Along with data/finance, assessment, and marketing, SSATB has prioritized leadership development as a core component of its professional development services. I’ve focused on the leadership strand the last few years, becoming more confident in my ability as a leader and eager to explore ways to develop my leadership skills. This past year, I took the plunge -- I applied and was accepted to the NAIS Fellowship for Aspiring School Heads (FASH). It has truly been a transformational experience.
FASH is a yearlong program that provides an incredibly well-rounded set of resources to its fellows. Among these are dedicated programming at two NAIS Annual Conferences, a weeklong residential program in Atlanta, a faculty mentor who regularly connects with you throughout the year, and a generative group project created with fellows in your mentor group.
There are many exceptional facets to my experience that stand out, but I’ll focus on three:
The first is the faculty - NAIS intentionally selected a highly talented and diverse group of school heads who represent the future of our schools. They directly addressed the dearth of women and people of color in independent school leadership (and in our meeting room) and how to change that paradigm. I believe part of that paradigm shift is to grow leaders from the admission track, as our representation is diverse and our commitment to access and equity is strong.
The second is the dynamic and relevant curriculum. There was a day devoted to exploring our own leadership style through a mix of analysis and fun activities that helped us connect with other fellows. From crisis management, finance, personal health, governance, advancement, and the head search process, the faculty gave us the real view of what it means to be a head of school and what you need to know. At the same time, they were evangelists for their profession and coaches to help us actualize headship.
The third facet is the mentor/mentee relationship. I was thoughtfully assigned a mentor, Andy Rodin from Phoenix Country Day School, and a great group of fellows to collaborate with on the group project. Andy has admission experience and has served in a variety of schools. He took an interest in me right away and really has helped me discover what I may offer my current school as well as what future career pathways make sense.
I share my experience with you to spark your interest in taking that next step in your leadership development. FASH has been an amazing learning experience, and many of you are poised to participate in future cohorts. I encourage you to lean in to the possibilities for your career and be open and attracted to strong leadership development programs like FASH.
"Adding Head of School to Your Resume," article in Fall 2014 The Yield
"Reflections from a New Head," article in Winter 2013 The Yield
"A Seat At the Table," article in Summer 2013 The Yield