The Assistant Headship

The Assistant Headship
The Assistant Headship

Time: 11:00am ET -

Assistant Heads juggle multiple tasks, interact with various constituencies, and act as the school leader when the Head is unavailable. Learn management strategies that are critical to enhancing your school’s stability and ability to carry out its mission, ensuring your continued success as Assistant Head. This workshop blends live, synchronous group sessions; recorded videos and slideshows that participants watch asynchronously; and both live and asynchronous online individual and group discussions and activities.

This workshop is now virtual! What that means for you:

We're all in this together. 
Our professional development events offer guidance, support, and insight to help you lead from a position of strength during this unprecedented time. Let's work together to ensure you're equipped to enter the 2020–21 school year with the research and strategies you need to take on any challenge.

deposit iconLimited Time Offer: Deposit and Defer Option 
Attend any Summer Institute workshop with a $250 deposit paid by June 1, 2020. The remaining balance for your workshop is due by December 31, 2020. Email to get started.

team iconTeam savings have been expanded for our summer workshops!
Would more than one of your school leaders like to attend Summer Institute? After your school registers your first workshop participant at the General price, all other attendees qualify for Second Person Pricing for any workshop. Call to register: 302-656-4944.

You are an Assistant Head (or Associate Head or Vice President), which means one of two things:

  • You are truly a “vice” Head, assisting the School Head on matters across many school areas; or 
  • You are a senior administrator, focused on a particular area of the business of independent schools (e.g., you are Assistant Head for Academic Affairs, Assistant Head for Advancement, Associate Head for Finance and Operations).

Either way, you part of the Head’s inner circle. You are a trusted confidant and carry out important functions that directly impact the school’s success and impact the Head’s success in the eyes of the Board. This workshop will help you develop yourself into an even better leader in your school as you assist your School Head.


  • Understand and manage your ever-evolving roles and responsibilities.
  • Develop a plan for relationship-building with your School Head.
  • Explore how to orchestrate your relationships with the school’s leadership groups, including fellow administrators, the Board, and parents.
  • Learn how to improve your fundamental knowledge across all functional areas of independent schools, such as academics, admission, marketing, development, Board relations, and strategic financial planning.
  • Discover ISM’s Stability Markers and the right process for developing and executing a strategic plan.

You will take away an action plan that will influence your own professional development and allow you to advise your School Head about areas in which your school might improve.

Who Should Attend:

Both new and established Assistant Heads who are looking to improve their school leadership skills should attend.

Bryan Smyth

Bryan Smyth, Ph.D.

ISM Senior Consultant | Director of Research


Bryan’s central purpose is to help students flourish. He believes that the enhancement of school environments and cultures is the best way to facilitate growth in children and adults.

Current Role

As a Senior Consultant and ISM’s Director of Research, Bryan:

  • Oversees ISM’s research initiatives designing studies, conducting statistical analyses and advancing our knowledge in areas important to independent school leadership
  • Conducts onsite scheduling consultations, having had extensive experience creating and implementing unique daily schedules and annual calendars for both boarding and day schools
  • Helps schools analyze and strategies their strategic operations conducting Strategic Performance Analyses, Strategic Planning/Strategic Financial Planning, and Strategic Academic Planning consultations
  • Writes frequently for Ideas & Perspectives and co-authors books in the areas of scheduling, student-centered policies, faculty growth and evaluation, finance, social-emotional well-being, and research
  • Leads ISM’s Student-Centered Scheduling workshop and The Assistant Headship workshop

Bryan joined ISM as a Consultant in 2013, following 13 years in independent school administration.

Prior Experience

Bryan came to ISM from Mount Pisgah Christian School, GA, where he served as the Vice President, Head of the Upper School, Guidance and College Advisement Director, varsity head coach, and psychology teacher over the course of his tenure. Prior to that, he was the Associate Head of School at Brandon Hall, GA.

He is also a licensed clinical psychologist whose practice specialized in the psychological assessment and treatment of adolescents and their families. This varied background and set of experiences affords him the ability to view a school’s form and function from multiple viewpoints, leading to solutions that take into account all perspectives.


Bryan holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in clinical psychology from Marquette University, WI, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois. He also earned an MBA from Reinhardt University, GA, that focused on the application of business principles to the management of independent schools.

Summer Institute will be held as a distance learning event.

How it works:

Summer Institute will be open from 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT through 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT for the duration of the workshop dates posted.

During that time, you can expect:

  • Two live sessions with your instructor every day, each up to 90 minutes long
  • Flexible time for independent work, connecting with peers, and group learning

This workshop will deliver the same high-quality learning and takeaways you expect from an ISM workshop. Below you’ll find an overview of the topics covered.

Virtual Workshop Schedule (subject to adjustment)


  • Welcome and Introductions/Why are you Here? 
  • How We Will Work Together Online – Setting Expectations 
  • Leading from Outside the Circle

Topic #1: What Does it Mean to be an Assistant Head?

  • My Why, My Well-Being 
  • My Relationship with the School Head

Topic #2: Private School Strategy

  • Differentiation through your Purpose and Outcomes: Your School’s Why, What and How?
  • Marketplace Stance: Price, Product, Process
  • Mission-Identity Alignment
  • Using the Academic Program and Schedule as a Strategic Lever 

Topic #3 Stability Markers and Evaluations of Functional Areas

  • ISM X and Stability Markers
  • Pricing Strategy and Baumol’s Cost Disease
  • The Financial Levers and Metrics

Topic #4 Essential Assessment around “Circle”

  • The Southwest Quadrant 
  • The “Top 180”
  • The Academic Program and Schedule: The Essentials and Trajectory Live video and Discussion

Topic #5 The Board of Trustees

  • Strategic and Financial Planning
  • Board Structure and Function 

Topic #6 Creating and Managing Change

  • Initiatives and Change 
  • Crisis-Driven Distance Learning / Social Distancing Solutions

Topic #7 Managing Crises

  • Crisis Communication and Management
  • COVID-19—What Now? 

This workshop will be held virtually. You'll receive information after you register. 

How will ISM communicate workshop information with me?

It is essential that your school approves the following email addresses from ISM:


You will be receiving all communication—including your confirmation email and access to your workshop's Google Drive account—from these e-mails.

What does my registration fee include?

All workshop materials are included.


Event Confirmation and Cancellation Policy

We take the health and safety of our school leaders seriously.

In an abundance of caution and to protect the health of all participants, ISM will hold its 2020 Summer Institute and Advancement Academy as distance learning events.

Should ISM cancel an event, we ensure a 100% money-back guarantee for all registrants—so you can buy with confidence. You can feel free to direct any questions to

Confirmation and Cancellation Policy

Tuition Payment and Cancellation Policy for ISM’s Professional Development Events

Tuition must be paid in full 10 business days prior to the start date of the event. An attendee with a balance due on the start date will be denied entrance to the program until the balance is paid in full.

Cancellation requests must be made in writing by emailing, faxing to 302-656-0647, or mailing to: Event Experience Manager, ISM, 1316 N. Union St., Wilmington, DE, 19806.

  • Cancellations received more than 15 business days prior to the start date of the program will be fully refunded. Gold Dollars will also be fully refunded.
  • Cancellations received less than 15 business days prior to the start date of the program will not be refunded.
  • Non-payment of tuition or no-show to the event does not constitute a cancellation. Full tuition will be due and payable.

The Substitution Option and Wallet Option

If a member of your team can no longer attend a workshop for which they have registered and it is past the cancellation window, your school has two options to avoid penalty. Schools may also exercise these options at any time for cancellations. 

  1. The school may substitute another employee.
  2. The school may bank the funds for a future ISM registration. These funds must be applied to a professional development event within one year from the start date of the original workshop. After one year, the funds will be forfeited. To use banked funds, please call the Event Experience Manager at 302-656-4944 x152.

*We DO NOT accept enrollments from consultants.


Our Guarantee

ISM believes in providing quality and excellence in all of our events and in ensuring the satisfaction of everyone who attends. Nearly 100% of our participants say they would recommend our events to their colleagues. If you are not satisfied with your event for any reason, ISM will credit the fee you paid toward another similarly priced workshop or will refund it.

If you have any questions, click below to send us an email. 

Workshop Registration

Register for your workshop online by filling out the form below. If you'd prefer to register by PDF, download our registration form. It can be returned via email to or faxed to 302-656-0647.


If two or more team members from your school are registering for this workshop, fill out the form below for the first registrant. Click "add to cart" and select Add Another Attendee from the cart menu.


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