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2019 Annual Conference - Crowne Plaza Ravinia
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Sunday-Tuesday, October 27-29, 2019


Crowne Plaza Ravinia, 4355 Ashford-Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30346

An informative, innovative, and comprehensive opportunity for independent school leaders to gather and discover proven strategies and emerging trends. Join colleagues from across the region to examine hot topics and relevant issues. Attend sessions that enhance your experience, converse with leaders from schools with a similar size and budget, and learn from top-notch speakers

Content will be geared toward heads of school, division heads, deans, directors, and other administrative and aspiring leaders. A variety of sessions will be offered in the areas below (click the track name for a session listing):


Dr. Kathy Pearson is a strategist, systems thinking expert, and authority in decision making. She is president and founder of Enterprise Learning Solutions, a firm focused on executive development and learning across industries. Kathy is an adjunct senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and has served as an adjunct associate professor in the operations and information management department at The Wharton School, both at the University of Pennsylvania. An award-winning educator, Kathy is heavily involved in executive education at The Wharton School, Duke CE, and the Institute for Management Studies, teaching on a variety of topics such as complex decision making, strategic agility, the enterprise mindset, stakeholder management, operational excellence, and strategic execution. As learning integrator for many programs, she is responsible for the design of the academic curriculum, the integration of the material, and the overall educational quality of the program. Kathy currently serves on the board of Summer Search Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization that works with disadvantaged youth to prepare them for college and beyond. She received her B.S. in theoretical mathematics from Auburn University, her M.S. in decision sciences from Georgia State University, and her Ph.D. in industrial engineering (concentration in statistics) from Northwestern University.

KEYNOTE - Tuesday, October 29, 9AM: Managing Uncertainty: Strategic Agility

Today’s business environment is no longer described as “ebb and flow” but rather a permanent “whitewater” condition, particularly for independent schools. This increased speed of change has made traditional strategic planning inadequate. Schools need a more dynamic process. Kathy Pearson will share the business case for strategic agility and provide a pathway to building the capability to be nimble in the strategic planning process.

 BREAKOUT - Tuesday, October 29, 10:30AM: Tools & Actions to Build Strategic Agility: Practical Application

This session describes best practices in building adaptability in the strategic planning process, including key leadership behaviors. Kathy will provide tools to overcome barriers to agility and build the organizational ability to dynamically respond to rapid changes.


Mike Cobb is an international speaker and consultant in school design, change leadership, pedagogical ponderings, innovative practices, and frugal campus development. Mike has served schools for over 25 years as a teacher, coach, division head, admissions director, and head of school. Mike is a 2009 Vanderbilt University Peabody Fellow and he holds an M.Ed. from Cambridge College plus additional degrees from the University of North Texas. With a passion for student engagement and authentic learning, he currently serves as the head of All Saints Episcopal School, a 3K-12 school of 650 in Tyler, TX. The school has received national recognition for innovative learning and leadership with Mike at the helm. All Saints has created renowned, innovative learning spaces and progressive programs that emphasize authentic learning and student agency. The design and implementation of ground-breaking spaces like the Collaboratory, Center for Innovation, Learning Farm, STEM Zone, Outdoor Learning Center, Science Explorium, and more demonstrate the very best of active learning.

KEYNOTE - Sunday, October 27, 5PM: Intentional Innovation: Time, Space, & Talent

To prepare students for a future that is hard to imagine, we must be ready and able to innovate. Having rapidly - and frugally - transformed spaces across his Tyler, Texas, campus, Mike will share insight into leveraging resources to create authentic learning, increase student agency, and empower innovation at your school. He will help attendees formulate the requisite questions that can lead to transformational change and a more meaningful student experience.

 BREAKOUT - Monday, October 28, 9:00AM: Intentional Innovation: I'm Ready, Now What?

This session will detail ways schools can start the process of innovating programs, spaces, and personnel within any budget category. Mike will share examples of the best practices in intentional innovation focusing on the challenges of budgets, culture building, and student/faculty engagement.



Tim Fish is the chief innovation officer at NAIS. Before joining NAIS in 2016, Tim was the associate head of McDonogh School. In his role at NAIS, Tim is leading the strategy lab team in an effort to support strategic progress. This team develops deep partnerships with member schools to co-create tools and frameworks that build capacity for the design and implementation of demand-side innovation. Tim also oversees data, application development, and information technology. He was also the founding president/CEO of FolioCollaborative, a global nonprofit community of more than 175 schools focused on building a flexible faculty/staff development process that is grounded in strong relationships and meaningful conversations. Tim is also the co-author of the book Leadership and Technology at Independent Schools. He started his career as a 4th-grade teacher and has served as a founder, board member, and consultant for a variety of education and technology-related schools, organizations, and companies. He is currently serving on the boards of Viewpoint School, the Enrollment Management Association, and One Schoolhouse as well as chairing FolioCollaborative's board.

SESSION Monday, October 28, 2:30PM: Strategic Momentum: A Key to Sustainability

During the past three years the NAIS Strategy Lab Team has worked with turnaround schools from across the U.S. and Canada. They’ve discovered that success is often tied to a school’s ability to create and sustain strategic momentum. In this interactive session, Tim will deconstruct the components of momentum and provide participants with tools and frameworks to get their schools moving.


Grant Lichtman is an internationally-recognized thought leader on the transformation of K-12 education. He works with school teams to develop a comfort and capacity for change in a rapidly changing world. For almost 15 years, Grant was a trustee and senior administrator at one of the largest independent schools in the United States. Since 2012, Grant has visited more than 125 schools and districts, published three books, written numerous articles, and worked with thousands of school and community stakeholders to develop unique and powerful visions and strategies for transforming education away from the Industrial Age and towards future-focused models of deeper learning.

SESSION - Tuesday, October 29, 10:30AM: How Schools Will Win the Education Revolution

In his new book, Thrive: How Schools Will Win the Education Revolution, Grant drills into key elements that will separate successful from struggling schools in a rapidly-evolving and increasingly competitive and differentiated K-12 marketplace. This session will get straight to the heart of the value-innovation-strategy cycle, the big tools that schools are using to successfully plan and accelerate strategic transformation, and new methods for engaging with and building support from your community. Grant will share resources, examples, and activities that have proven successful in his work with school leaders and boards over the past five years.


9:00 AM
10:45 AM
2:30 PM
4:15 PM 
10:30 AM
12:30 PM 

• Your Community Is Biased: What Are You Doing About It?

• Intentional Innovation: I'm Ready, Now What?

• Vaping, Binging, Baking: Addressing Student Substance Use

• The Road Ahead: Key Trends Impacting Independent Schools

• Orienting New Faculty

• Proving & Disproving Hypotheses About Your School's Image

    • You're Fired: Delivering & Receiving the News

    • Growing Leaders in Our Schools

    • Evolving Legal Trends in Student & Employee Health

    • Changing Admissions & Financial Aid Focus From Student Headcount to Net Tuition Revenue

    • Improving Faculty Morale: Little Things That Make a Big Difference

    • Website Must-Haves: How Not to Accidentally Drive Prospects Away

    • Leading Innovation: The Ongoing Journey of the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC)

    • Engaging Families of Color With Intention

    • Strategic Momentum: A Key to Sustainability

    • Case Studies in Strategic Growth Planning

    • The Hiring Process: From Job Posting to Offer

    • Building Endowment Through Promotion, Fundraising, & Management

    • How Innovative Schools Address Social/Emotional Health & Social Media

    • Marketing From a Millennial Point of View

    • Capitalizing on Neurodiversity in Classrooms

    • Courageous Conversations: A Framework for Communication

    • Learning Demands Flexible & Innovative Spaces

    • Developing Social Media Policies

    • Tips & Tricks for Successful School Visits

    • Alumni Relations 101

    - Pathways to Headship for the Aspiring School Leader

    • The Courage to Converse: From Safe to Brave Spaces

    • Tools & Actions to Build Strategic Agility: Practical Application

    • Essential Questions for Strategic Planning

    • When #MeToo Hits Home: Responding to Student Claims of Abuse

    • Evolving From Admission to Strategic Enrollment Management

    • How Schools Will Win the Education Revolution

    • Illuminate your BEACON: An Assessment Tool for Advancing & Sustaining Your School

    • Protecting School Resources & Information from Cyber Threats

    • The FACTS Solution for Streamlining Operations & Management

    • Utica’s Comprehensive Emergency Preparedness for School Leaders


    • Diversity Panel
    • Upper School
    • Middle School
    • Lower School
    • Small Schools
    • Special Needs Schools
    • Innovation & Maker Spaces
    • Admissions & Enrollment
    • Marketing & Communications



    Member School 



    Through August 16
    $425 $529
    August 17 - September 13
    $475 $579
    September 14 - October 11
    $525 $629
    After October 11
    $625 $729


    The SAIS block is closed. Rooms may still be available at the regular hotel rate. Visit or call (770) 395-7700.

    NOTE: We understand that Convention Planners Housing Corp is contacting conference attendees to solicit their business. SAIS does not utilize the services of a housing vendor for any events. Neither SAIS nor the hotel will call you to make reservations over the phone. Please use the above hotel link to secure your reservation directly with the Crowne Plaza Ravinia.


    • AIRPORT: Hartsfield Jackson International Airport (airport code = ATL)
    • GROUND TRANSPORTATION: Uber/Lyft fares are approximately $36 one way. Cabs are also available to/from the airport ($60 one way).
    • MARTA: The hotel is 1 mile from the Dunwoody MARTA station on the red line ($2.50 one way). To get from the MARTA station to the hotel:
      • Uber/Lyft – $8 estimate
      • Taxi – $6 estimate
      • Hotel Shuttle – Free within a two mile radius
        • When you arrive at the Dunwoody MARTA station, call the hotel at (770) 395-7700 to request the shuttle.
        • The shuttle will pick you up by the elevator on parking level 1.
        • The shuttle operates on a 1st come/1st serve basis and is typically a 5-10 min wait, except between 4-7pm can be 20-25 min due to traffic.


    Thank you to the members of the advisory group for the 2019 AC:

    • Susan Carpenter, Director of Marketing and Communications, Charlotte Latin, NC

    • Scott Goode, High School Principal, The Howard School, GA

    • Scotty Jones, Head of Middle School, McCallie, TN

    • Bill McGee, Head of School, Legacy Christian Academy, TX

    • Marcia Prewitt-Spiller, Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Life, Woodward, GA

    • George Scouten, Head of Upper School, Heathwood Hall, SC
    • Quinton Walker, Head of Upper School, University School of Nashville, TN







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


    • The value for the price is beyond excellent. I heard numerous attendees comment on the quality of programs and benefit of attendance while they were still at the conference - very high praise for the sessions and networking opportunities.
    • Always a great opportunity to meet other heads and network with each other. Great conference!
    • This was really a great conference. I found the vendors open and helpful. The speakers were very inspiring while being relevant to all schools. I also met new people and re-connected with others, all invaluable connections.
    • The SAIS conference continues to represent the best value of any state, regional, or national conference of which I am aware.
    • Just astounded at the wonderful sessions and the timeliness of all the information. Great presentations that are valuable to our organizations. Will help us strengthen our schools!
    • Both the sessions and the conversations are wonderful, and vital to improving my ability to further my school's direction.
    • The SAIS conference is consistently the best educational event that I attend.
    • The sessions were all so good, it was hard to decide this year! The conference was extremely valuable and one I will continue to attend!
    • Top notch "right now" trending talks. The presenters were knowledgeable, smart, clear, fun and made a real difference with me.
    • I always love this convention. I learn as much through networking opportunities as from the presenters.
    • I find that SAIS events are always above average and exceedingly well-organized, well-planned, and full of relevant and intriguing content.
    • This is the one conference I insist upon attending every year.
    • 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!


    • If you require special accommodations or have any questions, please contact
    • For questions about speakers and sessions, contact
    • For questions about exhibits and sponsorships, contact


    Payment: Payment is required by credit card at the time of registration.

    Cancellation Policy: Cancellations received in writing to 21 days prior to the event will be refunded less a 20% processing fee. After that date no refunds are available, but replacement registrants are welcomed.

    Consent to Use of Photo / Video / Audio:  Registration, attendance at, or participation in SAIS meetings and other activities constitutes an agreement by the registrant to SAIS’s use and distribution (both now and in the future) of the registrant or attendee’s image or voice in photographs, videos, electronic reproductions, and audio of such events and activities.

    Target Audience: SAIS professional development events are designed for those currently employed by K-12 independent schools. Topics are presented from an independent school perspective and discussed based on that unique culture. As such, registration is limited to faculty/staff from SAIS member schools or from non-member schools meeting the SAIS candidacy criteria. Please contact if you have questions about eligibility.

    2019 SAIS Board/Head Retreat


    Designed to strengthen the communication and partnership between the head of school and members of the board, this program offers the opportunity to collaborate on current challenges and identify common goals for the success of the school. Featuring Jack Creeden, Amada Torres, and Debra Wilson.

    The 2019 SAIS Board/Head Retreat will take place on Sunday, October 27 at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia, 4355 Ashford-Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30346. More information may be found at

    2019 BHR FACILITATORS: Jack Creeden, Amada Torres, and Debra Wilson

    Jack Creeden

    Amada Torres

    Debra Wilson

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

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