Community Member Post

Did you write a post conference reflection?
If you have a reflection from the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference, send a message to with the URL or text and get it noticed in the broader NAIS Online Community.


Amy Chua
Education and Success
“Are you a monster?” may have been what many educators in the audience of the closing general session speaker, Yale Law School Professor Amy Chua, were wondering, but it was Meredith Viera who asked the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother that very question during her interview on the Today Show in 2011. However, instead of the “monster” that the press had built up in the minds of the public, the 4,200 audience members at the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference in Seattle found the speaker to be charming, funny, sometimes self-deprecating, thoughtful, and intelligent…MORE

INFOGRAPHIC: Amy Chua- Education and Success

Soraya Darabi
Social Networking Services
Internationally known social media maven Soraya Darabi enraptured the audience of independent school leaders attending the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference in Seattle as she spoke eloquently and expertly about social networking services and emerging media. Self-defined tech addict and media fiend with great wanderlust, Darabi possesses an innate ability to recognize trends as they emerge. She stands out in the Digerati community for both her professional expertise as well as her innovative charity work online…MORE

Dan Savage
It Gets Better
“If you told my teachers in the fourth grade at St. Ignatius that I would address a room full of educators, they never would have stopped throwing up,” Dan Savage colorfully told the standing-room-only ballroom of independent school leaders at the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference in Seattle. He kept us glued to our seats the entire hour, invoking tears and outrage at the bullying that still pervades our schools and communities….MORE

INFOGRAPHIC: Dan Savage- It Gets Better


Shelley Krause
NAIS in Seattle
The last time I attended the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference was when it was in NYC a few years back. This year, the conference was in Seattle, and the likelihood of my being able to take time away from work to travel so many miles from home during application-review season seemed somewhat remote. But then the session proposal that two of my colleagues and I pulled together was accepted, and…MORE

Brad Rathgeber
Reflections on NAIS and a West Coast Swing
Late Friday night, I got home from my second trip to the West Coast in three weeks. The first trip was for the NAIS Annual Conference and the second was to see some of the great OSG school in Los Angeles. Both trips confirmed for me something that I have been feeling in my travels throughout the year: change is really (and finally) happening across the board within independent schools. Perhaps paradoxically, it seems to me that this change has been sped up in the last year by a number of schools who…MORE

Richard Kassissieh
Are Independent Schools Innovating?
The theme of innovation pervaded this year’s NAIS annual conference. Keynote speeches looked toward a different future, some schools shared innovative projects, and more responded enthusiastically and expressed the desire to participate. Does this mean that significant numbers of independent schools are substantially changing their educational programs, or not? Brad Rathgeber thinks so. Kevin Ruth says, “not so fast.”…MORE

Anthony McGrann
My Take-Aways from the Tiger Mom
The closing keynote at the NAIS conference was Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. A year ago, the press used this book to paint a portrait of a villainous mother. The media generalized the differing parenting styles of Chinese and Americans making inflammatory statements in their headlines such as the Wall St. Journal’s “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.”…MORE



 Bill Gates Talk Keeps on Giving
Bill Gates has posted a video of his talk on the Gates Notes site along with an article and links. Additionally, you can read about his talk as reported by one of the NAIS reporters.

Resource links shared by Bill Gates

Pat Bassett Presentation Slides
If you are from an NAIS member school, you may access any of Pat Bassett’s presentation slides. Simply follow the link and search for the presentation you want to view. You will find slides from the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference and more. Follow this link to access slide collection.


Jaime Field Baker
We are the 1%: NAIS in Seattle
It has been a week since I flew back from Seattle where I participated in the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference, along with 4500 other people.  There is one thing I heard in Seattle that I can’t quite get off my mind. This year’s conference was particularly…MORE

Jaime Field Baker
Moving from Why to How: Becoming an Entrepreneurial School
Thanks to the NAIS Annual Conference 2012 for creating this create Storify of our session about moving from Why Innovate to How Innovate. We had a terrific session full of engaged and sincere school leaders, administrators, board members, and teachers.  The questions were…MORE

Mark Crotty
Leadership as Life and Death
Gradually since the tragedy at Columbine High School, we’ve become a bit more numbed to school shootings. For example, I don’t think I heard anyone mention the recent one near Cleveland. Of course, as a head of school, they register quite loudly with me. The safety and well-being of everyone here is my primary concern. Safety and security is a standing item on our administrative meeting agendas; we’ve been re-evaluating all our…MORE

Steve de Beer
Sleepless in Seattle
I am writing this entry from afar, as I enjoy the privilege of attending the conference of the National Association of Independent Schools in Seattle, Washington. There are over 4,000 people here from all over the country, from Canada, and from independent schools across the world. I’m sleepless, not so much from the cranky heating system in my hotel room, nor from the sirens wailing below on the downtown streets.  It’s from excitement…MORE

Muddy at Pike
The Importance of Recharging our Learner Batteries
As I write this, I am at the National Association of Independent School’s annual conference in Seattle. Every year, I wrestle with whether or not to leave Pike to come to conferences like this. I worry about untaught classes, email piling up, meetings that need to be rescheduled and more, and yet, here I am. WHY: Our…MORE



Online Independent Schools: Defining a New Generation of Excellence- A white Paper
The OSG and GOA have joined together to publish a white paper on the role of independent schools in online learning. You are encouraged to take a moment and watch their short video and read the paper. The blog is open for comments, which they also invite…MORE

The Community Daily- March 2, 2012
Collection of tweets from the greater online community. Check out this issue and…MORE


Soraya Darabi
Social Networking Service
Internationally known social media maven Soraya Darabi enraptured the audience of independent school leaders attending the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference in Seattle as she spoke eloquently and expertly about social networking services and emerging media. Self-defined tech addict and media fiend with great wanderlust, Darabi possesses an innate ability to recognize trends as they emerge. She stands out in the Digerati community for…MORE

Randall Dunn
Mr. Gates
This was my first in-person Bill Gates encounter. Mr. Gates presentation was not fancy but informative with a nice hint of humor: a fine vintage. His statement at the outset, coupled with a high school graduation picture, that he did not need to seek any other diploma after his NAIS high school diploma was a nice way to start…MORE

Randall Dunn
Headship: Unpredictable and distinctive
My first event at the 2012 NAIS annual conference was the preconference 3 hour workshop; Making the Headship Work in Today’s World. The session was attended by aspiring, recently named, new and experienced heads of school…MORE

 Kathy O’Neal
Finding Socioeconomically Diverse Students Who Are Ready for Success
I don’t know of an independent school in my area that isn’t interested in increasing the socioeconomic diversity of their student body. I strongly agree with this panel that this is a critically important issue for our schools…MORE

Mike Brown
Of course, we’re innovative!
It amazes me each year to see what other schools are doing with their students.  As Pat Bassett demonstrated, we have students that we need to get out of their way and let them work.  These students are teaching us and broadening our…MORE

Mike Brown
What is holding our schools back?
Bill Gates challenged us to reflect upon this question?  So often I am focused on meeting the “magic” admission number or annual fund goal, or whether I have returned all the parent’s calls and how I am going to find the…MORE


Bill Ivey
Real World Issues
The 2012 National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference has begun, with Sally in attendance representing our school. On Thursday on Twitter, someone named Bo Adams commented on remarks by Pat Bassett, the President of NAIS: “Pat Bassett shows exemplars of innovative school practice…MORE

The following collection covers many of the tweets from the first full day of the NAIS 2012 Annual Conference in Seattle. This issue features the opening session with Bill Gates, Speed Innovation, Independent Matters speakers Stephen Carter, Cheryl Crazy bull and Sarah Kay. Other featured tweets come from Soraya Darabi’s session on Creativity and the emerging media, opening comments by Pat Bassett and comments on the wonderful performance of the Northwest School A Capella group. Read the Issue of NAIS Day 1 in Tweets


What have you learned at this year’s Annual Conference- Post to the Community
If you are at the conference or following from a distance and would like to write about your experience and have it posted in The Daily Find, simply send the URL to your blog or text of your post to It will be posted or linked in a future issue of The Daily Find with attribution to you as author. Share your experience and what you have learned at this year’s conference focused around INNOVATION.

Wall of Innovation
What have you found to be an INNOVATION in education? Post your ideas on the Wall of Educational Innovation. This is easy, fun and will not take much time to leave your mark. Post your idea of INNOVATION in education at:

A Word About Wireless at the Conference (or lack of)
If you are here and have wondered why there is a lack of wireless Internet access at a conference focused around innovation, take a moment to read this post from last year’s Annual Conference as it clearly defines the issues with wireless at large conference centers…MORE


Opening Session at NAIS AC 2012 with Bill Gates
The session opened with a wonderful performance by the Northwest School a capella choir. The song of peace was a wonderful way to open the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference in Seattle. The voices of the youth expressing their dream for a day when there would be no war. This was followed by…MORE

Why I Need NAIS conferences
Today started out cold, wet, and windy. My umbrella inverted in the wind, my school called to ask how to handle a situation, and then I stepped into the Conference Center…MORE

Key Ingredients for  Headship
What are key ingredients for a sane, successful, and sustainable headship?…MORE

Live Blog of Opening Session with Bill Gates
Replay the opening session as LIVE BLOGGED by conference blogger Sarah…MORE

Best Practice in Neurodiversity
Wow, these two presenters know their stuff! Honestly, I’m not a teacher, so I entered this three hour workshop with some dread. However, I learned so much that I couldn’t help but wish that all teachers had access to this kind of professional development…MORE

Bill Gates- General Session Featured Speaker
Who better to speak at the AC in Seattle than the quintessential product of independent school education and the godfather of innovation, Bill Gates. As a Seattle native who has yet to hear Bill Gates speak in person, I’m as eager as the other 4000+ attendees to hear from Bill…MORE

Transformative Communication Advocacy, Admissions, and Advancement
Get in the social media game and tell your school’s story because in reality other  people are already out there telling their version of your story. Not surprisingly, this workshop from staff of the Ranney School is packed, standing room only…MORE

NAIS 2012: Design Thinking and Schools
The 2012 NAIS Annual Conference, held in the beautiful Pacific Northwest town of Seattle, represents my fifth straight annual conference, my fourth as a presenter and my second as an official conference blogger capturing the conference’s highlights. Yesterday, I was fortunate to attend a pre-conference workshop led by…MORE


Mark Crotty
Sleepless- but not in Seattle
So the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference is going on in Seattle, and I’m still in Dallas. I think I’ve missed only two of these in the past couple of decades, so it feels rather strange. And this year’s program looked particularly inviting. So I’m really kind of bummed not to be there. However, it simply wasn’t a good time to get away because of too many things happening at once. Plus this Friday night is our annual gala, which our fabulous PA puts on every year and will be spectacular. So if I’m going to miss, it’s for a great reason…MORE

Jonathan Martin
Open Computer Testing: the NAIS session slides and videos
Check out the collection of slides, videos and resources from this session…MORE

Anthony McGrann
What is a Tweet-Up?
I just got back from a ‘tweet-up’ tonight at the Pike Pub & Brewery. It was an interesting concept of gathering folks who use twitter to share and learn from each other. Many thanks to Greg Bamford for organizing this event…MORE

Peter Gow
Assessing Assessment
This afternoon I attended the annual meeting of the Independent Curriculum Group, and for a pretty mellow group of educators we got ourselves kind of stirred up, in a good way. As an organization we aim to get schools talking about curriculum, and about why it’s a good thing for schools to develop their capacities to create their own. This year we’ve been focused on assessment, with groups of teachers, administrators, and…MORE

Posted on behalf of Shannon K’doah Range of the San Francisco Friends School

At the San Francisco Friends School, we have a lot to say. We are only nine years old and we are the first Quaker school in San Francisco. We are constantly educating our current and prospective parents about what we do, what a Quaker education means, and why silence is revered in a Friends school. We use a lot of the usual tools to get our messages and information out:  e-newsletters, Facebook posts, quarterly magazines, snail mail letters. We try and target our communications to specific audiences: our current parents, prospective parents, our young alumni, our immediate urban neighborhood.

But are we having any success? We spend hours and days and weeks and months pushing out our key messages about our schools, telling nuanced, carefully-written stories about our fantastic programs, and designing beautiful promotional materials. But rarely is that feedback loop closed. We hear some thanks from this parent, a critique from that parent, some feedback from a teacher, and other crumbs from various sources. What we don’t have is a real sense, beyond these anecdotal accounts, of whether people are hearing what we are saying.

To some extent, this is due to the nature of independent school communities. They are not set up for rigorous feedback loops about communications, responding to surveys or attending focus groups. Members of independent school communities receive information about the school from so many direct and indirect sources, it is nearly impossible to pin down what techniques and tools really move the needle in managing perceptions of the school and conveying messages about a school.

This is one of the many challenges I face at the San Francisco Friends School, a young K-8 school in the urban Mission district of San Francisco. What would really help me in addressing these issues is to hear what other communications teams are doing. Learning peer-to-peer would be a great source of understanding and collegial support.

If other independent school communicators are interested in discussing issues like communications feedback, strategic planning, or digital vs. print publications, I invite you to come to our pre-conference Communications Roundtable. A group of 20+ communicators is planning to meet in Seattle on Wednesday, February 29 from 10am-12pm at the Hyatt Olive 8 right before NAIS kicks off.

If you are interested in joining us, please go to our Google Group at and request an invitation. We’d love to have your experience, stories, and insights in the room as we collectively face our individual communications challenges.

Written by Shannon K’doah Range, Director of Communications, San Francisco Friends School