Independent School Leadership

“It exceeded my expectations”

That was the answer I got from my son Jacob when I asked him what he thought of the movie we saw last night. I agreed with his response – we watched A Good Year outdoors at Jackson Triggs Winery and the whole night under the stars was magical – but I thought it was a funny expression and told him that.

“Well, I have typed that comment many times in the past three days so it is the first thing I thought of.”

I asked Jacob to type the comments from our new feedback forms from the Summer Leadership Institute. We love feedback at CAIS, and we use it to make improvements every year. When Jo-Anne added this additional option this summer so we could have even more feedback, we were thrilled. (Note to faculty, you will get your individual feedback next month!).

I hadn’t looked at the feedback yet, so as we drove home last night, I had to ask, “What else did you learn?”

The thing is, this was my fifth Summer LI, and I felt like the week went well, really well. It was pretty warm the first night, but we have had three years in a row of heat waves, so this crowd expects nothing but hot. My favourite nights were the speeches – first by Margaret Dorrance and Michel Lafrance as our New Leaders who are CAIS LI Grads, and then Will Mitchel and Deryn Lavell as our Art of Leadership Speakers. They knocked it out and we will post them this summer. I also loved my round-table discussion with the Next Step group – their projects are important and they are a passionate group who will no doubt go on to lead our schools. And as a treat this year, I had the chance to get to know Ian Chisholm who was with us for the first time leading new modules on leadership. He was a star. Truly! But I must say, as I wandered in and out of classrooms and observed the learning, I was really impressed with the high level of engagement and enthusiasm in every single program. I didn’t get to watch the Heads Institute with Michael Thompson and Rob Evans, but I did read the emails afterwards that included words like “inspired” “excited” and “invigorated.”

So I was anxious to hear what others thought, and it was fun to hear it from the perspective of a 15 year old who only knows that his Mom goes to the LI while he is at Onondaga Camp. These are my favourite three comments, according to Jacob:

1. Did someone named Beth really make butter tarts? Everyone LOVED them.

2. John did well. So did Ian. Name some others and I will tell you about them too.

3. Mom, listen closely to this – some of the classrooms were too small for a big group of adults. Adults do not like to feel crowded. And the first day was too long. For sure.

For the rest of the drive home, we didn’t discuss the movie. Instead, I named a faculty, and he told me he or she did well. He would try to remember specific comments and I would fill in the details. He was surprised to learn that our friend Barry Wright is the same Barry that got good reviews. The fact is, Jacob probably could have just said that ALL faculty were popular and the week was a success, because that is what we eventually learned. But that wouldn’t have been as fun, which is a good reminder that it is the journey, not the destination, that matters most.

p.s. Thanks to Ed Kidd for hosting us at Ridley College and to the entire faculty for their dedication and passion. Thanks also to the 180 attendees – a record number for us! Fact is, EVERYONE exceeded expectations.

p.s. Watch the Summer LI 2014 slideshow here.

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