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Record Attendance, Outstanding Sessions at SAIS Annual Conference

Wednesday, November 1, 2017  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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SAIS welcomed nearly 500 attendees, speakers and exhibitors to Atlanta for the 2017 SAIS Annual Conference, held October 22-24. With topics ranging from finding balance and women in leadership to 21st century technology and faith in schools, SAIS offered two keynote addresses, two general sessions, six roundtables, and 32 breakout sessions for school leaders.

The sessions included “Leading from the Middle,” “The Art of Buy-in: Intentional Culture Creation,” “How to Win Students and Influence Parents,” and “Religion and Spirituality: Opportunities and Obstacles to Inclusion.” In a new event, seven school heads led a general session entitled “Finding Balance,” which everyone agreed is an ongoing challenge.

“When I got into leadership, I thought it was my job to solve everyone’s problems,” said Josh Clark, head of The Schenck School in Atlanta. “Now I strive to create context where other people flourish.”

Dr. Jeff Mitchell, head of Currey Ingram Academy in Brentwood, TN, recommended regularly getting away from school life. “Have friends who do not care that you are a head of school,” he said. “And challenge your brain in ways different from what you do at work.”

Comments from keynote speaker Dr. Johnnetta Cole also rang true for many veteran educators. In “Lessons from My Journey,” she shared stories from her own time as a student as well as more current experience. “Competition has its place in certain endeavors but it is the team that works together that in the long run will be the winner,” she said. “The preparation of tomorrow’s leaders must include students working collaboratively.”

Keynote speaker Alan November talked about “The Added Value of a Teacher in the Age of the Internet.” When kids can Google anything, why do they need teachers? It’s not that easy, November noted. For one, Google is a biased search tool, “designed to give you the information it thinks you want, not a global perspective,” November said.

Teachers today must help students learn how to navigate myriad information sources, often at the same time they are learning the architecture of Internet-based sources themselves. November also encouraged teachers to involve students in the learning process. “The spoon-feeding of problems to students has to stop,” he said. “Don’t just ‘solve for x.’ Involve students and they become the problem designers who can demonstrate how they learn, not just what they have learned.”

SAIS was honored to welcome NAIS President Donna Orem, who spoke at Monday’s luncheon. SAIS also recognized Sarah Whiteside, head of The Altamont School in Birmingham, AL, with the SAIS Distinguished Service Award. SAIS trustees reported on various programs and activities within the association, and welcomed three new members to the board: DuBose Egleston, Dr. Jeff Mitchell, and Scott Wilson.

In 2018, the SAIS Annual Conference will be held in Charleston, SC, October 14-16. SAIS already is accepting submissions for session proposals at


Videos from the two keynotes and select breakout sessions will be available on Photos and comments are available on Twitter @SAISnews and #saisAC17.

Calendar more
Institute for New Teachers
July 24-26, 2018 | Nashville, TN
Designed to equip new teachers with the skills to guide and support their first years in the classroom.

Board/Head Retreat
October 14, 2018 | Charleston, SC
Designed to strengthen the communication and partnership between the head of school and members of the board.

All Events

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