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.

Developing Leaders for Canada's Best Independent Schools

Dates: July 2 - 6, 2018
St. Michaels University School, Victoria, BC

Next Steps Program Information

Registration for the Next Step Program is closed. Please contact Don Kawasoe (dkawasoe@cais.ca) with any inquiries.

In 2000, a group of CAIS Heads had a vision that the national organization should develop talent, and they created a Leadership Institute (now affectionately known as the LI). The program includes a variety of modules that are specific to the unique nature of independent schools, and the facilitators are leaders in our community who ensure content is relevant and practical to school improvement. Over the years, this program has grown to include a variety of modules, and we are honoured to engage with over 100 participants each summer. The evidence of success is twofold:

  • Many of our grads have gone on to assume leadership positions in our schools, including Headships.
  • Our grads report that our program has had significant impact on their growth both personally and professionally; additionally, they can demonstrate the impact of our program on our schools.

In 2010, we heard from our graduates that they wanted to experience more CAIS leadership development. We also heard from our schools that there was a need for a targeted program for those administrators who were looking to take the next step in their careers. There had to be an application process and there had to be more experiential learning with impact on our schools. And thus, we launched the Next Step Program. We developed a two-year curriculum, hired three facilitators and five mentors, and limited the program to 12 participants. Our program included two summers and a one-year change project that was supported by mentors.

In 2015, we commissioned Susan Wright to conduct research to better understand the changing leadership landscape. “Leadership in our schools: A Research Project” highlights the following:

  • 6 out of 10 Heads in CAIS schools (That’s 58 people!) anticipate they will retire or leave their schools in the next 6 years
  • 1 in 5 of the Heads (22%) say they anticipate retiring or leaving their schools fewer than 3 years from now
  • 66% of current Heads were not selected from within their school – they were at another school within Canada (50%) or came from a school outside Canada (16%)
  • 18% of Heads are not developing any potential successors for potential future headship at their schools

Clearly, there is going to be incredible turnover, and all members of the leadership team are going to need to be more conversant with all aspects of school change.

In 2016, after two rounds of the program, we offer an enhanced opportunity with five facilitators. We surveyed participants; we researched leadership models and competencies; we listened to the advice of Heads, Boards, Leaders, and Search Consultants; and we met as a team to really understand how to best prepare future leaders.

A sincere thank you to the facilitators that are developing our future leaders and shaping the future of education:

  • Val Cambre, CEO, Teal and Co. Inc.
  • David Hadden, retired School Head, Lakefield College School
  • David Robertson, School Head, Shawnigan Lake School
  • Barry Wright, Dean of the Faculty of Business, Brock University

In the fall of 2017, we will have an update for candidates interested in enrolling in the fourth cohort program. In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact Elizabeth Chambers at: echambers@cais.ca.


"I think there are four areas where Next Steps adds great value. The first is an overview of the various aspects that independent school administrators face. As many emerging leaders come from the academic world, an introduction to finance, advancement, HR, operations, risk management, etc can be enlightening. The second, are insights into the broader topic of effective leadership in changing times. The third was the opportunity to dig into a meaningful change project, with the support of mentors and peers. Having a support team as we work through the highs and lows was incredibly valuable. The last area, is the Next Steps community itself. The program accepts a diverse group of individuals with varying formal leadership positions who all share a passion for education, a commitment to personal group and a belief in the work of independent schools in Canada. We shared our professional successes and failures, pushed each other to dig a bit deeper and even enjoyed a little bread and wine together.

Finally a word on our mentors/instructors... CAIS pulled together a wonderfully diverse group of facilitators, who brought passion and knowledge from both within the independent world and beyond. These facilitators clearly cared about our growth journey and went above and beyond to support us for the two years - what a team! "

Neil Piller, St. George’s School, Vancouver

I found the most valuable take away were the relationships built, particularly during year 2 of the program, over the final summer session. I found the group opened up during that second summer session, and members were willing to be vulnerable. It taught me how much having a network of peers – even a few key people – who have shared experiences and are willing to talk about their successes and total mess ups. It made leadership feel a lot less lonely. To top it off, I now have genuine relationships within this network that I can rely on – more so than any amount of “surface” networking at a conference or professional networking event could ever provide. That has most definitely been the greatest takeaway from the Next Step programme."

Katrina Sampson, Appleby College

Next Step Program Cohorts

2018-2019 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - Shawnigan Lake School

2017-2018 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - King's-Edgehill School

2015-2016 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - St. Andrew's College

2013-2014 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - Ridley College

2011-2012 Next Step Cohort - Summer LI - Shawnigan Lake School

Registration for the Next Step Program is closed. Please contact Don Kawasoe (dkawasoe@cais.ca) with any inquiries.