I attended the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) heads’ retreat and winter board meeting in Portsmouth, NH, this week. It was inspiring, reinvigorating, and a worthwhile pause and reflection during another busy school year. This spring, after two terms over six years, I will step off of AISNE’s board, where I serve as secretary. I am fortunate to serve on two other boards—the Elementary School Heads Association (ESHA), a national organization for independent school heads of pre-k to grade 8 schools, and Concord Academy, a local independent high school—and each has needed to navigate and adapt to the ever-changing education landscape.
The turbulence experienced over the past six years here at Belmont Day, and throughout the region, the nation, and the world has been significant. Serving on AISNE’s board during this time has been a privilege that provided extraordinary learning opportunities. I participated in a merger that brought the Independent Schools Association of Northern New England (ISANNE) into the fold with AISNE. These northern New England schools are new to our orbit, and I have learned from them that the challenges that Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine face are different from those we face in Metro Boston. I have also been a part of AISNE’s adaptive and proactive response to the pandemic, which resulted in a weekly call between local heads to support one another through the most demanding days. All of this, and still the so-called regular business of the organization—supporting the accreditation process for member schools, the transition of the executive leadership of the organization itself, and imagining a strategic future for our schools—has provided some of the best professional development I could have ever hoped for.
As mentioned here, Belmont Day’s AISNE accreditation self-study year is well underway. We are looking closely at the systems, processes, and operations that allow the school to deliver on our aspirational mission to inspire and challenge. Because of the thorough refinement that my AISNE board colleagues have done on the process, we confidently engage in the healthy and good practice of investigating the school’s strengths and opportunities for growth.
School leaders often observe that the strategic view of a school is from 30,000 feet. If that is so, then the work of AISNE is done somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 feet, and the perspective from there has been wonderful, with the mountains and valleys clearly in view. I am only entitled to serve two terms in this role, but if I could stay longer, I would. This May, AISNE will recognize my service, but the truth is, all the appreciation is mine. It has been a tremendous run with a meaningful and important organization.