Tuesday, September 28, 2010


    There's been a lot of talk about head lice since the beginning of school.  The newspapers, listserves, and general conversation among parents abound.  You must read this excellent article from the health section of last week's NYTimes.  "Parents, Relax.  Don't Keep them From School.  It's Just Lice" by Jane Brody gives some pretty sobering facts about these little critters.  For one
"In one study of more than 600 samples of presumed lice or eggs submitted by teachers, parents, nurses and physicians, about two-thirds turned out to be dandruff, scabs, dirt, plugs of skin cells, hair spray droplets, other insects or eggs that were no longer viable or already hatched."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beloit College Mindset List for Class of 2014

     I discovered this list while watching the evening news.  Here is what the website says:
     "Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation."
     So, here are the first three items in the list of 75:
"Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992.

For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.
1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
3. 'Go West, Young College Grad' has always implied 'and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.'”
     When you're at the site, you can look back and see the list for previous classes.  Very interesting.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Gendered Experience

     Be sure to get a copy of the fall issue of Independent School magazine.  With a theme of leadership in independent schools, there is one article in particular that you must read.  Martha Haakmat, Middle School Head at Brooklyn Friends School and Susan Feibelman, Upper School Head at Packer Collegiate School present an insightful, sobering article on the state of women in leadership roles in our schools.  Here is a sentence that, I believe, captures the essence of their well written, well researched article:

     “To truly break with the system of gender discrimination in independent schools, school leaders — current administrators and boards — need first to acknowledge the problem as a serious issue that undermines the quality of schools and their ability to fulfill their missions well.”

     If there was ever a time to have a balance of women and men in leadership roles in independent schools, it is now.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Parents Finding Hope

     I was first introduced to the dreadful disease progeria when I read the international bestseller book When Bad Things Happen to Good People some 25 years ago.  Author and Brooklyn-born Rabbi Harold Kushner told the personal story of his son, Aaron, who was born with progeria and subsequently died.  Rabbi Kushner eloquently looked for answers to why this happened.  Listen to his recent interview on "Morning Edition."
     While clicking through TV channels Friday evening, I happened upon the ABC News program "20/20" where Barbara Walters devoted the entire show to two families with children who have progeria.  The show reported that today, the 68 children in the world who share an average life expectancy of 13 years are the beautiful children of the world, and the interviewed parents conveyed a message that is inspirational beyond belief.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Head of School Notes

     Over my career as a head of school, I have enjoyed reflecting on the job and writing about my impressions on being a head of school.  I wrote articles for The Head's Letter and The Trustee's Letter, which are monthly publications for heads and trustees of independent schools.  Here is a library of those articles.  You can click on the article link to read the full article.

"Education Voucher System" (June 1994) - While offering opportunities, pursuing vouchers should be handled with care.  
"Effective Heads of School" (March 1995) - Klingenstein Fellows list their thoughts on qualities of effective heads.
"The Head Outside of the School" (November 1996) - The head's job often goes beyond her/his own school community.
"Head 'n Hand" (March 1998) - The best part of the job, greeting students, teachers, and parents each morning.
"Words Work" (October 2000) - Hearing a sermon on giving up summer time to helping others can inspire.
"Choices, Changes, Transitions" (February 2003) - Insights about moving on to the next opportunity.
"A Turn in the Barrel" (April 2004) - At some point every head is on the firing line.
"Transference Revisited" (December 2004) - A look into the mysteries of transference as presented by Dr. Ned Hallowell.
"A Head of Eeeshmail" (October 2005) - The challenges and nuances of using email can be daunting to school leaders.
 "Learning and Living Leadership" (January 2007) - Heads at an annual conference sharing their thoughts on leadership.
"Taking Care of Employees" (April 2007) - When trying to balance budgets, we cannot lose sight of taking care of faculty and staff.
"Whose Decision Is It?" (December 2007) - Board or head's decision?  Written with my Board Chair.
"When is it Time to Leave?" (January 2010) - Is there a perfect time when heads should leave their school?
"30% . . . Really?" (May/June 2010) - 30% of a head's time should be devoted to caring for the board?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hyperbole or Happening?

     In a recent NAIS Heads' Listserve exchange, one head of school offered this library of videos.  Most are short and can help instigate discussion for faculty meetings.  Also, the likes of Pink, Dweck, Robinson, Heath, and others can lend perspective to what is presented.

"Pay Attention" - 7:42

"Shift Happens" – 7:38 (6:11 in actual running time) 6/21/10   similar to above but better graphics, more intrusive music (Both mention job changes . . .)

"It’s Not on the Test"  (Tom Chapin song) - 2:08

Sir Ken Robinson - 19:00 (TED presentation on Creativity, similar to his NAIS presentation)