Expect The Best


National Leaders Conference

The 2019 National Leaders Post Conference Call for Workshop Proposals are open until December 7. Apply here.

Strengthen Your School Leadership

CAIS values the constant and deliberate quest for excellence, and we recognize the vital leadership role that governors play, in partnership with Heads, in the success of our schools. We want all of our schools to have strong Heads who focus on supporting the students of the present, but we also want strong Boards that focus on supporting the students of the future.

The Governance Guide include new learning on a number of areas, including Human Resources, Risk Management, Head Transitions, and Consent Agendas.

CAIS members and non-members can purchase a hard copy here. And CAIS members can also view the full PDF in CAIS Connect here.

A Note From Patti

Do you miss being in a school? This is a question that I have often been asked as I visit CAIS schools across Canada. This year I have had the opportunity to do what most educators can only dream of. I visited all of the CAIS member schools in Canada. I have spent time in the best independent schools across the country, which are arguably some of the best schools in the world. As a passionate educator, I feel grateful for this amazing opportunity to listen and learn.

I stepped into the role of ED because I believe deeply in the CAIS vision: to be the standard of excellence in learning and leadership, shaping the future of education. Given dedicated staffs, expert faculties, and rich resources, CAIS member schools have the opportunity to show what is possible in education. The achievement of our goals does not come without challenges but the driving force that binds our schools together is commitment to the excellence for students that we serve. Although I no longer have the experience of being in one school, I am fortunate to have the privilege of connecting with incredible schools across the country.

What have you learned as you have travelled across the country this year? This is likely the most frequently asked question I receive from school leaders. On reflection, the most universal takeaway is the power of the diversity that defines CAIS. Everyone recognizes that the heterogeneity of our membership can be a challenge, particularly as it relates to the accreditation process. At the same time, the uniqueness of mission, vision and values reflected in our schools is why our schools exist. It has been amazing to hear the origin stories of many schools, all of which have a founder or founders who were looking for a different alternative for children, whether 15 or 150 years ago. A commonality shared by each of our schools is the importance of being “independent” in order to meet the needs of a distinct community.

I have learned that there is enormous support across the membership for CAIS and the programs that we offer. The capacity for collaboration and generosity within our membership is both impressive and heartening. It is important that we acknowledge that, within certain communities, we are competitors. At the same time, there is a clear sense that “the rising tide lifts all ships”. As we work together and learn more about our shared values and our differences, we recognize that we can work with respect and courtesy. In the end, what matters is the “fit” for our students and families. Binding us together as a community is our commitment to being the best we can be through the pursuit of continual whole school improvement.

On the theme of generosity, thank you to those who have supported the CAIS team through our many transitions this year. CAIS is a small team that is dependent on the multitude of volunteers to make our work happen. Throughout this newsletter, you will hear gratitude from our team for your time, effort, expertise and commitment to learning.

CAIS Team Staffing update

We are excited to announce that we are adding a new member to the CAIS team. We have posted the position of CAIS Accreditation Coordinator. Val Pighin, who currently holds this position, will be assuming a newly created role in which she will oversee Accreditation and Research. This will allow her to be more strategic in continually improving our accreditation and research processes. You can find the posting on the CAIS website.

I would personally like to thank the amazing CAIS team for their hard work and support throughout my first months at CAIS.

  • Tracey Nolan - Executive Assistant
  • Margo Jakobschuk - Business Coordinator
  • Isabelle Paradis - Marketing Coordinator
  • Val Pighin - Director of Accreditation and Research
  • Karen Findall - Communication and Research Coordinator
  • Fiona Parke - Director of Outreach - CAIS Boarding Schools
  • Shannon Byck - Conference Manager
  • Don Kawasoe - Interim Professional Learning Coordinator
  • Elizabeth Chambers - Professional Learning Coordinator (Currently on maternity leave)
  • Sam Tajalli-Nezhad - Summer Student Coop

Benchmarking Update

As you may be aware, CAIS struck a task force in the winter to review the CAIS annual benchmarking. The task force, chaired by Marc Ayotte, Head of School at Hillfield Strathallan College, is committed to broad stakeholder consultation as it considers possible improvements to the Benchmarking Report, process and timelines. The initial consultation was scheduled to take place at the National Leaders Conference in April 2018 but was cancelled due to inclement weather.

We would like to thank participants who took part in the rescheduled one-hour consultation sessions in late May. The webinar was facilitated by Jason Lockhart from Innovative Research Group who takes leadership on the CAIS Benchmarking Report. Over 140 CAIS Leaders took part in the sessions to review the 2016-17 KPI Benchmarking report and discuss what should stay, what could be eliminated and what is missing from the report as well as the preferred timelines for completion and distribution.

The task force met in June to consider the feedback from stakeholders. Although the initial plan was to roll out the revised survey in early July, the decision was made to slow the process down and ensure that the new format was reflective of best practice and the needs of CAIS member schools. As such, the task force has decided to continue to use the current KPI Benchmarking structure for the 2017-18 school year. The task force will share a draft of the new survey in a consultation session at the Heads and Chairs Conference in October 2018. Further feedback will be sought from Business Officers and other Operational Leaders following this session.

Thanks you for your continued support as we work together to to improve this process.

School Based Innovation Research Grants

The CAIS Research Advisory Committee has convened a sub-committee to build school-based research capacity across CAIS schools through the administration and support of the CAIS School Innovation Grant program. The committee will administer the CAIS School Innovation Grants to be awarded on a biennial basis and provide support for and mentoring of grant recipients.

  • Chair: Leanne Foster - Trafalgar Castle School
  • Trish Cislak - Crescent School
  • Seonaid Davis - Havergal College School
  • Kimberly Harvey - York House School
  • James McMillan - Selwyn House
  • Jenny Wright - Sacred Heart School Halifax

The sub-committee will be sending more information on the next round of School Based Innovation Research Grants to schools in September. More to come soon on the results from the last round of grants!

Save the Date for the 2018 Heads and Chairs Conference

Please mark your calendars for the 2018 Heads and Chairs Conference in Calgary, Backpack to the Future: Leading, Learning, Living. The conference will begin on Sunday, October 14 at 1:30 and wrap up on Tuesday, October 16 by 1:45.

The committee reviewed feedback which indicated that some travel made it difficult for some people to stay for the sessions on Tuesday afternoon. The new schedule seeks to be responsive to this and allow people to get back to their schools on Wednesday morning.

More information on the conference program will be coming out to Heads and Chairs this summer.

Save the date for the 2019 National Leaders Conference

April 7 - 9, 2019 at the Delta Hotel Toronto Airport & Conference Centre in Toronto.

More information on the conference program will be coming out after the Heads and Chairs Conference in October.

Patti MacDonald
CAIS Executive Director