Independent School Research Summit

Imagine this – it is 8:30pm on the evening before a long weekend.  A woman wearing a business suit, lugging a laptop bag and purse while pulling a suitcase, is skipping stairs up the escalator and sprinting through the Atlanta airport.  Her heart is racing.  She knows that there is not another flight this evening because she has already done that research in the first airport when she knew her first flight was delayed.  She knows that she does not have a moment to spare.  She is desperate to get home because her 12 year old daughter is having a birthday party sleepover with her friends and cousins.

Do you wish this story ends a certain way?  I know I did.  Sadly, last Thursday night, despite my best efforts, I got to my gate six minutes after my connecting flight had shut the doors and so I spent an unexpected night in Atlanta.

Somewhere just after 8:30pm, when I had texted my husband and kids with the update that I wouldn’t be home, I got a text from my colleague Sarah who asked if I made my connecting flight.  With all of her international travel, she knows this scene all too well.  I replied, “PPP.”  This has become our code for rotten news.  It means: Pity Party Please.

The whole concept of living in the moment does not seem to apply at these times.  In fact, travel mishaps are actually some of the most challenging parts of my job – flight delays can leave you in a strange city, late at night, alone, and homesick – how do you snap out of wallowing in that woes me whine?

That night provided another reminder of the need to focus on what is good.  And I mean to really train your brain to shift from that unbecoming state and instead think about gratitude.  In Thursday’s case, I had had an amazing day.

A group of educational leaders of national and international organizations met in Ashville, North Carolina this week for an Independent School Research Summit.  It seems that all schools are hungry for research and some schools are in trouble, so there is a sense of urgency for associations to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of collaborative research.  At this time, all of our associations – even the big ones! – recognize this challenge:  we have big questions and small shops.

As those of you who work with me know, I really believe that we can do things better together, so I was grateful to be invited to participate.

In our next news letter, I will give you a summary of the great work underway with my colleagues at NAIS, TABS, NCGS, CASE, NBOA, CSEE, AISAP, SSATB, INDEX.  There is an exciting new initiative, and CAIS is proud to participate in this North American effort to identify possible opportunities for larger-scale research about independent schools.

Our next meeting will be in Washington.  I might drive.  And I will definitely bring the kids with me.

p.s.  Two articles you need to read:

1.  NYT on Tony Wagner (Who will be at our Summer LI along with the CWRA)

2.  The amazing case of Hotchkiss’s international travel legal case

A blog is not a newsletter

I am tempted to write about last week’s conference on ‘Strategy and Sustainability’ – I have heard from many people that it was valuable and some have even said it was the best gathering ever.  But a blog is not a newsletter, so I will include the updates on our website.

I also want to write about the value of accreditation – our third review of the year started this afternoon, and I have enjoyed reading the email exchanges between the Visiting Committee members before and after the visits.  But rather than blog about them, I am going to include those in the November newsletter.

I really want to describe the tour with the ten agents in 18 of our boarding schools – they said things like, “I used to send students to the UK but now I will encourage them to choose Canada first” and “I had no idea that CAIS schools were so amazing.”  I had a great time with them, especially when we got to fly in a float plane from Vancouver to Shawnigan Lake, and I mean we landed on the dock of Shawnigan.  But I will include a photo and link to social media for those updates.

Why not write about three great happenings with CAIS?  Because Sarah Milligan often reminds me that a blog is not a newsletter.  It is supposed to be a personal online diary, and she doesn’t want me to bore anyone with CAIS updates.  Communications should be appropriate to the medium.

So what do I blog about on this rainy Sunday afternoon?  Sometimes I get carried away with work and need to focus on other things – so here are a few other things in my life:

Two weeks ago, right before the conference, agent tour and reviews, Kevin and I went on a four-day road trip with two other couples.  That’s six adults in one car for ten hours each way.  I was reminded that I should take time to do something crazy… even when life is busy – maybe especially when life is busy.

We went to Charlottesville Virginia.  In the downtown area is an outdoor mall with a chalkboard wall with two words at the top:  Practice thinking. I loved it.  Then we went off to Blenheim, the winery that Dave Matthews started. Not only is he an amazing musician – we blasted his music for most of the trip – but he is creative.  My favorite lines from ‘You and Me’ are still in my head:  ‘When the kids are old enough, we’re gonna to teach them to fly.’  Sometimes we need to go on a search for what is beautiful.

Our friend Lisa, who inspired our little trip, is about to go through another round of chemo.  Her cancer has spread to her lungs and liver, and yet she is the most positive person I have ever met. We talked and laughed – and sang – all weekend.

That’s what I feel like writing in my online diary.  Thank goodness I blog because I would hate to spend my afternoon doing work…