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2020 SAIS Summer Conference Schedule


Monday, June 29

9:00 am - 10:15 am

Welcome & Kick-Off
Debra Wilson, President, SAIS

KEYNOTE: Dealing With Difficult Parents
Rob Evans & Michael Thompson

Ninety-five percent of parents are loving and concerned people who only want their child to be known, understood, and well taught. Five percent of parents, for reasons of their own mental disorders or troubled lives, must act out their difficulties on the school. Hear suggestions for managing the aggressive-intimidating parent, the anxious-incompetent parent, and the denying-unresponsive parent. Learn how to build better alliances with all parents, especially in these times of uncertainty.

10:15 am - 10:30 am


10:30 am - 11:30 am



-Three Reasons to Replace Department Chairs With Instructional Coaches
Brad Rathgeber, CEO, One Schoolhouse

Learn why coaching builds a culture of growth, encourages difficult conversations, and motivates staff. Understand a model for faculty coaching and the ties to faculty evaluation. Explore ways to introduce coaching in your school.


-Legal Concerns in Student Mental Health
Debra Wilson, President, SAIS

What are the confidentiality and privacy concerns around student information, assessments, and services received? What kinds of questions can be asked on an admission application, or during a prospective student interview pertaining to mental health concerns? Independent school educators need to be aware of important legal issues when working with students and families. This session discusses policies and procedures unique to the independent setting.


-Defining & Refining the Administrative Assistant Role
Pam Herath, Leadership and Culture Consultant, Herath Consulting

Being an administrative assistant is what you do; it is not who you are. The framework for this session explores four primary questions: What matters most? What does it look like? What makes it hard to bring that which matters to fruition? What are the tools and strategies necessary to address challenges? Regardless of the challenges you face – communication, expectations, dealing with difficult people, balance and boundaries – this session will provide an increased sense of empowerment and clarity as well as the tools to be more effective and fulfilled.


-Repurposing Your Community Engagement & Social Impact Programs as a Result of COVID-19
Laura Day, Executive Director, Institute of Social Impact, Hockaday School
Blake Kohn, Executive Director, National Network of Schools in Partnerships

What preparations do you need to take now to prepare for the fall? How can you repurpose your community engagement and partnership programs to maintain their outcomes while considering the limitations COVID-19 will place on their integrity? Hear concrete examples from the National Network of Schools in Partnerships and the Institute for Social Impact at Hockaday School on ways to shift your programs so your students still have authentic experiences with your community partners.

11:30 am - 11:45 am


11:45 am - 12:30 pm

Join your predetermined cohort where you will develop a sense of belonging, a shared purpose, and a network that will support you throughout the school year. In this first cohort gathering:

  • Introduce yourself to the group.
  • Share areas where you have expertise and experience.
  • What are the areas where you could use some advice or guidance?
12:30 pm - 1:15 pm

{Lunch Break}

1:15 pm - 2:15 pm

-Common Mental Health Disorders Seen in Our Schools
Melodie Frick, Counseling Program Director, Western Carolina University

Students of all ages experience mental health disorders. As the number of diagnoses increase, it is imperative for school counselors to be aware of symptoms that students experience. We will discuss symptoms of common mental health disorders seen in children and adolescents, an overview of medications used for these disorders, and strategies to educate students, teachers, school personnel, and parents to help with early detection and intervention.


-Organization Tips & Tricks
Sheri Burkeen, Director of Professional Development, SAIS

Save time and your sanity when you organize your desk and your day. Identify systems and procedures for paper and digital files. Create a plan of action for your return to campus or your distance learning home office.


-Incorporating Assessment Data Into Teacher Professional Development Conversations
Elizabeth Mangas, Chief Experience Officer, ERB
Thomas Rochon, President, ERB

Understanding effectiveness of the curriculum and overseeing faculty discussions of any areas needing review are among the most important duties of a division head. But where to focus? Assessment data can provide valuable hints about the most valuable areas of emphasis for curricular review, teacher professional development, and apportionment of time in the classroom. This session will focus on real assessment data gathered over time within a number of schools to illustrate how those data might be used in the collaborative dialog between department chairs and teachers.

2:15 pm - 2:30 pm


2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

-Designing & Building Hybrid Courses
Brad Rathgeber, CEO, One Schoolhouse

With the situation more fluid heading into next year and an expectation that some learning may happen on-campus and some learning will almost certainly have to be online, now is the time to develop a hybrid learning model. Hybrid learning allows for maximum flexibility between online and on-campus instruction. Highly functional hybrid environments include a robust design, a common platform for learning, and a consistent user experience for teachers, students, and families.


-Deans as Culture Keepers
Pam Herath, Leadership and Culture Consultant, Herath Consulting

Deans wear many hats: disciplinarian, advisor, teacher, and more. Regardless of their specific job descriptions deans are, by default, the leaders and culture keepers of the school. This session brings intentionality to this role. Start by exploring your why and then deep dive into the building blocks of consciously creating the culture you desire for your student body and faculty.


-Spreadsheet Tips for the Busy Admin Assistant
Clay Gibney, Director of Technology, SAIS

Administrative assistants are often required to be proficient in a variety of tools and programs. Spreadsheets are definitely on that list. This session will look at a variety of time-saving tricks in both Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel. Each productivity tip will be demonstrated on both platforms. Target audience: beginner to medium skill level.

3:30 pm - 3:45 pm


3:45 pm - 4:45 pm

Join your cohort to debrief today’s sessions:

  • Share key takeaways from sessions you attended and hear about other choice sessions.
  • Discuss how cohort members can help each other in areas of need.
  • Identify three possible topics you would like to see offered in tomorrow’s roundtables.
4:45 pm - 5:45 pm

Virtual Happy Hour
Grab your beverage of choice and join us for fun conversation and networking.

6:00 pm

On Your Own – Virtual Screening of Screenagers: The Next Chapter

To access the film, please see instructions posted at This is the follow-up to Screenagers: Growing up in the Digital Age. Filmmaker and physician Dr. Delaney Ruston takes the conversation around screens and teens to the next level with Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience—a film that examines the science behind teen’s emotional challenges, the interplay of social media, and most importantly, what can be done in our schools and homes to help them build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression in our digital age. Screenagers: The Next Chapter shows many ways parents, counselors, and educators can help teens build crucial skills for navigating stress, anxiety, and depression. There will be an opportunity to discuss the film on Wednesday at 10:15 am.

Tuesday, June 30

9:00 am - 10:15 am

Welcome Back
Debra Wilson, President, SAIS

KEYNOTE: Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect
Patricia Dailey Lewis, Executive Director, Beau Biden Foundation

During this session designed for adults on the front lines of child protection, participants will learn about mandatory reporting statutes, the different forms of abuse and neglect, how to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect in virtual learning environments, and how and when to make a report.

10:15 am - 10:30 am


10:30 am - 11:30 am



-What Have I Gotten Myself Into? A Guide for New & Aspiring Administrators
Peggy Campbell-Rush, Head of Lower School, Bolles School

Hear tips and tricks to stay sane, happy, and healthy in the job. Discuss ways to handle problems that arise and how to not compromise your value system. Learn what to expect and what they don’t tell you during the interview process. Gain a new sense of confidence and plenty of ideas for a successful school year.


-Adolescence Is Hard Work
Michael Thompson

There are five developmental challenges which every adolescent must meet. There are no shortcuts and no exemptions, and these challenges are, from a psychological point of view, very strenuous. At the same time, most adolescents meet them with grace and ingenuity. Despite the images of rebellious and antisocial adolescents in the popular media, fully two-thirds of children have smooth or stepwise patterns of growth during the teen-age years, only one-third a tumultuous pattern. Learn how to support students as they enter and move through this stage of life.


-Advice for Admin Assistants on Working With the Board
Kathy Corwin, Executive Assistant to the Head, Christ Church Episcopal School

Learn from an experienced executive assistant to the head of school about how to plan for board meetings and facilitate communication between the head, chair, and board members. Get helpful tips on taking notes in board meetings and how to keep things running smoothly.

11:30 am - 11:45 am


11:45 am - 12:15 pm

Topics for the roundtables will be crowdsourced from the cohorts on Monday and shared with attendees during the Tuesday morning welcome. Choose the topic that most interests you and join the discussion.

12:15 pm - 1:00 pm

{Lunch Break}

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm



-It's a Trip! Motivational Interviewing: The GPS of a Student's Brain
Tamara Hamilton, School Counselor, Cliff Valley School

There are many reasons why students are less engaged, and engagement is everything! Anxiety, stress, learning issues, mood, temperament, as well as a variety of other factors can have an impact on a student’s drive. The “unmotivated” student can be challenging, but with the right approach, we can empower those students to make constructive and positive changes. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based approach to engaging students, strengthening their intrinsic motivation, and building personal agency. Discuss the neuroscience of motivation, learn the principles of MI, practice applying MI strategies, and analyze your practice for implementing MI in your school community.


-Surviving & Thriving in Challenging Times
Rob Evans

Life in schools grows ever more complex. Expectations keep rising, not just in academic areas but in social and behavioral areas, as well. New initiatives and pressures arrive every year—along with new criticisms. How can you respond constructively? How can you maintain morale, energy, and competence? This session explores the range and complexity of changes in curriculum, pedagogy, special needs, and non-academic areas. Learn specific strategies for both facing up to and not being overcome by harsh realities. Reflect on ways to focus your goals, steps that have helped during stressful times, and current strengths as a professional community.


-How Blended Learning Can Help Foster Equitable Classrooms
Meredith Lewis, Director of School Transformation, LINC
Kate Schuster, Transformation Agent, LINC

The LINC team will discuss how blended learning practices can create environments where teachers can better understand each learner, develop instructional practices to meet unique learner needs, and empower student voice.

2:00 pm - 2:15 pm


2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Join your cohort to debrief today’s sessions:

  • Share key takeaways from sessions you attended and hear about other sessions.
  • Discuss how you can help each other move forward to the start of a new school year.


Wednesday, July 1

9:00 am - 10:00 am



-The New Normal: Coming Back After the Curve
Chris Joffe, Founder and CEO, Joffe Emergency Services

This session will focus on the best practices for returning to school after COVID-19. We will outline the top three to five areas of focus, discuss strategies for keeping schools safe, and provide a list of action items for each school to take as we continue to grapple with the challenges of returning to school in the fall.


-Strategies for Measuring and Improving Learning & Retention
Kimberly Carraway, Cognitive Learning Specialist, The Carraway Center for Teaching & Learning

As schools return in the fall, a greater emphasis will need to be placed on evaluating where students are, how to individualize to students' needs, and how to meet those needs through live and virtual tools. This session will focus on practical action steps administrators and teachers can implement to reduce learning loss, evaluate students’ needs and adjust curriculum and instructional strategies to meet those needs. Discussion will include core subjects in addition to skill-based areas, managing expectations, active learning strategies, and purposefully designed assessments.


-Creating a Sustainable, Purpose Driven SEL Advisory/Guidance Program
Rachael Lee, Lower and Middle School Guidance Counselor, Frederica Academy

Guidance and advisory programs have the potential to help students create meaningful relationships with an adult advocate and a sense of belonging with their peers. Providing a safe, engaging environment where students connect, have fun, and give back to the community meets the appropriate developmental needs students have at a precarious stage of life. Research shows that the experience of belonging and being connected strengthens academic achievement, improves mental and emotional health, and enhances the over-all school experience. We will share a model for establishing a purposeful and engaging lower school guidance and middle and upper advisory program that centers on social and emotional learning as the caveat for academic and relational success in school.

10:00 am - 10:15 am


10:15 am - 11:15 am



- Deep Dive Into Reopening Your School
Chris Joffe, Founder and CEO, Joffe Emergency Services

This session will use Joffe's school reopening templates as a starting point for your own documents. This interactive session will help you develop your own emergency plan around COVID-19, or at the very least have a clear action plan for creating one. During this session you will be able to ask for documentation and/or templates that have been produced by Joffe. Attendees are encouraged to have a copy of their current crisis plan available during the session. If you plan to attend this workshop, we strongly suggest attending the first session, The New Normal: Coming Back After The Curve.


-Risk Management in the New Normal
Debra Wilson, President, SAIS

Risk management is an issue many schools wrestle with on a good year, but COVID-19 is already demanding that we think about it differently. How does risk management work in a school? How do we manage conflicting guidelines? What kinds of risks are readily manageable, and what does that look like? Come join this interactive session to discuss issues and share possible solutions.


- Screenagers: The Next Chapter Movie Discussion
Sheri Burkeen, Director of Professional Development, SAIS

After viewing the film, did you learn something new or different? What issues most concerned you? What can you do in your school to promote mental health? How do screens affect stress, anxiety, and depression among teens? Did this change when we suddenly moved to remote learning? Are all screens created equal?

11:15 am - 11:30 am


11:30 am - 12:15 pm

Speaker Led Group Discussions
A chance to continue the conversation and get answers to your lingering questions. Speakers from earlier sessions will lead a small group discussion on a topic related to their session.

  • Peggy Campbell-Rush
  • Kimberly Carraway
  • Kathy Corwin
  • Laura Day & Blake Kohn
  • Rob Evans
  • Tamara Hamilton & Rachael Lee
  • Pam Herath
  • Chris Joffe
  • Nina Kumar & Suniya Luthar
  • Patricia Dailey Lewis
  • Debra Wilson
  • Michael Thompson
  • Tom Rochon
12:15 pm - 1:00 pm

{Lunch Break}

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

KEYNOTE: Supporting Educators as They Support Children: “Why” and “How-to” From Resilience Research
Nina Kumar, Co-Founder and CEO, Authentic Connections
Suniya Luthar, Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer, Authentic Connections

The COVID-19 crisis has triggered unique and dynamic issues affecting mental health. It is crucial to meet challenges responsively in order to foster resilience. The session will describe how to identify and address critical mental health concerns in school communities amid the shift to distance learning, as well as the top areas for improvement commonly found in distance learning contexts. Learn best practices for fostering resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic from decades of resilience research, and get specific strategies, which are currently being implemented in schools, to foster well-being.

2:00 pm - 2:15 pm


2:15 pm - 3:00 pm

Join your cohort to debrief today’s sessions and plan for the coming year:

  • What did you learn this week that you want to implement in the fall?
  • Where will you need support from your group?
  • How can you be a source of strength and encouragement to others?
3:00 pm - 3:15 pm


3:15 pm - 3:30 pm

Closing Session
Gather for a brief wrap-up and access info for conference recordings and speaker resources.

Calendar more
Administrative Leadership Institute
July 16 | Virtual
Annual Conference
October 21-23 | Virtual

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