A Note from SAIS President 
Dr. Steve Robinson


"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be."

--- Ralph Waldo Emerson  


Happy New Year!  I hope everyone enjoyed a refreshing winter holiday with family and friends. The enrollment season is fast upon us and all too soon you will send off another group of graduates whom you have diligently developed into capable college freshmen. I know you are excited about the coming semester and the many events and accolades that accompany finishing a successful school year.


SAIS has planned numerous workshops to help you in the successful growth and leadership of your school:

  • Helping heads and other academic school leaders understand the complex business operations of school, the Finance Institute, March 27-28 in Atlanta, focuses on major budget drivers, admissions, financial aid/tuition remission, development, HR/facilities, as well as many practical skills such as how to create different types of budgets, handle audits, and share information with the school's trustees. 
  • We will also hold our first-ever Heads Leadership Retreat in historic Charleston, SC, April 6-7. Ian Symmonds will facilitate activities and conversations about identifying, nurturing, and growing leaders in schools.  Here's a short video about the retreat. 
  • On April 24, we'll continue with our AISAP-SAIS Admissions Forums, which I have been conducting with Janice Crampton, Executive Director of the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals. This workshop highlights creating and implementing a strategic enrollment management plan. Please note that additional dates and locations will be added. 
  • This summer we will continue with our many professional development opportunities for heads, administrators, and teachers; please visit our 2014 events calendar for dates and to reserve a place for you or your staff. 
  • And finally, we have scheduled the 2014 SAIS Annual Conference for October 18-20 at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta, GA, so mark your calendars today and plan to attend!

We wish you a productive and prosperous 2014 as you engage in the most important work on earth: developing young people for the future they will inherit.



Dr. Steve Robinson

STEM Reloaded: One School's Approach


"We are currently preparing students for jobs and technologies that don't yet exist... In order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet."


Admiral Farragut Academy sophomore George Dyche wants to be an engineer. His parents are engineers for Exxon Mobil and have had successful careers and traveled all over the world for their jobs. When choosing where to attend high school, he knew the school would have to have a strong STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and in particular, engineering curriculum.  >>Read more HERE.

FastStats: 2012 PISA Scores

by Jeff Mitchell, Head of Tuscaloosa Academy


Every few years a lot of discussion is generated by the release of the latest PISA scores. Typically, an article is written in the New York Times, or elsewhere, with an eye-catching headline like, "U.S. Students Flounder on International Academic Comparisons," or "The Failure of Market Based Education," or "Student Test Scores Depend on Accountability."


The take-home message for independent school administrators reading this is (confirming, I believe, what most of us knew intuitively) that there's a seemingly large discrepancy between the cultural narrative associated with the PISA results and the actual numbers as they apply to independent schools.  >>Read more HERE.

Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
by Donna Siebenthaler, Director of Curriculum & Instruction at Trinity Presbyterian School, Montgomery, AL

The winter holiday break is a great time to reflect on the best and worst of the last academic semester, and look for ways to tweak one's instruction in light of recent research. In Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, author Matthew D. Lieberman offers readers insight into human behavior based on a new realm of science: social cognitive neuroscience. Research into how our brains respond to the social world is of recent origin, and Lieberman's book chronicles the research in an easy-to-read style while offering advice on how to use the findings to improve the lives of individuals, businesses, and schools.  >>Read more HERE.

Heads Leadership Retreat

Join SAIS and facilitator Ian Symmonds for the inaugural SAIS Heads Leadership Retreat in Charleston, SC, on April 6-7, 2014.  Leadership can be complicated. Myriad factors play into becoming an effective leader and learning to adapt to those around you. This retreat focuses on these aspects of leadership and breaks down the obstacles to remaining informed and connected as leaders. We invite heads to engage and grapple with the topic of nurturing leadership in others and growing administrative talent in our schools. The retreat will take place at the elegant Francis Marion Hotel, rising high over Charleston's historic district at the corner of King and Calhoun streets since 1924.  
>>Info and registration at
>>Short video (under 2 minutes!) here

If you missed the 2013 SAIS Annual Conference (or just want to relive it!), check out some of the sessions on SAIStv. 

SAIS Article Archives & Publications
You can review past SAIS publications and booklets along with research papers organized by topics at
STEM Reloaded
Book Review

Newsletter Archive 

President's Page 

Contact SAIS Staff 


Do you have a colleague who would benefit from this eNL? They can subscribe here.


Feb 26-28 - registration open! 
Orlando, FL
Stop by the SAIS booth (#111) in the exhibit hall and/or our reception from 6-8 PM on Thurs, Feb 27, in Swan 5. RSVP below.
March 27-28 - registration open!

Finance Institute 
Atlanta, GA
For heads & administrators who don't have a background in business or finance - learn to speak your CFO's language!  Facilitated by Barb Egan and Marifred Cilella.
April 6-7 - registration open!
Heads Leadership Retreat 
Francis Marion Hotel - Charleston
Growing Leaders in Your School
featuring Ian Symmonds


June 15-17 - registration open!
Institute for Senior Administrators 
Emory Conference Center - Atlanta
featuring Keith Evans & David Mahler
June 18-20 - registration open!
Administrative Leadership Institute 
Emory Conference Center - Atlanta
featuring Rob Evans & Michael Thompson
June 24-27 - registration open!
Institute for Heads
Grove Park Inn - Asheville, NC
featuring Rob Evans & Michael Thompson

June 29-July 2 - registration open!
Institute for New Heads 
Atlanta, GA
featuring Jack Hall (Walker School), Billy Peebles (The Lovett School) & Scott Wilson (Baylor School)
Institute for New Teachers 
June 24-26 | Atlanta
July 15-17 | Charlotte
July 22-24 | Memphis
July 28-30 | Atlanta

October 18-20
Annual Conference 
Atlanta, GA - Crowne Plaza Ravinia

Ode to Calling 
a Snow Day
by Paul Bianchi, Head,
The Paideia School, Atlanta, GA
The one aspect of my job that I don't like, and never have, and at which I never seem to get any better, is making the decision to call off school when snowflakes come our way. Never is it lonelier, or colder, at the top than on those mornings when wintry weather threatens our normal routine. Hours before sunrise, when most people are still in bed and should be, I am up trying to decide what to do with little or no dependable information. 
You may have heard of this or come across it in an anthology of the best letters ever written by heads (that doesn't actually exist but maybe it should). The earliest extant incarnation of it seems to have appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2009 (although there is a hard-to-find CNN interview from January 2000 which might be the kernel, the Ur-article, if you will). This gem, this golden bough, will be enjoyed by all - whether you have to make the final call or not - and maybe will give you comfort and guidance next time you are torn by the ramifications of school decisions.  >>Read more HERE.
Blogs of Note 
Bo Adams, Chief Learning and Innovation Officer at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Atlanta, GA, makes predictions for top themes in learning and innovation in 2014.  
Jennifer Carey, Director of Educational Technology at Ransom Everglades School in Miami, FL, discusses how the ability and need for students to collaborate and share information on projects is forcing educators to rethink plagiarism and assessments. 

Michael Ehrhardt, Head of Cary Academy in Cary, NC, discusses the role of luck in many life outcomes, and how to make luck by being optimistic, open to new opportunities, and willing to learn from setbacks and persevere. 
Reflecting on the death of Nelson Mandela, Christopher Hayes, Head of Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, FL, discusses the difficult, but critical choice of seeking justice, defending victims, and supporting our fellow man. 


Stakeholder Survey Center Now Open!


  • Visit to see the new stakeholder surveys available to you and your community.
  • SAIS has created a series of highly reliable and valid stakeholder surveys for you to use either in conjunction with a strategic visioning process or just to take the pulse of your community.
  • Be sure to check out the video explanation, sample questions, timelines, and sample reports.