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2051 Challenge

Register for the 2051 Challenge on April 7-9, 2017 in Montreal. Learn more here. And view the past work of 2051 here.

Register for the 2017 National Leaders Conference - Academics

April 9 - 11, 2017.
Register here

Leadership Institute

Register for the upcoming Spring and Summer Leadership Institute. Learn More & Register

2016 CAIS Webinar Recordings

Watch our International Fundraising, Governance Series, National Student Panel on Supporting LGBTQ+ Students, 2015 KPI Benchmarking Overview and our Review on Executing Accreditation Pilot Surveys webinars in CAIS Connect.
Access webinars here

Register for upcoming webinars here

2016 NLC Resources now available

Both the Catalytic Conversations on the Future of Education - Summary Report and the workshop material is now in CAIS Connect.
Access the Summary Report and Workshop Material

New PD model

Anne-Marie speaks to moving forward with a new national PD model with the creation of one national conference. Watch the Video

2015 CAIS Accreditation Guidelines

Review the new CAIS Accreditation Guidelines that are being piloted this school year. We welcome your feedback!


Finding the Magic

Making the CAIS

Finding the Magic

By Paul G. Kitchen, Head of School at Rothesay Netherwood School

In 1965 I was a new grade 9 boarding student beginning what I thought would be a grand adventure. Both of my brothers had spent five years at boarding school, so I didn't ask any questions. When I was going into grade 9, it just seemed that it was my turn. Little did I know that my turn would end up lasting 46 years.

Schools were very different in 1965. Classrooms had lots of rows of desks, and most of the kids never spoke until they were spoken to. I was a pretty "active" boy, and my energies would have been better suited for a classroom today than they were to a classroom in 1965. But, as is true for anyone who ends up loving school, I had magic moments during those five years and they were all because of the relationship I developed with a teacher. When I think back to those first years of boarding school, I get a little sentimental about things, and my memory takes me to Derek Inglis, my math teacher in grades 10 and 11 and 12. When I went to school, I liked sports, and I liked a lot of the life that was boarding, but classes were sometimes a struggle for me. But, when I was in my senior school, it was Mr. Inglis who taught me that I was a good math student. I don't remember him teaching me math so much as him teaching me to have confidence and make the most of my skills.

As I leave RNS after 29 years at the helm, it is pretty clear to me that the magic I had with Mr. Inglis is still the essence of what makes for a great student experience. The essence of great teaching has always been the same. It is founded on a relationship between the teacher and the student. It is the magic of a teacher being able to convince a student that they can do anything, that they can grow, and that it is worth the risk of trying. Kids who love school inevitably can look to a teacher who has believed in them, helped them gain confidence, and helped give them the courage to try a little harder. It's as true today as it was 51 years ago.

Schools in 2016 are so different from what they were half a century ago. They're different from what they were even 15 years ago. Today, we are all in a race to give our kids more. We add facilities and programs. We bring our kids the world, and we ask them to go out and make parts of it better. But, in the end, what makes good schools is great teaching. What makes great schools is even more great teaching. And great teaching comes down to that simple relationship between the teacher and the student. We in CAIS have some of the most beautiful and well-adorned schools on the planet, but we are lost if we cannot provide the simple magic that happens when a student meets and recognizes a teacher who commits wholly to their success.

What I am describing is no great secret. Today we know that teachers are the very foundation of school magic. It is our job to help set teachers up for success. We need to find a way to increase the number of great teachers greeting our students in our classrooms. We need to tackle the somewhat complicated problem of finding great teachers and helping our students develop relationships with them so that they too will find magic in their classrooms. This simple situation I am describing is not simple to achieve. If it was, we would have far simpler schools. So after 49 years, I have arrived at the relatively challenging conclusion that what makes a school great is magic. And this magic is hard to find. But it is the aim of Heads in every school to find that magic as often as they can.

Although the boarding school I went to in 1965 looks completely different from the boarding school I am leaving in 2016, what remains the same is the need for vital student / teacher relationships. The moments of magic that happen when these relationships are built are at the heart of every story that every student has ever told about loving school. And that is why we are all endeavouring to support great teachers. It is because their magic convinced a fidgety (but well-meaning) student in 1965 that he could do mathematics. And, it is so we will be able to convince students in 2016 that they can make the world just a little bit better if they risk just a little bit more.



When the Strength of Our Community was Tested

by Erin Corbett, Head of School at River Valley School

Sometimes it takes extreme circumstances to appreciate what simple words like "community" and "learning" really mean.

River Valley School, located in the old and historic part of Calgary, was severely damaged during the catastrophic flooding of late June 2013...

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The Power and Benefits of Mentorship

by Eileen Daunt, Head of School at Bayview Glen

Mentoring is part of how we all function and flourish, from our first interactions with our parents, and then on to our relationships with friends, teachers, colleagues and those we work for. At Bayview Glen, we believe in the life-long value of mentorship and have developed a comprehensive mentorship program for all our students ...

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The Benefits of Live-Time Assessment

The Benefits of Live-Time Assessment

by Martin Jones, Middle School Principal and Craig Davis, Senior School Principal at Mulgrave School

Following on the work of John Hattie and others, Mulgrave has recently been focusing on efforts to improve teacher feedback, as well as student expectations and target-setting, in order to improve student learning.

Our initiative, Live-Time Assessment, involves openly sharing key assessment results and feedback with both students and parents soon after the assessment takes place ...

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Who We Are is as Important as What We Do

by Dr. Josep L. González, head of School at TFS – Canada's International School

In the midst of developing our new strategic plan for TFS – Canada's International School, I was struck by how we often talk about what we do but seldom about who we are. This sort of fundamental insight is particularly relevant for TFS because we are in a unique position, geographically, intellectually and academically ...

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Admissions – Not Just a Process

by Katherine Nikidis, Principal at Trafalgar School for Girls

Sometimes one size does not fit all. The concept doesn't work well for clothing and it doesn't work for standardized admissions tests. I also think that it doesn't truly work for Trafalgar School for Girls.

At Trafalgar we have been thinking about how best to assess, accept and nurture students so that they thrive within our school ...

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Perhaps It's Something in the Water

by Dr. Glenn Zederayko, Head of School at Glenlyon Norfolk School

Every school encourages a caring and community-minded experience for its students, but that doesn't fully explain what makes Glenlyon Norfolk – located on the western edge of the country, in Victoria – such a special place.

Perhaps it's something in the water. Or, more precisely, perhaps it's the fact that we are situated at the boundary of land and ocean, with the world there at our doorstep ...

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Building Canada's World School for Boys

by Dr. Tom Matthews, Headmaster at St. George's School

St. George's School is halfway through its ten-year strategic plan, One Boy at a Time. By any measure, it's a big and bold plan. We are positioning St. George's to be a world leader in the education of boys. We started with the basics, which for us meant recommitting to being deliberately and proactively a boy's school. In this era – when some single-gender schools remain so for reasons of tradition, and while others are considering or have already become co-ed – that in itself is a major commitment ...

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Keeping Our Focus

by Laurence Kutler, Head of School at Talmud Torah | Herzliah

What will our students remember ten years from now? I think it's safe to say they won't remember individual tests and assignments – those numbers and data that sometimes are in danger of consuming all our energies and focus.

I do think they will remember the humanity of our school, the warmth of the teachers and staff, the nurturing community that we focus on creating at Talmud Torah | Herzliah ...

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Singing Our Light

by Allan Hardy, Principal at Greenwood College School

At Greenwood, we believe strongly that students should be provided with multiple opportunities to challenge their minds, their bodies and their spirits. And now we have a spectacular artwork that demonstrates these beliefs.

"Singing the Light," by Toronto artist Sarah Hall, is 60 feet high by 18 feet wide and continuously spans five floors of our school. The central tree that stretches the length of the piece, together with the birds that come to rest within the piece and then fly off on their own, are allegories for the school community ...

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Our Students are Masterworks

by Ted Spear, Ph.D., Head at Island Pacific School

At Island Pacific School we believe that when kids are given a strong foundation and the right kinds of support, they can achieve truly remarkable things.

This belief is put into practice in our Masterworks program. Small by design – IPS has a total of about 65 students spread across Grades 6 to 9 – our school has created an intellectually creative challenge for our graduating students ...

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Neuchâtel Junior College Celebrates 60 Years

Neuchâtel Junior College - Bill Boyer, Head of School.

"We have many of the same concerns as other CAIS schools," says Neuchâtel's Head of School, Bill Boyer, "and that includes refreshing our facilities, fundraising, and ensuring a compelling education inside – and especially outside – the classroom."

"What is unique about our school is that we renew our entire student body every year. We offer Grade 12 only, and so each and every year we see a new group of students. That has its challenges and its pleasures."...

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Leveraging Our Power
redactor-temporary

by Martha Perry, Principal at St. Clement's School

As the product of a girls' school, I believe strongly in the presence and the nurturing of women in leadership. It is a comfort to know that CAIS believes in this as well.

Over the last four years, a module on Women and Leadership – first started by Kathy Nikidis, past Head of Miss Edgar's and Miss Cramp's School – has been included at the CAIS Leadership Institute. It has been important in fostering conversations among female colleagues about research, candid experiences, and considerations of next steps ...

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Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip or Digging Deep?

by Stuart Grainger, Headmaster at Trinity College School

The start of an academic year brings a new energy to those of us in education – students, staff and faculty alike. A fresh beginning provides another opportunity to set short-term and long-term goals, another chance to sharpen habits and routines and, ultimately, the ability to make our lives and communities better ...

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The Importance of a Blank Page, and Some Deep Thinking

by Graham Hookey, Head of School at Kempenfelt Bay School

Since 1984 I have written a weekly column for local newspapers in the communities in which I have lived. My purposes are quite simple. First, I feel that discussions surrounding education and parenting (the main thrusts of my writing) are both necessary and helpful. I throw ideas up in the air, share the insights and research of others, and then hope some of it settles in such a way that it's helpful to parents as they take on the ever-challenging role of raising children ...

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Happiness is the Truth!

As schools begin the new academic year, CAIS wants to wish Rodger Wright a relaxing, fulfilling – and happy – retirement.

After 33 years as Headmaster – at Trinity College and Collingwood School – Rodger Wright retired in June. But he did not go without a song ...

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Can You Fly?

By Jason B. Rogers, Headmaster at Rundle College

When I was five years old, if someone had asked me this, I probably would have answered, "I might not be able to fly now! But I'm about to take off!"

I remember donning my Superman costume and running in circles in my backyard attempting to get a little bit of lift. My younger brother, who so often was the innocent bystander in need of rescue, often sat by awaiting my triumphant arrival ...

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Finding the Magic

By Paul G. Kitchen, Head of School at Rothesay Netherwood School

In 1965 I was a new grade 9 boarding student beginning what I thought would be a grand adventure. Both of my brothers had spent five years at boarding school, so I didn't ask any questions. When I was going into grade 9, it just seemed that it was my turn. Little did I know that my turn would end up lasting 46 years ...

Read more
The Business and Joys of Education are Unlike Any Other

By Blayne Addley, Headmaster at Halifax Grammar School

The Halifax Grammar School is currently designing a new campus. It's being brought to life founded on the core principals of collaboration and group-work, and will celebrate liberal arts education, which I strongly believe will help develop the best and brightest opportunities for our current and future students ...

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The Story of Keisha (or, never underestimate the impact you can have on the life of a child)

By Dorothy Byers, Head of School at St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School

Human beings are socialized creatures: we need social interaction to thrive. Working in education enables the development of deep relationships with the children, parents, and adults with whom we work. The impact of these relationships may take years to understand or come to fruition. Let me share one that is profoundly impactful in my life ...

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Perhaps We See Some Revolutions Only in Retrospect

By Geoff Dowd, Principal of Trafalgar School for Girls

My undergraduate readings in education during the early 1970s created a fair degree of internal cognitive dissonance: they included Ivan Illich urging us to de-school society and Neil Postman disparaging systems that focused too much on how to make a living, rather than live a life. Taught by professors long removed from school classrooms (if they were ever there), I seemed to learn more about why education was not working...

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Everything Flows from Relationships

By Jim Power, Principal of Upper Canada College

Growth mindsets, 21st-century learning skills, cross-cultural competencies – these are among the important topics vigorously promoted in schools these days. But it's important to remember something that has been true since Plato first wrote about his cave: schools are, at their deepest core, about the fundamental and pivotal relationship between student and teacher...

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