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From SAIS President Debra Wilson - October 2020

Tuesday, October 6, 2020  
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Debra Wilson
SAIS President

Hello Friends!

Every year I have a rather juvenile personal debate about fall and spring, and which is my favorite season. As a New Englander, fall tended to win out every time. As an adoptee of the South Carolina Low Country, well spring does not get much more glorious than in Charleston. That being said, this year fall is winning even here in South Carolina. While none of us would proclaim our current status as “normal,” I do now experience windows of actually being in the house by myself, albeit with the additions of our pandemic puppy and the class pet rabbit.

While many of you likely know that I don’t spend a lot of time reflecting on progress (there are things to do in front of us, after all), I do think it’s important for us to see how far we have progressed over the last four or five months in particular. We have gone from the seemingly impossible task of tackling the logistics of returning to campus, and hoping against hope for three weeks together, to now largely making it to fall break with strong in-person records of various kinds behind us. Beyond the pandemic, some of our schools have experienced two, and soon to be three, hurricanes. Others have continued to be challenged by the work they are doing around diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities.

And yet, we are all making progress. None of this has been easy, and schools have struggled with a range of emotions and reactions from families, staff members, and others. Please do take the time to appreciate the incredible strides you and your teams have taken. Not only have you accomplished incredible things, but you have altered your fundamental approaches to your work. You have expanded your skills, shifted your traditional approaches, raised your engagement, and developed communication styles and processes in an impossibly short period of time.

It is important to take the time to reflect, in part because it will help your team accomplish even greater things in the future. This growth you have experienced should serve your school well, particularly as we start looking to the rest of this academic year and planning for the year ahead. Not only that, but with the challenges in front of us, it is important to gain the confidence of your recent history to overcome these future obstacles together.

To be sure, there are still rapids ahead. When I am writing this letter next month, we will be on the eve of an election like no other. Schools have worked hard to remain neutral grounds for respectful discourse, providing learning opportunities for staff, students, and parents. The flu season is also around the corner, with the peak months being December, January, February, and March. And, there is still the great unknown of the economic recovery. In short, we are not out of the woods yet.

In light of these challenges, we have designed this month’s SAIS Annual Conference with an eye toward the shifts and opportunities ahead. We hope you will take this time to learn with and from your colleagues as we come together as a community to explore the road ahead together by hearing and engaging with great speakers, but also taking the time to reflect together.

In the meantime, as always, if the SAIS team can do anything to support you and your school, we are here for you.




Calendar more
Annual Conference
October 21-23 | Virtual
Various dates & topics
Virtual Roundtables
Held monthly by role
More Events

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