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CAIS Events / COVID-19 Updates

Professional Development and Student event statuses are in flux as we respond to the guidance of health officials. View our event updates here.

Apply to the CAIS Strategic Change Accelerator

The CAIS Strategic Change Accelerator provides the guidance and support for school teams planning important innovative change. Learn more here.

Developing Leaders for Canada's Best Independent Schools


Dates: Wednesday, July 1 at 10:30 a.m. to Saturday, July 4 at 12:45 p.m.
Location: Lakefield College School, Lakefield, ON

Apply Here

In 2000, a group of CAIS Heads had a vision that the national organization should formally develop school leadership capacity. They created the Leadership Institute (affectionately known as the LI) that includes a variety of modules that are specific to the unique nature of independent schools. The modules are facilitated by experienced 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 year. The evidence of success is twofold:

  • 26 current Heads have completed at least 1 module and 11 current CAIS Heads have completed the LI
  • 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 additional 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. As a result, we launched the Next Step Program that requires an application process, endorsement of the participant’s Head of School, a proposed change project and a commitment to self assessment.  The program is bookended by two face to face summer sessions and features check in meetings throughout the academic year in between the two summers. To date, 5 current CAIS Heads of School are Next Step graduates.

CAIS has developed the CAIS Leadership Praxis (the practical action of a theory) that identifies 

  • Aspects of character and motivation
  • The knowledge, competencies and the actions demonstrated by effective school leadership.

These are critical as leaders develop school improvement plans to create the best possible learning environment for students. With this foundational document, input from our Leadership Institutes and feedback from last year’s Heads and Chairs conference, we will be revising our Leadership Institute and making adjustments to the Next Step program and Heads Retreat. 

Graduates of the LI program, interested in continuing their leadership development, are invited to apply for a position in the fifth cohort of the Next Step Program who will assemble at Lakefield College School in early July 2020. The fee for the program will be $2,500.00 per summer which includes all programming, meals and double occupancy accommodation in the student residences.

Please contact Elizabeth Chambers, Professional Learning Coordinator, with any questions.


"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