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News & Press: General Articles

From SAIS President Debra Wilson - February 2020

Wednesday, February 12, 2020  
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Hello Friends!

It is hard to believe that we are already at the heart of February when it seems we were just on the verge of winter break. I trust that many of you are looking forward to a long President’s Day weekend for a little bit of a breather before plunging into this stretch before spring break.

As February is Black History Month, your school may be doing more focused diversity work right now. This year offers new resources for educators with the New York Times' 1619 project, marking the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of enslaved Africans to the United States, although the conversation around this anniversary itself creates its own history lesson. The movie Harriet, released this past October also provides a rich opportunity for deeper conversations around a key historic figure. We just watched it this weekend as a family. It is now available for rent on streaming services but do be aware of the PG13 rating. For schools looking for additional resources, the following links below may be helpful:

Beyond celebrating Black History Month, many schools are looking for ways to improve diversity. This resource page as well as this research paper from NAIS might be helpful. This NetAssets article explores the benefits that a greater diversity of experiences, perspectives, and ideas can bring to a school community. Do you have helpful resources to share with other schools? We would love to know about them. Please email me directly at

This time of year also brings focus onto hiring and enrollment cycles for next year. You can now find the long-promised benefits report from the survey that many of you participated in earlier this fall. Ari Betof did the heavy data lifting for us to help pull together a comprehensive overview of what we learned as well as helpful questions for you and your team to review as you consider your own benefits in the greater landscape. Jeff Mitchell, head of school at Currey Ingram Academy, has added some additional color to this piece by providing a window into faculty salary trends over time, as well as trends related to overall compensation packages. As many schools are preparing employment letters for next year, we hope you find these insights timely.

For those who are looking at their employment agreements for the next academic year, these pieces might be helpful:

Enrollment contracts are coming out soon, too. For more information on those, try this resource from NBOA. Looking to ensure that bias is not affecting your process? This podcast from EMA might help. SAIS also did a brief survey on this topic two years ago. And, finally, one specifically on re-enrollment from NetAssets magazine.

We also have a recording of a webinar on working with transgender students in independent schools from earlier this week. Jack Hall and his team from The Walker School provided great insight into the school’s journey working with its first transgender student. For schools just starting to consider this work, know that transgender students are potentially close to two-percent of the student population, and among the most vulnerable students. The work we do to support them is fundamental to their well-being. The webinar offers exceptional tips on working with board members, staff, and families on this crucial topic. For more resources, Gender Spectrum has some great ones designed specifically for schools.

Last week, SAIS co-hosted the Independent School Coronavirus Response webinar with EMA, NAIS, NBOA, and TABS. The webinar had almost 800 participants. Speakers discussed the medical issues and steps your school can take, liability and visa concerns, and communicating with your community. You may find find a link to the recording along with additional resources here.

As always, if the SAIS team can do anything at all to support you, please just let us know.

Debra Wilson
SAIS President

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Institute for Heads
June 23-26 | Serenbe
Administrative Leadership Institute
June 29-July 1 | Atlanta
Division Heads Conference
June 23-26 | Serenbe

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