire education landscape. They have argued that tuition was too high, expense structures were too bloated, and private schools and colleges were not centered on the needs of the market, just the needs of a minority.
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Embrace your blind spots: Making independent school fundraising events more inclusive

By Sarah Manes, EAB (from November 16, 2020)
In the wake of increased demands for racial justice, many independent schools are examining their blind spots and how they are hindering their ability to create inclusive communities. One office ripe for these conversations is advancement, with its alumni and fundraising-related practices often steeped in years of tradition, and often disconnected from new paradigms. In acknowledging where their 'view is obstructed', advancement teams can then start to take bold new steps to craft events that are mission-aligned and inclusive for all.
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AAP: Wear face coverings during most sports

By Melissa Jenco, AAP News (from December 4, 2020)
Children participating in most sports during the COVID-19 pandemic should wear cloth face coverings, according to updated AAP interim guidance.  The AAP's updated guidance also provides more details on a gradual return to sports for athletes recovering from COVID-19.
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Higher Ed Faces a Long and Uneven Recovery, Ratings Agencies Warn

By Scott Carlson, The Chronicle of Higher Education (from December 8, 2020)
Two financial outlooks for higher ed appeared on Tuesday, and their most compelling parts were the longer-term prospects for the nation's colleges and universities — because the near-term picture should be clear to nearly everyone by now. It's not good.
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Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Independent School Students' Learning Growth

By The ERB Achievement Team
In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools across the country to close their campuses, there has been deep concern about the impact on student learning. In recent weeks, suspicions about the impact of last spring's school disruption have been confirmed with data from national testing programs. Those data show that student learning has regressed, particularly in math, with students anywhere from one to five months behind where they are expected to be for the grade they entered in September. Even more concerning, teachers report not being able to maintain contact with some students who have little or no access to computers and the internet.
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Purdue Made It Through the Fall. Does That Mean Mitch Daniels Was Right?

By Erik Kelderman, The Chronicle of Higher Education (from December 10, 2020)
In May, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. proclaimed confidently that Purdue University had an institutional duty and sufficient scientific evidence to reopen for in-person courses in the fall. Students want to be there, Purdue's president argued in a column for The Washington Post, and the risk of serious illness to students from Covid-19 was extremely small.
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Three D.C. area private school leagues scuttle plans to begin sports in January

By Michael Errigo, The Washington Post (from December 11, 2020)
Three of the Washington area's largest private school athletic conferences announced Friday that they will not hold a winter sports season in January.  The Independent School League and the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference released similar statements saying they will not provide league-sanctioned competition at all this winter, while the Interstate Athletic Conference said it will not begin league competition in January as proposed and will "reassess conditions in the new year."
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Preparing for the Unknowns of Spring and Beyond

By Claire Wescott, Independent Ideas (from November 10, 2020)
Optimistic and terrified. Energized and exhausted. Anchored and unsettled. Many of us hold sets of emotions like these right now. Both feel true. Both feel contradictory.  These are a handful of the emotions described by independent school leaders during a recent workshop collaboration with the K12 Lab at Stanford University's These emotions surfaced as part of an activity led by Lisa Kay Solomon, designer in residence at the Solomon held up a Post-it note to her Zoom camera and introduced participants to Vent Diagrams, which map two emotions or statements that appear to be both true and contradictory. They look just like their namesake Venn Diagrams, which map relationships between two concepts, except in this case, each circle holds an emotion or statement. Solomon then asked participants to create their own Vent Diagrams. Through the Zoom gallery view, there was a collective sense of unburdening among the 75 participating independent school leaders and community members as they identified their own contradictory emotions.
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Value, Price, and the Emerging Market

By Donna Orem, Independent Ideas (from November 17, 2020)
In 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers released a report outlining five major global challenges, which it dubbed the ADAPT framework, aptly named for the posture most organizations will need to take in a changing landscape. Each of the challenges, described below, has accelerated in some way because of the pandemic and will affect the context in which independent schools operate.
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Why Tomorrow's Leaders Need to Be Part of Diverse Student Teams Today

Featuring Deborah D. Hazzard & Catherine Peyrols Wu, HBP Educaiton
(from October 20, 2020)
Recent civil unrest has exposed serious divisions in our social fabric globally. Success for individuals, companies, and society at large depends on finding ways for diverse groups of people to work well together, no matter what differences they may have.
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When nothing is normal: Managing in extreme uncertainty

By Patrick Finn, Mihir Mysore, & Ophelia Usher, McKinsey & Co. (from November 2, 2020)
In normal times organizations face numerous uncertainties of varying consequence. Managers deal with challenges by relying on established structures and processes. These are designed to reduce uncertainty and support calculated bets to manage the residual risks. In a serious crisis, however, uncertainty can reach extreme levels, and the normal way of working becomes overstrained. At such times traditional management operating models rarely prove adequate, and organizations with inadequate processes can quickly find themselves facing existential threats.
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How to Build a Resilient School Community

By Phyllis Fagell, AMLE
Right before my son started college, the dean, Kathryn Lively, shared a story with the first-year students. A few years earlier, she had attended a silent meditation retreat where one of the other participants was continuously disruptive. Lively was angry and told the retreat host that the woman was ruining her experience. The host "nodded the way wise people do and walked me back to my mat, then said, Kathryn, she is your experience," she recalled. At the time, she had no idea what he meant. In retrospect, she realized that the lesson was exactly what he had said. She wasn't getting the experience she wanted, which was to sit in silence. The experience she got, however, was "learning to make peace with unmet expectations and to take the lesson that it's always up to me."
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