The conference officially kicks off tomorrow morning, but it already seems that every independent school administrator in the world has descended on San Francisco. It's been fun to catch up with old friends and make new ones. We're all talking about enrollment, tight budgets, and difficult decisions, yet there seems to be more optimism than last year. And those of us from the northeast were talking about the restorative power of a little sun and warmth - it was upper 50s and sunny today.
By virtue of my lofty status as an official blogger for the conference, I was invited to a very nice VIP reception with NAIS president, Pat Bassett, the NAIS board, and others. I got to meet my fellow bloggers, in person for the first time, posed for a picture, and received a very nice hat. Who says blogging isn't glamorous?
I've always held that the real work of the conference is in the conversations over lunch or dinner. Dinner tonight was with John Bracker, head of Watkinson School and an old friend from my Concord Academy days, and Rob Evans, a psychologist and author who is well known in independent school circles. Rob is also a former Concord parent. If you haven't had the chance to pick-up Rob's latest book, Seven Secrets of the Savvy School Leader, do yourself a favor and order it today. I read it on the plane out here - I'm a big believer in the power of a short book - and found it full of humor, practical advice, thoughtful and thought provoking insights, and very restorative. Perhaps the most timely advice in the book was about the importance of professional development opportunities, like NAIS Annual Conference, for school leaders to connect with peers in a way we simply can't when we're in our schools. It obsolved me the guilt I was feeling for being away from school for 3 days.