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.

Fall Leadership Institute

The CAIS Diploma in Independent School Leadership is designed to prepare participants for senior leadership roles in independent schools, particularly for Headships, by providing courses in aspects of independent schools rarely experienced by teachers. It is expected that candidates will discuss participation with their Head of School.

November 16-17, 2018

Hosted by:Upper Canada College in Toronto, Ontario

Registration is now closed. Please email Don Kawasoe (dkawasoe@cais.ca) with any questions.

Program Times: The program runs from 3:45 p.m. on Friday, November 16 to 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, November 17, 2018.

Modules: Our current plan is to offer 3 required modules and 1 elective module. A minimum of 10 participants is required for each module to run.

Draft Schedule

View Accommodation Details

The Roehampton Hotel
808 Mount Pleasant Road
Toronto, ON M4P 2L2

Contact Information:

Booking a room: Participants book their own accommodation - please refer to the CAIS group to receive the special rate.
The rate is based on single or double occupancy, is subject to tax and has a refundable cancellation policy prior to 24 hours before the arrival date.
This is the best available rate for this date, If a lower rate is available and appears on the website, the lower rate will be honoured, but this rate has a non-refundable cancellation policy.

There is limited on-site parking at $20.00. There is a municipal parking lot located at 722 Mount Pleasant Road one block south of the hotel on a pay as you park basis.

Transfer to UCC:
12 minute walk to the Eglinton Station on the Yonge Street subway line
Take the Avenue Road #5 bus from Eglinton station ($3.25 cash fare - exact change)
Disembark at Gormley Avenue and walk south approximately 50 m and enter the UCC grounds and head for the Clock Tower

A block of rooms will be held to Thursday, October 16 at the current rate. Rooms may still be available after this date - please call the hotel.

Modules Offered for the Fall LI

Academic Administration


John Reid, West Island College Calgary


Offering a vibrant and dynamic academic program must always be the top priority for a school. Nothing is more important. The majority of CAIS Heads were academic leaders before being promoted to Head of School. The Academic Administration module is designed to provide participants with an opportunity to explore the key components of leading an academic program. The module will present best practices and a variety of case studies that will allow participants to understand the complexities of operating an effective academic program. Practical strategies will be discussed and developed through this highly interactive module.

Learning Intentions:

  • Expose delegates to a wide range of topics that are the responsibility of school academic leaders.
  • Understand the complexity and importance of sustainable academic programs in CAIS schools.
  • Appreciate the significance the school’s academic program has on the various stakeholder groups. (students, parents, faculty and staff, board members, alumni, community, etc.)
  • Understand how a school’s academic program should be closely integrated to all aspects of an independent school program – admission, advancement, information technology, etc.
  • Acquire “hands-on” experience in leading and managing a school’s academic program.
  • Reflect upon one’s own leadership style in order to successfully manage the academic program.

Course Content:

  • Introduction, Overview and Objectives
  • The Importance of the Academic Program
  • Building an Effective Resource Program at a CAIS School
  • Performance Appraisal Protocol
  • Professional Development and the Professional Growth Portfolio
  • Mentorship
  • Managing Academic Leaders
  • Academic Integrity
  • Supporting the University Counseling Department
  • Transition Between Schools Within School

Facilitator's Bio

A graduate of the CAIS LI and Next Steps Program, John is originally from Hamilton, Ontario. After graduating from the Trent/Queen’s concurrent education program, he started his career as a science teacher at Northern Lights Secondary School. After 4 years in Moosonee, Ontario he moved into the independent school world at Trinity College School, in Port Hope, Ontario. At TCS he ran the science department, coached swimming and completed a Master’s Degree in Theory and Policy Studies & Curriculum from University of Toronto.

After 5 years at TCS, he moved to Collingwood School, in British Columbia to become the Head of Middle School, taking care of 350 students in grades 6-9. After eight years in that role, he became the Dean of Instructional Growth and Faculty, focusing on the professional growth and classroom practices of 80 teachers, grades 8-12. After 10 years in BC, he moved to the United States to become the Executive Director at Chartwell School in Monterey, California. Chartwell’s program provides a purpose built, K-12 college preparatory environment for students with language based learning differences like dyslexia. After 3 years in that role, John returned to Canada and currently serves as Deputy Head of School & Head of Senior School for West Island College in Calgary.


Val Pighin, CAIS


With accreditation being a requirement for membership in CAIS, schools are increasingly interested in the process and its demonstrated impact on sustained improvement. This module will examine the history and current trends in accreditation, along with additional methods of effecting successful change.

Learning Intentions:

  • Examine the need for continuous school improvement
  • Develop an understanding of the change process, with emphasis on leading innovation
  • Standards, Indicators of Effective Practice and Guiding Questions
    • Internal Evaluation: Gathering data, collaboration and reflective practice
    • External Evaluation: Visiting Committee overview
    • Cycle of improvement: reporting process

Facilitator's Bio

Val Pighin is the Director of Accreditation and Research at Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS). She joined the CAIS team in summer 2012 after relocating to the Niagara Region from Barrie, Ontario. Although her background in IT and Finance was key in bringing Val to CAIS, by fall of 2012 she was immersed in the CAIS Independent School Community and the Accreditation Program.

Before joining CAIS, Val's career was focused in business administration, working in the areas of Human Resources, Finance, and IT. The skills developed working in the business sector created a solid foundation for managing CAIS accreditation. In 2014, Val was appointed Accreditation Coordinator and became responsible for all aspects of the program including the work of two Board Councils - the Evaluation Council and the Standards Council. She was afforded the opportunity to work with the Councils, Board and Executive Director on the development of the 2015 CAIS Accreditation Guidelines and was charged with its implementation.

Working closely with the ED and the school community, as well as participating in Board meetings, conferences, leadership institutes, and committee meeting, strengthened Val's understanding of the independent school community and the important role that CAIS plays within that community.

In 2018, Val earned her designation with the CCVA as a Certified Volunteer Administrator, graduated from the CAIS Leadership Institute and was appointed Director of Accreditation and Research with CAIS. She will also join the LI faculty in November 2018 facilitating the Accreditation and School Improvement module.


John Lynch, Crescent School


All aspects of a fully functioning Advancement Office will be reviewed during this module. There will be a combination of lecture, individual & group case assignments, Q&A, and in-depth discussions of topics that are of particular interest to the participants. Topics will include:


  • The Solicitation Cycle
  • Annual Giving, Major Gifts, Planned Giving
  • Making the Major Gift Ask
  • Campaigns
  • Consultants
  • Donor Agreements & Pledge Schedules
  • Naming Opportunities

Alumni relations

  • Programmes – in person & online
  • Branches/Chapters
  • International
  • Events
  • Surveys

Advancement Services

  • Research, Records & Database Management
  • Reports & Moves Management
  • Receipts, Reminders and Acknowledgements


  • Leadership/Executive Team
  • Board of Governors/Trustees
  • Foundation Board/Directors - Endowment
  • Advancement/Alumni/Development Volunteer Committees


  • School & Advancement Strategic Plans
  • Campaign Case for Support
  • Communications & Marketing
  • Admissions
  • Advancement Budget/Investment
  • Staff Recruitment & Retention

Learning Intentions:

  1. A review of best practices, and real examples – a working knowledge of Advancement
  2. Gain an appreciation of the many positive impacts that Advancement activities can have upon a school

Leading from Within

Cathy Thornicroft, St. Margaret's School


“There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of authority or influence. Those who lead inspire us.” - Simon Sinek

This module will provide you with an appreciation for the strengths you bring to this leadership position and the importance of being able to draw from the strengths of others. Leadership is about framing the challenge and pointing out the horizon, helping others involved know what matters and why. Engaging others to help solve an issue means more ideas arise, more people willing to be part of the solution, and more people willing to act on those solutions. Ultimately, as a leader, it is more important to know what needs to be addressed than knowing the answer – collaborating rather than commanding; guiding rather than telling; and sharing rather than hoarding power.

Learning Intentions:

  1. Explore Strength-based Leadership – for self and others.
  2. Explore strategies to build your administrative team with the right people and the necessary strengths to compliment your leadership style.
  3. Identify ways to build capacity in your administrative team.
  4. Understand the importance of beginning with the WHY before the WHAT and the HOW in addressing any challenge.
  5. Reflect on balancing leadership and management.

Facilitator's Bio

Cathy Thornicroft has been an educator for nearly 40 years having spent time in K- 12 learning environments in a variety of roles as well as 7 years at the district level as an Area Superintendent in both the Delta and Richmond School District. Cathy’s area of interests includes leadership development, the study of Ethics and student engagement. She is passionate about helping people find their voices –not just for themselves but also for those that don’t have the same opportunities to speak for themselves. Two of Cathy’s highlights during her teaching career include meeting the Dalai Lama when the Richmond School District’s Student Leadership team (T.A.B.L.E. 38) hosted him at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver before a Global Perspective Conference. The other exciting moment was meeting Simon Sinek when he made a surprise visit to SMS in recognition of a blog that she had written on the importance of knowing your WHY.

This is Cathy’s ninth year at St. Margaret’s School – an independent school for girls located in Victoria. She loves working with the girls and helping them see the possibilities of what they can achieve. The school’s vision of developing Confident Girls. Inspiring Women drives the Strategic Plan and shapes how teaching and learning occurs at the School.