Your School, Your Legacy: Reflecting on the Past and Recommitting for the Future of Education

Welcome to the party. 
Everyone is invited. 
I hope you leave your armor and bring your open heart.

So begins a section of the 2020 NAIS Annual Conference poetry project called Traveling Stanzas. The project, a partnership between Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University and Hathaway Brown School (OH), encouraged the more than 5,000 conference attendees—from teachers to trustees—to leave their mark on the legacy of this year’s gathering, which was held last week in Philadelphia. 

We are a map of our beautiful future,
Our ideas will transform.
Our spirits will transpire.
Our courage is our key.

Our legacy lives in the stories of our children. 

Educators and leaders in the independent school community lived the words of their poetry—reflecting, refreshing, and recommitting to their work through the theme Your School, Your Legacy. To ensure long-term sustainability, they explored more deeply the importance of building on the work of past generations as well as improving on that work to make a lasting impact on their schools—and the independent school community as a whole.

Keynotes: Activism, Better Habits, and the Future of Education

This year’s general session speakers offered diverse perspectives. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt opened this year’s conference and taught a master class, “Educators in the Crossfire: Investigating Conflict and Creating a Culture of Resilience.”
The conference continued with three speakers who discussed the future of education: Idriss Aberkane is president of the Bioniria Foundation; Irshad Manji, founder of Moral Courage College, partners with independent schools to teach gutsy global citizenship; and Yong Zhao is Foundations Distinguished Professor in the School of Education with an appointment in the School of Business at the University of Kansas.
Angie Thomas, bestselling author of The Hate U Give, spoke about “Finding Your Activism and Turning the Political Into the Personal.”
Gretchen Rubin, author and thought-provoking observer of happiness and human nature, talked through the “Four Tendencies: The Key to Better Habits.”

Crisis Response 

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning last Tuesday for schools and businesses to prepare for the spread of the coronavirus, independent school leaders began to gather in Philadelphia. On Wednesday night, NAIS President Donna Orem and three other legal and crisis experts hosted a session about the coronavirus to discuss the facts, leadership mindsets, and legal ramifications and answer pressing questions. 

The session recording is on our website, and we’ve updated information and related resources to help provide guidance for schools. 

NAIS members can purchase session recordings through our On Demand program and keep the conversation going on social media with the hashtag #NAISAC. 

Check out more highlights from the 2020 NAIS Annual Conference in Philadelphia! 


Tell us! What was your biggest takeaway from the conference this year? 

Rebecca Scherr

Rebecca Scherr is senior editor/writer at NAIS.