The other CAIS Annual Heads and Chairs Conference


Has it really been a few weeks since our Annual Heads and Chairs Conference in Vancouver?  Where did the time go?  And how is it possible that I haven’t written about it?  Pathetic really, especially since the Annual Conference is one of the highlights of my year.  You can learn all about our speakers and events in our Multimedia Gallery, and I hope you will check out this year’s Heads Photo.  I want to give a real shout out to Rodger Wright and the Program Committee, as well as the staff at Collingwood, for leading a great conference.  Thank you and congratulations!

But I want to share a different perspective with you about this year’s conference.  We all know how much work goes in to running a great event – our schools do it all the time!  Sheri Little, our CAIS Conference Coordinator, is the epitome of organization, and she had all of us well prepared.  But then you get to the scene and you just don’t know what will happen.  That is the story I want to tell.  You see, a whole other event exists behind the scenes of any conference, and that is the one that really made me smile this year… Take a peek at three things that could have gone wrong:

1.  I walk into our staff room at the Westin Bayshore Hotel and hear this:  “Over or under 200?? He’s pretty tall and fit, would that put him over 200 pounds?”  Sarah and Sheri had to guess at the weight of all Heads and Chairs who were going to fly on a float plane to Shawnigan Lake School to attend the CAIS Boarding School Summit.  Yes.  We had a chart from the airline. Then it got worse (or better?) – there was so much fog that we had to make the decision to cancel the float plane and make alternate bus/ferry arrangements, in one day.  So the good news was that they didn’t have to ask people’s weights; the bad news was that they did have to ask them to leave at 5:15am instead of 8:00am.  Sarah and Sheri handled the whole switcheroo with grace and humour….

2.  On the last day of the conference, I’m asked if I would approve a thank you gift for the security guard.  Sure, but why?  Well, when the boxes of printed materials arrived and Val and Margo were stuffing folders late into the night, they discovered that we had been shorted by the printer.  They found a security guard and begged him to give them access to the photocopying machine.  Not only did he let them use the machine, he copied and helped to stuff folders!  Val and Margo worked their magic to get the job done perfectly by morning…

3.  Before the Strategic Plan presentation, my laptop wasn’t connecting properly.  Jeremy immediately clicked into action, and I had no fear that a new laptop would be found.  After all, our whole team has laptops!  So I thought nothing of it when we started on schedule.  Only later did I find out the extra laptops were in our staff room, and the door handle to our staff room broke – the knob literally fell off! – so every member of the CAIS team along with the hotel staff had to scramble to find a new laptop within ten minutes.  I still don’t know whose laptop we used… Jeremy just smiled and made it happen…

Meanwhile, Jo-Anne managed to meet with tons of people, even when it meant running at 5:00am in the dark in Stanley Park with iPhone flashlights… And then back at the ranch, Chris didn’t even make it into the office because he broke his fingers playing basketball and, on the same day, his wife went into labour – you can’t make this stuff up! (Congratulations to Chris and Agnes on the birth of their baby girl!)

This doesn’t even get into who was sick, who had cancelled, who was supposed to show up but didn’t, and who showed up without registering. 

My guess?  No one noticed.  Ernest Hemingway famously defined courage as “grace under pressure;” but that only partly covers what the CAIS team did in Vancouver behind the scenes.  So I want to thank them for their courage, but also for never letting anyone see the scrambling, never complaining about long hours, for making difficult decisions and taking some risks, for only focusing on others and on solutions, and for doing all of this, while smiling and laughing along the way… 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s