Top Three Attributes of a Successful School Leader

Brenda Hamm | May 25, 2024

A quick search for “attributes of a successful educational leader” produces a plethora of sites to check out. Each provides a list of attributes. Regardless if the site is Pinterest (yep!), or a respected academic organization’s website, or something in between, the lists are pretty similar to one another suggesting there is actually a finite number of characteristics that make up a successful educational leader…Read more »


Succession Planning to Set Schools Up for Long-Term Success

André Withers | May 22, 2024

In the spring of 2021, Dan Vorenberg, head of school at Mirman School (CA), began a purposeful conversation with the board chair about his plans to retire at the end of the 2023–2024 school year. Vorenberg, who has led independent schools for more than 22 years, including 11 years at Mirman, explained: “I was entering my 42nd year in education. I had a specific set of markers I had hoped to achieve at Mirman, which I did….Read more »


Meaningful and Lasting Relationships With Schools

Sally Mixsell | May 18, 2024

In the shifting landscape of independent secondary school education, Educators Collaborative partners are ready to respond to the myriad needs of schools. We love what we do. As EC partners, we regularly exchange information with one another about our ongoing searches identifying patterns emerging in independent schools and clarifying our strategic priorities…Read more »


Your Mission, Should You Choose to Celebrate It

Brenda Hamm | January 22, 2024

How about a New Year’s resolution for your school? Better yet, how about a New Year’s tradition? Not surprisingly, there are a ton of online discussions regarding New Year’s resolutions. Here are a couple of my favorites from Reddit…Read more »


Leading as You: Kittens and Puppies

Tracy Bennett | January 14, 2024

“Wild Geese” is a beloved poem by Mary Oliver and a lovely read on any day. However, I am guessing that many of the two dozen division heads on the screen wondered how this verse would connect to developing leadership skills…Read more »


Hold on to Your Head!

George Sanderson | January 08, 2024

The shorter average tenure of heads of school in recent years has been well documented – both anecdotally and in data collected by NAIS. While this trend may have short-term benefits for the business of firms such as Educators Collaborative, shorter tenures result in a lack of continuity in leadership and are an impediment to long-term strategic planning...Read more »


Are You Ready for A Diverse Candidate Pool?

Mary Seppala | October 06, 2023

In our work as search consultants, schools frequently ask us to provide statistics on our track record of recruiting candidates who represent diversity, and by diversity they mean people of color. But when it comes to finding and hiring diverse leadership…Read more »


Kids are Feeling the Heat

Brenda Hamm | October 04, 2023

Schools are all about the future and the potential of our children and what they will become or do. But what if students in your school aren’t feeling terribly optimistic about that future? There is growing evidence that climate change is having an impact…Read more »


Mindset of a Millennial Board Chair

André Withers | October 02, 2023

One unexpected realization from my search work is that more and more board members and board chairs are now my age. Enter the free-thinking, avocado-eating, sneaker-wearing millennial leaders! This shift in board composition is worth noting and promoting…Read more »


Thinking Outside The Inbox: Email Management

Nat Conard | July 23, 2023

If you have never despaired at the state of your email inbox or felt that reading and replying to email consumes an inordinate amount of your time then, please, feel free to skip this article. If, however, you’re among the other 99% of school leaders, read on!….Read more »


Leadership With a Focus On Personal Growth

Brenda Hamm | July 20, 2023

Shifting gears, the next group of (7) recommended books speaks to your own personal development as a leader. What are the characteristics of an effective leader? What’s your leadership style? What might make you a better leader? What are other leaders saying? Educators Collaborative partners recommend any and all of these to both practicing and aspiring educational leaders alike….Read more »


For Your Nightstand

Brenda Hamm | June 15, 2023

Stop, drop, and read! Here are several great reads, in alphabetical order by author, recommended by E.C. partners to add to your nightstand or to bring with you on vacation…..Read more »


Summer Reading List

Brenda Hamm | June 13, 2023

Summer is the perfect time to do some extracurricular reading, whether that means honing your leadership skills or escaping from day-to-day routines. You can’t get away from all the “required reading”  of your work, but choosing something for yourself this summer can get the creative, idea-generating side of your brain fired up or, if you prefer, provide you with a way to get to a distant place without ever leaving your comfy chair. …..Read more »


Thinking Outside of the Box

Brenda Hamm | April 02, 2023

Creative thinkers will be the ones who will see more variation in possible approaches to issues, big and small. Like the teacher who used ChatGPt to her advantage in her 6th grade classroom. It is easy to fret about plagiarism with AI technology like ChatGPT or to focus on punitive responses to its use. But this teacher flipped the script and considered the positive possibilities of Artificial Intelligence…..Read more »


"When the Only Constant is Change"

Brenda Hamm | March 20, 2023

Pause for a minute and consider some of the issues that schools and school leaders are experiencing, including the BLM and Me Too movements, a pandemic, school gun violence, climate change, social media and its impact on student mental health, AI, and the politicization of LGBTQIA2S+ communities….Read more »


Positive Take-Aways from the Pandemic

Brenda Hamm | March 14, 2023

I remember the 2016 election as a middle school division director at the time. Emotions had been running high in the leadup to what many were imagining was going to be an historical moment, anticipating the first woman was about to be elected as President of the United States. My team and I discussed how we would support the kids who supported then candidate Trump who, because of polling information coming from the media, we anticipated would lose the election. ….Read more »


Lessons from the Camino

Tracy Bennett | January 14, 2023

Sitting on the edge of my bunk in the cramped hostel (albergue) in Spain, I gingerly rubbed lotion into my tender and blistered feet. Today was hard. Even though I considered myself a seasoned pilgrim, 10 days into my second 500-mile Camino trek, I was tired and feeling a bit defeated. I had missed a wayfinding marker adding five miles onto my already long day. The unanticipated rainstorm mid-afternoon left me drenched and cold….Read more »


A Headmaster's Daughter

Becca Conard Hamm | January 15, 2023

I woke up to my phone ringing. It was 4am and the caller ID said ‘Marcus.’ Looking outside I saw clear skies, and listening carefully I heard movement down the hallway. Bracing myself for the conversation, I flipped my phone open and said without introduction, “He’s checking the weather now, but it doesn’t look good, there’s no snow here.” Not for the first time Marcus complained, “It’s because he’s from Vermont, isn’t it? The old headmaster was from the south, we got snow days all the time…….Read more »


Resume Basics

Brenda Hamm | January 10, 2023

This is the last in a series of three articles about the primary components of your written application materials: cover letter, educational leadership philosophy statement, and resume. Your cover letter makes it clear that you understand the school’s mission and some of their upcoming challenges. Your personal statement, or what is better known as your educational leadership philosophy statement, tells them why schools and education matter to you….Read more »


Independent Spirit

André Withers | October 25, 2022

Not long after I’d started my first job in an independent school, I visited a friend at Cranbrook Schools (MI). The visit wasn’t particularly remarkable then, but about 10 years ago, when I was trying to come up with ideas for a student activities project, I recalled a poster I’d seen in that friend’s office….Read more »

Your Own Child(ren) in Your School. Will That Work?

Brenda Hamm | September 12, 2022

You are a head of school candidate and you have children of your own. It can be a wonderful thing to have your kids in your school! Here are six pieces of advice for you to consider beforehand. …Read more »


Writing an Educational Leadership Philosophy Statement, or Why Schools and Education Matter to You

Brenda Hamm | September 5, 2022

You want me to write an educational leadership philosophy statement? What’s that?

As you may recall from EC’s last newsletter, visualizing the three primary components of your written application (the resume, personal statement, and cover letter) as a Venn diagram, with each represented by a circle overlapping with the other two is a useful image to keep in mind…Read more »


Culture Shock

Pilar Cabeza de Vaca | September 2, 2022

Having spent many years leading orientation programs for American teachers who are recruited to work in international schools for the first time, I’m familiar with the stages of culture shock one undergoes when moving to a new country. First there is the excitement of an impending adventure. …Read more »


Take Care Of Yourself

Brenda Hamm | April 26, 2022

I know a CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation who meditates for two hours every day. Two hours! I’m in awe of the discipline required, not just to remain in such a focused state for that amount of time, but also to protect two full hours every day from the usual intrusions of work and life. He swears by his practice because, according to him, with it he is happier, more effective in his work, and more caring toward his family. Without it he is grumpier, more tired, and more impatient. But twoRead more »


The Cover Letter

Brenda Hamm | April 26, 2022

The three primary components of your written application are the resume, personal statement, and cover letter. Visualize them as a Venn diagram, each represented by a circle overlapping with the other two. The intersection of all three circles is where the school knows you have a clear understanding of their mission, that you know some of the challenges they are facing in the coming years, how you can help them effectively address those challenges, and why schools and education matter to you….Read more »


Board Support of the Head of School

Sally Mixsell | April 27, 2022

What should Board support look like? As a board member what should I be doing if I’m adequately supporting the Head of School? What are some resources I can tap into to help me be a better board member?…Read more »


The Candidate Experience

Jean Lamont | March 23, 2020

Successful executive search work for independent schools has to be comprehensive. Search consultants discern the ‘DNA’ of a client school, interpret the current challenges, and bring to light opportunities. They recruit good-fit candidates who have the qualities, skill set and experience that make them ready for the leadership of that school. And they develop a strong partnership with the Search Chair(s) as they navigate the search process and the inevitable complexities that arise. A feature of this work that too often is taken for granted by search consultants is the relationship with the candidate… Read more »

Transition Plan

Marcus Hurlbut | October 23, 2020
For many years now, one of the hallmarks of an Educators’ Collaborative search has been our commitment to work with search committees, boards and school communities on matters associated with the transition from one head to the next. We know that for some in the world of independent school searches, the prevailing perspective is that the search is essentially over once an appointment has been made. We feel this viewpoint is shortsighted and, in the end, not in the best interest of schools and the critically important roles they serve. As my colleague John Mackenzie… Read more »

Transition in Trying Times

Mary Seppala | October 1, 2020
A Cohort Model for Supporting New Heads One of our hallmarks at Educators’ Collaborative dating back to our founding in 1971 is our commitment to supporting all Heads as they transition into their new leadership positions, with particular and extensive attention to those beginning their first headship. Just as schools have had to reimagine many aspects of how they deliver on their missions in these extraordinary times of covid-19, we have reimagined our support for new heads of school. Mary Seppala, one of our partners, took the lead in designing a cohort model of virtual…Read more »

Hiring Leaders Who Will Succeed in Times of Crisis

John M. Mackenzie | September 23, 2020
(Author’s note: While this article primarily references heads of schools, much of it can also apply to the hiring of senior administrators and faculty members. This piece was published in the NAIS Community Market in September, 2020.) As a former Head of School, I have immense empathy for the challenges current heads are facing in 2020-2021. In addition to those ever-present “come with the turf” decisions, heads also are the voices for their school communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic and to the multitude of questions arising out of the Black Lives Matter movement…Read more »

Finding the Right Leader

John M. Mackenzie | March 23, 2020
“There has never been a more difficult time to lead a school.” This is a frequently heard refrain that grows more true with each passing year. While it is difficult to compare different eras in any endeavor, there are good reasons to acknowledge why the demands of independent school leadership now seem greater than ever. From different parts of the country the lists of contributing factors include similar themes: social media, the national political climate, post 9/11 parents, more competitive college admissions, changing demographics, results-oriented Boards, and, of course, a global pandemic. In this context…Read more »

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