Deans from Across the US Come to Network & Learn.
In mid-June, 30 deans from boarding and day schools around the United States came to Blair for an annual conference focused on student and community life. The two-day program kicked off with a series of sessions designed for administrators who are new to their positions, giving them the opportunity to learn from veteran deans.
Participants find the conference valuable because of its focus on case studies, as well as the many opportunities to informally talk with colleagues from other schools, according to Blair’s dean of admission Peter G. Curran, who co-founded the program with Bridget Johnson, associate executive director of Prep for Prep, and Dan Morrissey, dean of admissions and financial aid at Western Reserve Academy.
“This conference is truly a round table in that, in addition to hearing from outside speakers who present, we very much encourage participants to share best practices and their own experiences,” he said. “We sometimes refer to the program as a ‘conference between the sessions’ because we feel that often the short conversations you have with peers over lunch or between presentations is the most valuable part. In fact, we organize the entire roundtable structure around this concept and create many opportunities for people to make strong connections with each other so that they will have a network of deans on whom they can always call.”
Among the most popular sessions this year were one on “hot topics,” which covered issues ranging from advising, orientation, handbooks, crisis planning and what to do when you make a misstep, and “60-second experts,” in which participants went around the room and shared one program or idea they had implemented at their school. “These were incredibly valuable because everyone came away with new ideas and proof that they can be realistically brought to life at their own school,” Mr. Curran said.
Other highlights included presentations from Kelly McAdams from Caron Boston, who led a discussion on building partnerships between deans of students and counselors; Paul McLouglin, who focused on how independent school prepare students for college; and Sara Schwartz, who spoke about accommodations. Blair’s own dean of students Jess Matzkin shared with attendees information on senior exit interviews and the School’s Health-a-Palooza program.
“Creating this conference with my two colleagues has been very rewarding and holding it at Blair has been especially meaningful,” continued Mr. Curran. “We have had a very successful third year and have already begun preparations for next year.”