#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy
St. Andrew's College to Open School School for Girls
St. Andrew's College (SAC) announced today that it plans to open St. Anne's School, an independent school for girls, in Aurora. The school will operate under the St. Andrew's College umbrella and will be modelled after SAC. "We recognize our responsibility to evolve and lead in a manner that will meet the requirements of the world for the next 120 years. Providing the same educational opportunities for girls is an important part of that responsibility. A school of this calibre will be uniquely positioned to contribute significantly to the field of girls' education and the development of strong, influential, and empowered female leaders in our community and around the world," said Head of School, Kevin McHenry.
You can read more about St. Anne's School here and watch a video here.
#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments
Rebuilding for a New Normal
With support from the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Partnership for Resilience studied the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its trauma-responsive schools. The Partnership provided a set of recommendations for meeting the significant challenges posed by the pandemic:
- Wrap "safety and care" around students and adults through expanded attention to social and emotional needs of students, parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators.
- For the 2020-21 school year, focus on social emotional learning, universal behavioral supports, restorative practices, cultural relevance, and relationship building.
- Help teachers reach their students through training on pedagogies and curriculum that align with virtual or social distanced settings. This could include inquiry-based learning, community service-based learning, or flipped classroom models.
- Seize new opportunities to prioritize teacher-student connection/relationships, social emotional learning, and family engagement.
#3: Academic Program
In this Cult of Pedagogy blog post, Jennifer Gonzalez offers several suggestions for teaching this year, including experimenting with cameras and screens and optimizing discussion time. She recommends that educators, "Consider teaching in a post-COVID world to be the most massive project-in-Beta ever. It's going to be messy, but that's how humans learn and grow and adapt. Continue to experiment, fall apart on the days when it's your turn (because everyone seems to need a turn every now and then), ask students and parents for feedback, observe other teachers when you can, and most importantly, keep giving yourself and your students grace."
#4: School Leadership
Leaders, Are You Feeling the Burden of Pandemic-Related Decisions?
Writing for Harvard Business Review, consultant Liz Kislik says conscientious business leaders feel guilt about the impact COVID-19 has had on their employees and customers. Fortunately, Kislik advises that leaders can reframe their feelings of guilt "into a trigger to help you reevaluate and improve the way you approach your employees and company, and demonstrate compassionate leadership in difficult circumstances" by taking the following actions:
- Take preemptive action.
- Don't separate yourself from your team.
- Correct your own mistakes as publicly as possible.
- Provide extra support for people who need it.
- Model appropriate behaviour to set a healthy example.
- Focus on appreciation and gratitude.
#5: Human Resources
How to Defeat Busy Culture
Serenity Gibbons is a consultant who helps companies, including Salesforce, Dell, and Oracle, build healthy work cultures. In this Harvard Business Review article, she writes, "all companies get busy. The trick is to keep that busyness from becoming chronic and cultural, because when that happens, it also becomes corrosive - no matter how productive or positive it may seem." Gibbons says leaders can use three strategies to combat toxic "busy" culture: incentivize boundary-setting, saying "no" to tasks that don't align with your primary duties, and have social connections exert positive peer pressure.
#6: School & Community
The case for need-based scholarships is the case for our future
In this article, Melinda Church, who leads GG+A's practice in Strategic Communications, advises "when you're articulating the impact of philanthropic support for financial aid, include elements that are individual, broad, and fundamental." Though this article is written for college and university presidents, gift officers, and writers, the following considerations also apply to independent schools:
- Start with your unique mission, aspirations, and donors.
- Understand the scale of the challenge. Providing definitive answers right now is nearly impossible, so the point is to make your best approximation using past data and current insights.
- Tell the story of what's at stake, and for whom. Make the numbers of students who need help personal and compelling by telling illustrative stories of individual students - past and present - whose educations would not have been possible without private support.
- Use powerful words that matter like integrity, promise, nobility, responsibility, and purpose.
#7: Enrolment Management
Outdoor 'forest schools' see enrolment rise
Since the onset of the pandemic, forest schools have seen a surge in popularity and principals are preparing for more students this fall and winter. Many forest schools run only one or two days a week and are designed to complement -- not replace -- traditional classroom learning. Students spend the entire day outside, and the focus is more on social and emotional development and physical components and less on the academic curriculum.
Also worth a read: Virtual schools have faced a steep learning curve, but parents still want in as COVID-19 cases rise
Investors remind business leaders: Governance matters
This McKinsey article is written for public corporations who may face governance-related demands by activist investors; however, many of the key takeaways are relevant to nonprofit Boards as well, including:
- About 70 percent of all activist-investor demands over the past decade have focused on governance.
- Senior management and board members should respond to increased external pressures by continually reviewing their governance efforts and considering the best ways to shore up their governance credentials.
- Companies should create a more inclusive and professional board by proactively adding to the current composition of the group, clarifying expectations for board members, and reviewing its level of engagement.
- Senior management and boards must give stakeholders a coherent narrative about major decisions and the potential effect on corporate performance.
- Stakeholders continue to make it clear that the impact of any business on the environment and society matters to them.
The Providence Country Day School is a college preparatory school serving students in grades 6-12. This week, the school announced a tuition reset for the 2021-2022 academic year: high school tuition will drop from $39,250 to $25,000; middle school from $34,400 to $22,000. "Our administration and board believe in taking definitive action, so when we looked at the disparity between the range of students who succeed here and who can afford the tuition - and how that clashed with our core principles - we felt compelled to reduce that cost substantially," said Kevin Folan, Head of School.
#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety
The Coronavirus Mostly Spares Younger Children. Teens Aren't So Lucky.
This New York Times article looks at a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found teenagers are about twice as likely to become infected with COVID-19 as younger children. The CDC research suggests that "young persons might be playing an increasingly important role in community transmission," and Dr. Megan Ranney, an expert in adolescent health at Brown University, stresses the importance for schools to maintain safety precautions to keep the virus from spreading.
#11: Commitment to School Improvement
Why We Need to Open Our Virtual Classroom Doors and See Each Other Teach
In this Altitude Learning blog post, Katie Martin says that while there is more collaboration than ever to design new models, practices, and support students, too many teachers are designing and teaching in isolation. Martin writes, "This is the time to increase collaboration and open our virtual classroom doors to observe, learn, and improve" and elaborates on four ways to do so:
- Celebrate What's Working
- Observe Each Other
- Collaborate and Learn Together
- Problem Solve What's Not Working
#12: Boarding Program
Government introduces new border measures to protect Canadian public health, provides update on travel restrictions
The Canadian government is expanding its travel exemptions to allow further family reunification and let more international students into Canada, while stepping up quarantine and tracing efforts to prevent COVID-19 transmissions through the border. These processes will provide for the entry of international students, starting October 20, 2020, if they will be attending a designated learning institution that has been identified by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID-19 readiness plan in place.
Colleges are exploding with COVID and have lax testing. One school is keeping cases down.
This USA Today article looks at how Colby College in Maine is keeping coronavirus cases at bay so far. According to the article, "As the pandemic drags on, Colby's success could provide a framework for colleges to emulate, even partially: robust testing, strict mask-wearing, restricted social gatherings and willing students. Its failure may mean even the most abundant precautions and financing can't save the traditional, and safe, in-person semester until the development of a vaccine."