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.

2020 National Leaders Conference

Theme: 2020 Vision of Excellence in Education

Who is invited?
Independent School academic leaders with portfolios in the areas of Junior, Middle and Senior School Principals, IT Directors, Academic/Curriculum Directors.

When & where?
April 5 - 7, 2020 at The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, BC

About the Conference
Each year we develop a unique program of Keynote speakers, Workshops and opportunities for collaboration within and across networks in order to meet the educational needs and interests of our members.

The National Leaders Conference (NLC) is your opportunity to interact with a range of senior-level leaders in your network. For 2020, the audience will be 200+ Academic Leaders.

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2019 Conference in Toronto!


Our Theme Inspired Us

Connected by Complexity & Design.

We live in complex times. It is vital for our schools to be nimble, dynamic and adaptive as, every day, we work to challenge the status quo. The leaders in our schools are dedicated to ensuring that we can equip students to tackle society's most enduring challenges. Through their participation, it is clear that nothing in our schools happens in isolation. Every successful initiative arises through strategic collaboration across the range of academic and operational leaders in our schools. From selecting mission-appropriate students to affirming their success after graduation, our operations and academic teams work in tandem to keep our students at the centre of our decision making and ensure the long-term strength and permanence of our schools.


Who was invited?

Independent School operations leaders with portfolios in the areas of Finance and Facilities, Admissions, Advancement, Marketing and Communications, Human Resources, IT, Academic leaders including Junior, Middle and Senior School Principals and Athletic Directors.

When & where?
April 6, 2019 – Pre-Conference Workshops (optional)
April 7 – 9, 2019 – National Leaders Conference
Delta Hotel Toronto Airport & Conference Centre in Toronto, ON.

NEW in 2019!
Pre-Conference Workshops

Focused and hands-on full day workshops. Attendees could choose one Pre-Conference workshop taking place on Saturday prior to the Conference start.

Attendees had various opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations and dive deeper into some complex and compelling issues facing the independent schools.

Catalytic Conversations – Facilitated conversations allowed attendees to grapple with issues, and bring solutions back to their school.
LightningTalks – Topics were presented in a quick and clear insightful manner followed by group discussion.
Roundtable Discussions – In-depth conversations between presenter and small groups on a specific topic.
School Tours – Planned school tours in the GTA.

2019 NLC Planning Committee Members

Jo-Anne Kingstone, Chair, Aspengrove School
Meagan Enticknap, Elmwood School
Ron Clark, Rundle College
Heather MacDonald, Holy Trinity School
Bob Tarle, TFS, Canada’s International School
Kelsey Edmonds, St. Clement’s School
Anne Marie Kent, Halifax Grammar School
Laura Edwards, Senior Associate, Ross W. Marsh Consulting Group Inc.
Jillian Lamothe, St. John's-Ravenscourt School
Audra August, St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School
Lynda Torneck, Crescent School
Ken Zelez, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School

keynote - Complexity

Jesse Wente
Broadcaster, Advocate & Pop Culture Philosopher

Disrupting Education

Disruption is occurring in many industries and in many ways. From Uber to Netflix, business models, service delivery, and customer engagement are all under pressure to change and evolve at a rapid pace. Some industries are flourishing while being disrupted and some have found disruptors as the forces of change that have made their business obsolete.

How is education being disrupted? How can current educators become disruptors? How can industries, including education, survive and adapt to take advantage of disruption? These are just some of the challenges facing educators and educational institutions today.

In this exclusive and original talk, Ojibwe writer, broadcaster, advocate and Crescent School alumnus, Jesse Wente, discussed his experiences within the independent school environment, the challenges facing educators, and what they can do to survive and thrive in the era of disruption.

keynote - Design

Dan Pontefract, The Pontefract Group
Author, Speaker, Thinker, Leadership Strategist

How Open Are We To Being Open?

In this day and age of constant change there are key questions to ask and answer that relate to the running of a school. Are we open to learn? Are we open to design? Are we open to business? Are we open to change? Are we open to being open?

Any great organizational culture requires the right leadership behaviours to enable success. CAIS schools are no different. An open and engaged culture becomes your competitive advantage. Indeed, becoming an open organization is key to establishing a community full of great problem solvers and design thinkers.

So too, when we commit to being a collaborative leader—and learning the ways of leading engaged employees—we not only become more open and high performing, we become better at thinking. And when our thinking improves, we are then truly open to whatever change comes our way.

In this interactive keynote, best-selling author and leadership strategist, Dan Pontefract, introduced the key facets of a truly engaged, collaborative and open thinking culture, one that inspires a community of problem solvers and thinkers. Attendees left with insights, research, stories and practical tips to genuinely become more open in their practice as a CAIS leader.


NEW in 2019! Pre-Conference Workshops:

Focused and hands-on full day workshops. Attendees could one Pre-Conference workshops taking place on Saturday prior to the Conference start.

Workshop 1


Building and supporting an Enterprise Risk Management system in your school: Why risk management requires an integrated approach within Independent Schools

Pre-Conference Workshop
Speaker: Dr. Ryan Howard and Jalynn Bosley

Workshop Overview
Today’s risk management landscape can be challenging to navigate. Being aware of current best practices is the first step to sustaining a long-term commitment of fulfilling the goals of integrating risk management planning and thinking across your institution. Thankfully, many institutions have begun to, or have already integrated an Enterprise Risk Management approach for dealing with risk. Thinking of risk strategically is imperative for every organization. This workshop is a timely refresher to help Administrators, Faculty, Programmers and Governing Board Members who have any responsibility for risk management decisions within their school.

Workshop 3


Leading from Within: Self and Team

Pre-Conference Workshop
Speaker: Heather Clayton

Workshop Overview
Our world is increasingly complex, requiring us to be agile, and awareness is key. Having to do more, faster, with less resources, puts incredible pressure on leaders. Often, under these conditions, creating space for crucial reflection and planning, gets pushed aside for other more urgent matters. Bring a colleague and join like-minded leaders for a day, in which we seek to PAUSE and to return to our understanding of awareness and aspects of leadership which will serve us and our teams in this complex world.

Workshop 2


Future Ready Institute for School Leaders

Pre-Conference Workshop
Speaker: Sarah Prevette, Future Design School

Workshop Overview
Over 40% of students will be freelancers in the gig economy when they enter the workforce. As the world changes, it is imperative that school strategy focuses on cultivating entrepreneurialism. Learn best practices from the world’s most successful startups and gain hands on experience with easily implementable frameworks that can be leveraged for your own organizational success.

Workshop 4


Open the doors to Innovation: Connecting your Plan to School Strategy

Pre-Conference Workshop
Speaker: Gerry De Fazio, NoTosh Inc (Canada)

Workshop Overview
“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Eisenhower and many others have said this. Strategy is what makes planning a daily activity, and with the right strategy, anyone in a school can take the right action, and take your school somewhere different.This workshop will help you walk away with the start of a plan that connects your role to your school’s strategy. Along the way, you’ll be challenged, tested and entertained in equal measure.

School Tours

Appleby College

Founded in 1911, Appleby College’s mission is to educate and enable young men and women to become leaders of character, major contributors to, and valued representatives of their local, national, and international communities. Appleby inspires its 765 students from grades 7 to 12 to pursue their individual passions through an internationally recognized and innovative academic, athletic, and co-curricular programme that has been founded on the school’s six Pillars of Strength: Academically Vital, Technologically Empowered, Universally Diverse, Community Spirited, Actively Engaged and Globally Responsible. Appleby’s model of educational excellence enables and encourages its students to learn and discover independently and collaboratively, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Havergal College

Since 1894, Havergal has provided young women with an exceptional education in an environment that encourages both inquiry and curiosity, and celebrates community. Through our outstanding curricular and co-curricular programs, we support every girl’s belief in her ability to acquire the knowledge and skills to achieve her goals and to make a difference in the world.

TFS - Canada's International School

TFS – Canada’s International School holds a venerable place in Canada’s history. What started as an educational experiment – the first bilingual immersion school in the country – quickly took root as a new model for schools across cities and finally nation-wide. As the pioneer of French immersion in Canada, TFS has been an innovator since 1962, continuously striving to provide the best possible education.

St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School

Founded in 1891, SMLS has been a leader in education for girls and young women for more than 125 years. As the only CAIS accredited, all-girls school west of the city, our niche is girls and learning. We focus on the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of every girl from Preschool to Grade 12. We understand the developmental stages of girls and work with each girl to ensure that she is known, supported, and challenged to be her best self.

The Sterling Hall School

The Sterling Hall School is an independent day school for boys from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8, founded in 1987. Our school community supports and engages boys during this pivotal period in their lives so that they may reach their full potential. Our dynamic, research-based curriculum is tailored to the way boys learn best. Hands-on, inquiry-based learning combines with strong character education and small classes, resulting in students who are well-equipped to succeed in their secondary and post-secondary education, as well as in their life beyond school.

Greenwood College School

Greenwood opened its doors in 2002 to 72 students in Grades 7 and 9, in a newly renovated building. Today, our school numbers 489 students and more than 90 teachers and staff, and our campus has grown into one of the most advanced facilities among Canadian independent schools. Since its founding, Greenwood has garnered a reputation as a supportive co-ed community where students are engaged, open-minded and at-ease every day.

St. Clement's School

As a leading independent girls’ school in Toronto, St. Clement’s School is recognized for its longstanding commitment to academic rigour and excellence in a small, nurturing environment – but that’s just the beginning. We’re a close-knit community that celebrates creativity, diversity, and innovation, where students from Grades 1 to 12 live, learn, and grow together under one roof. At SCS, every girl is known and valued.

The Leo Baeck Day School

Welcome to a school where students are exploring deeply, inquiring critically and grappling with big ideas and real world issues. Their progressive Jewish education, combined with the global outlook of their International Baccalaureate Programme, shapes the way their students look at the world and their Judaism: with curiosity, with personal meaning and with a sense of collective responsibility. Leo Baeck graduates are equipped with the knowledge of Jewish tradition, the spirit of Tikkun Olam and the confidence and critical thinking skills necessary to navigate our complex world, as global citizens and as modern Jews.

SAVE THE DATE: 2021 National Leaders Conference

Date: April 11 - 13, 2021 at The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, BC
Audience: Operational Leaders
Theme: TBC



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