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Learn practical strategies to handle emerging trends and leadership challenges in private schools.

No matter if you’re a School Head, Admission Director, Development Director, Board member, or any other private school administrator—Ideas & Perspectives, ISM’s premier private school publication, has strategic solutions for the pervasive problems you face.

  • Tuition not keeping pace with your expenses? In I&P, explore how to use strategic financial planning to create your budget and appropriately adjust your tuition.
  • Enrollment dropping off? Discover how to implement the right admission and enrollment management strategies that engage your community—and fill your classrooms.
  • Trouble retaining teachers? Learn how you can best support your teachers using ISM’s Comprehensive Faculty Development framework. Your faculty members will become more enthusiastic about their roles—which ultimately improves student outcomes.
  • Fundraising campaigns not as successful as you’d hoped? Implement ISM’s practical advice and guidance to build a thriving annual fund, construct an effective capital campaign, and secure major donors—no matter your community size or location.
  • Not sure how to provide professional development—for you and your staff? Learn ways to develop and fund a successful professional development strategy. You can improve teacher-centered satisfaction and growth, which in turn strengthens student-centered learning.
  • Problematic schedule? You can master the challenges of scheduling with the help of ISM’s practical advice, based on our experience with hundreds of schools and our time-tested theories.
  • And so much more.

I&P has shared targeted research, up-to-date insight, and sound theory with school leaders since 1975. More than 8,500 private school decision-makers find the answers to their schools’ administrative and governance matters in our advisory letter. We give you the strategic answers you need.

As an ISM Silver or Gold member, you not only receive issues online and in print 16 times a year, but you have access to more than 600 articles in our web archive. Need help? It’s at your fingertips! Learn more and sign up for ISM's membership here. 

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See the articles from our latest issue of Ideas & Perspectives.

Enrollment and Budget Decisions During Times of Crisis

Volume 45 No. 6May 11, 2020

The school year was moving along well. The economy was strong, early reports of re-enrollment were excellent, and inquiries were up. An ideal scenario was developing for full enrollment and easy budget planning. And suddenly, an unexpected and catastrophic fiscal emergency occurs, creating enrollment concerns, threatening jobs, creating financial stress for your families, and threatening the school’s financial viability.

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The Head’s Role in Clarifying Your Business Manager’s Responsibilities for the Trustees

Volume 45 No. 6May 11, 2020

The School Head and Business Manager relationship is critical for the school’s effective operation. The connection with the Board can complicate this relationship because the Business Manager’s role is vital for an effective Board. The Business Manager’s job is complex. It includes: strategic planning, budgeting, cash management, accounting, collections, human resources, technology oversight, facilities management, food service, transportation, risk management, and vendor management.

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DISRUPTION! Leading in Uncertain Times

Volume 45 No. 6May 11, 2020

Disruption is not a new term in business thinking. Disruptions often occur in the business realm and come in many forms. A competitor designing a product or service similar to others in the marketplace—for example, using new technology—is a disruptor. And sometimes that new product or service can be far less expensive, eliminating competition. The printing press was such a disruption in 1450. Disruptions can also be sudden outside forces that change the face of a business. A natural disaster can be a disruptor. We only must look back a few years and recall Hurricane Katrina and listen to the stories of private school leaders in New Orleans to know firsthand the power of that natural catastrophe.Add to that the coronavirus.

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Improve Retention With a Focus on New Family Onboarding

Volume 45 No. 5April 20, 2020

As new students and families begin school each fall, you, the Admission Director, may be tempted to turn your attention to filling remaining empty seats or recruiting for next year. However, as outlined in Stability Marker No. 6 of the ISM Stability Markers®,1 retention is just as vital as recruitment—if not more so—to help you achieve enrollment demand in excess of supply. It stands to reason, then, that you must heighten your focus on ensuring your new students and parents experience a seamless transition throughout their first weeks and months in your school community.

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Comprehensive Faculty Development: Why the Separation of Evaluation From Growth Is Essential

Volume 45 No. 5April 20, 2020

As stated in the first article in this series, “Comprehensive Faculty Development: An Overview,”* evaluation and growth have traditionally been conflated. When asked for the “why” behind faculty evaluation, the first response is often “to drive growth” or “to improve performance,” even though administrators readily acknowledge that it seldom does either. The most common challenges cited to explain this ineffectiveness include:

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Support and Recognition for the Departing School Head

Volume 45 No. 5April 20, 2020

For a private-independent school involved in a change of school leadership, a tremendous amount of time and energy is expended searching for and selecting the new School Head. However, the Board must not overlook its responsibilities to the outgoing administration. Once a departure decision has been made, it is essential that the school maintain existing lines of authority to continue its progress. In addition, a lame-duck administrator is in a difficult position—the outgoing Head needs high-level of support from the Board.

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Faculty Evaluation: Essential Expectations

Volume 45 No. 5April 20, 2020

In ISM’s approach to Comprehensive Faculty Development, evaluation and growth are treated as two distinct processes. We base faculty evaluation solely on a set of Essential Expectations that constitute critical areas of performance. These expectations go beyond teaching and pedagogy to include behaviors expected of a model employee, colleague, and professional. 

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Hiring Outside Contractors for Your Summer Program

Volume 45 No. 4March 23, 2020

As School Head, you know the key to a successful summer program is first to determine the desired benefits to the school. (These may include, for example, increasing nontuition revenue, attracting outside students to the campus, providing employment for teachers, and expanding your mission beyond the school year’s confines.) Then design programs that meet these goals. The initial decision is one of management. Should you offer school programs only, offer programs run by outside contractors (and, in essence, lease your facilities to them), or combine these two elements? What are the pros and cons of working with contractors?

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Job Descriptions: Do’s and Don’ts for Getting the Best Candidates

Volume 45 No. 4March 23, 2020

Crafting a compelling job description is an essential aspect of attracting qualified candidates to your school. It’s the first impression for a potential new hire. Standing out to the vast crowd of candidates has never been more critical or challenging. Think of the job description as a primary marketing tool in the job seeker market. The primary goals of the job description are to:

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Student Suicide: Plan for Prevention and Intervention

Volume 45 No. 4March 23, 2020

Of all the sudden and sobering issues you may face as the School Head, the death of a student by suicide is among the most devastating. Everyone in the school community would rather assume that “it can’t happen here,” but the harsh reality is that a student suicide can occur in any school.

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