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2015 Annual Conference - Attendees
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2015 SAIS Annual Conference


The SAIS Annual Conference draws independent school leaders from throughout the region. Last year, we hosted over 300 heads of school and administrators.  Our registration numbers are tracking much higher this year than in any previous years.  Come join us at this excellent opportunity to network with regional colleagues as we delve into today’s most prevalent independent school topics.


The 2015 SAIS Annual Conference will take place October 17-19, 2015, at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia, 4355 Ashford-Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30346.  Featuring Rick Wormeli, Ian Symmonds, Pat Bassett, and Catherine Steiner-Adair.


Please note that SAIS is not using a housing bureau for room reservations.  Just click on the orange 'hotel' button above to reserve your room at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia or reserve by phone at (800) 554-0055. NOTE:  SAIS nor the hotel will call you and ask you to make reservations over the phone.  If you receive a phone call saying you need to make reservations, it is a scam.  Please make your reservations online using the above link.


  Full conference 
August 4 through September 25      
MEMBER $425 $245 $220
NON-MEMBER $479 $299 $269

September 26 through October 12
MEMBER $450 $265 $240
NON-MEMBER $499 $319 $289

October 13 through on-site
MEMBER $495 $285 $260
NON-MEMBER $529 $339 $309

FEATURED SPEAKERS: Rick Wormeli, Catherine Steiner-Adair, & Ian Symmonds

MONDAY KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  Rick Wormeli {sponsored by TADS}

Our keynote speaker for 2015 is Rick Wormeli (on Twitter @RickWormeli). One of the first Nationally Board Certified teachers in America, Rick brings innovation, energy, validity, and high standards to both his presentations and his instructional practice, which includes 33 years teaching math, science, English, physical education, health, and history as well as coaching teachers and principals. Rick’s work has been reported in numerous media outlets, including ABC’s Good Morning America, Hardball with Chris MatthewsNational Geographic, Good Housekeeping, and The Washington Post. He is also the author of award-winning book Meet Me in the Middle as well as various other books. His most recent book is The Collected Writings (So Far) of Rick Wormeli: Crazy Good Stuff I Learned About Teaching Along the Way. His classroom practice is a showcase for ASCD's best-selling series, At Work in the Differentiated Classroom.

With his sense of humor and unconventional approaches, he is a frequent and popular presenter to school leaders both in the U.S. and internationally. He was the recipient of Disney’s American Teacher Awards 1996 Outstanding English Teacher of the Nation. He also won the 2008 James P. Garvin award from the New England League of Middle Schools for Teaching Excellence, Service, and Leadership. Additionally, he has consulted for National Public Radio, USA Today, Court TV, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural Partners Program and their search for the Giant Squid. He lives in Herndon, VA, with his wife and two children, who are both now in college. He is currently working on his first young adult fiction novel and a new book on homework practices in the 21st century.

SUNDAY KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  Ian Symmonds {sponsored by Carney, Sandoe & Associates}

Thought-leader, strategist, author, speaker, and consultant - these are just a few of the roles that Ian Symmonds enjoys. Ian is the visionary president and founder of Ian Symmonds & Associates Inc. Over the past decade, Ian has served over 160 independent schools, colleges, universities, and non-profit organizations through enrollment, marketing, branding, and strategy counsel. Long before a consultant, however, Ian was a practitioner. His professional practice as a senior officer, executive director, and dean spans nearly two decades including Pacific University, Culver-Stockton College, Saint Mary's Hall, and Trinity University. He is one of the few highly successful enrollment and marketing professionals in the nation experienced in recruiting and retaining independent school students, traditional undergraduates, and graduate and adult students. He led dramatic enrollment turnarounds for three different private institutions during this career. Ian has published in numerous professional journals, such as the Journal of College Admission (NACAC) and On Target (College Board), and has presented at just about every national and regional conferences. He holds a BS and MS degree from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. He is in high demand as a conference speaker at regional and national venues. Ian consults on several projects each quarter, speaks and writes frequently on behalf of ISA, and also manages the overall ISA brand and company. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Lisa, daughters Makayla and Jules, and Rajah and Rhani, his loving and irreverent labs. In his spare time, he is an avid tournament tennis player and enjoys exploring the beauty of the Northwest.

MONDAY FEATURED TRACK:  Catherine Steiner-Adair {sponsored by Follett}

In her book, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age (HarperCollins), Dr. Steiner-Adair examines ways in which technology and media change how children learn and grow, and shows parents how to balance the benefits of tech while reducing the risks it poses at every stage of development. She identifies digital age challenges for parents and educators, and ways to strengthen children’s social and emotional development to help them grow to be responsible, resilient, confident, and capable young adults. A leading expert specializing in child development, education, family relationships, and workplace/family balance, she speaks and consults on a wide range of topics, including social and emotional literacy, nourishing healthy relationships in the digital age, and developing a thoughtful approach to technology in school and life. Also author of a popular school-based girls leadership program, Steiner-Adair shows how to deconstruct the unhealthy cultural messages that make girls vulnerable to eating disorders. She speaks worldwide to numerous audiences, including educators, health professionals, PTAs, camps and religious groups, corporations, and nonprofit organizations.


Tweet us @SAISnews! The official Twitter hashtag for the conference is #saisAC. Please tag us when tweeting your conference experience.


2015 SAIS Annual Conference Sponsors




  • 2016: October 22-24


Click here for information about previous conferences, including keynote speakers, dates, and locations.


  • Best value for the dollar.  Great job!
  • I learned, once again, that there are both others out there experiencing and striving for the same things I am, and that there are others finding the same frustrations I am. This is good to know.
  • The most important thing about the conference was the opportunity to network with administrators from schools whose demographics were similar to our own. The conference schedule allowed for a great deal of such interactions that were very useful to me.
  • I was able to attend sessions that filled in gaps in my experience as an educator.
  • I was happy to make new connections this year, and I also appreciated the collaborative format in the workshops. Clearly much time was spent working with the presenters in advance. SAIS just keeps getting better and better.
  • Excellent presenters, with pertinent content, strategies, and ideas that can easily be used upon returning to my school.
  • This was my first visit to the conference and I gained so much that I definitely plan on returning next year.
  • With economic issues, I only attend one conference a year and I always select the SAIS Annual Conference.
  • Great content, well executed, up to usual SAIS standards.
  • The conference is excellent and a great value.  It is amazing how SAIS provides all this for the price!


2015 SAIS Board/Head Retreat


The 2015 SAIS Board/Head Retreat is an excellent opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the head and the board. Participation in this retreat is limited to heads of school and board members. It will take place on Saturday, October 17, from 10:00 AM-4:00 PM at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia, 4355 Ashford-Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30346. More information may be found at

2015 BHR FACILITATOR: Pat Bassett

Prior to co-founding Heads Up Educational Consulting in 2013, a consulting firm that provides strategic, operational, governance, and programmatic guidance and consultation to educational enterprises, Patrick F. Bassett spent his entire career in education.

He began in 1970 as a teacher in an independent school, then subsequently becoming the head of two independent schools, followed by assuming the role of president of ISACS, a regional association of independent schools, on his professional path that ultimately led in August 2001to appointment as the president of the National Association of Independent Schools. NAIS, a membership organization for approximately 2000 independent (private) schools and associations of schools in the U.S. and abroad, is the “national voice for independent schools and the center for collective action on their behalf,” providing advocacy for independent K-12 college-prep education, research and trend analysis, leadership and governance guidance, and professional development opportunities for school and board leaders. He retired from NAIS in June of 2013, and became co-founder and senior consultant of Heads Up Educational Consulting. In that role, he continues to lead workshops, give keynote address, facilitate strategic planning and executive searches, and train boards, school leaders, and faculty on what constitute great schools, great teachers, and great leaders.

Bassett began his career in independent schools in 1970 as an English teacher, lacrosse coach, and dorm parent at Woodberry Forest School (VA), an all-boys boarding school. In 1980, he became head of an all-girls school, Stuart Hall (VA), where he remained until 1989, when he was appointed head of school at Pomfret School (CT). From 1993-2001, Bassett was the president of the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS). He is an adjunct faculty member of Teachers College, Columbia University.

Bassett has served on the board as a trustee of NAIS (1985-1989), The Multicultural Alliance (1994-2000), The Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education (CSEE 1996-2013), The Council for American Private Education (CAPE 2001-2013), and the National Network of Schools in Partnership (NNSP, a public/private school consortium, 2012-2014). He currently serves on the board of trustees of his alma mater, Williams College (MA), United Educators (a school and university risk management insurance company), Finalsite (a website & mobile technologies company), Woodberry Forest School (VA), the Benedict Foundation (whose mission is to support successful but smaller or challenged independent schools), and Noodle (a high-tech, web-based online service to help families match a student’s need with the right school or college).

Professional recognition has included being named a Kellogg National Leadership Fellow in 1986; a recipient of the Educational Leadership Award in 2000 by The Klingenstein Center of Teachers College (Columbia University) and global leadership awards from The European Council for International Schools (ECIS), from the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA), and from NAIS.

A Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Williams College (’70) where he was captain of the lacrosse team, Bassett also holds a master's degree in film studies from Northwestern University (’73). He and his wife, Barbara, have two grown daughters and two grandchildren living in Boulder, CO.

Calendar more
Board/Head Retreat
October 22, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
This retreat offers an excellent opportunity to strengthen the communication and partnership between heads and board members.

Annual Conference
October 22-24 | Atlanta, GA
Join us to network with regional colleagues as we delve into relevant independent school issues.

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