Independent School magazine has evolved. We’ve made something great even better. And we want you to be a part of it. We hope you’ll see even more opportunity to contribute and be a part of the Independent School magazine community.
As always, there are themes for feature articles in each issue, but there are also additional avenues to share your expertise, ideas, and experiences. The department descriptions that follow should help serve as a guide for the submission process.
Themes for Feature Articles
Word count for Features: 1,800-2,500 words
Winter 2022: Teaching & Learning
Spring 2022: Culture
As mission-driven, intentional communities, school culture serves as a unifying force. But what exactly is culture? How do you learn about a school’s culture? How do you create or shape it? What makes for a toxic culture, and how can you make corrections? How do you address cultural conflict in the community? In this issue, we will seek to help schools moving out of the intangible (the invisible/know-it-when-we-see-it notion) to the tangible by exploring such questions as:
Summer 2022: Headship
- How do you understand your school’s culture—philosophically and tactically? How best to assess it?
- How are culture and momentum connected? Which comes first?
- How do you take stock of and take care of your school’s culture? How do you know when it’s evolving—or not?
- What happens when the school culture needs to be completely reimagined? How do you know? What do you do? How do you move forward?
- What’s at the heart of a culture shift?
- What to do when the culture of the parent community doesn’t align with the school?
- What’s the difference between tradition and culture?
We’ll take an in-depth look at the human side of headship as well as the current and future state of headship. What is the essence of headship? Why do leaders become heads of school? How does that correspond with what boards want when they hire heads? Is the role sustainable? We’ll contextualize the wealth of NAIS research and examine the pipeline for independent school headship, mentorship and sponsorship, head tenure, what heads do once they retire, and more by exploring such questions as:
Fall 2022: The Market
- What do boards want when they hire heads of school? What do heads want when they take the job? How can we better align the two?
- How can aspiring heads prepare—what does the path look like? What's important to know about the search process?
- How can schools employ interim heads effectively?
- What's at the heart of unplanned leadership transitions?
- Why are there relatively few internal hires? And what does this mean for leadership development?
- What do new heads need to know for year 1? Year 2?
- What does mid-career headship look like? What supports are needed for success?
- What health & well-being supports are needed to help heads survive and thrive in an ever-more complex role?
- Where do retired heads they go? What’s the best way to tap into their expertise?
Schools must deeply understand whom they are trying to serve (and why), what those people need, and how to reach them most effectively. In this issue, we’ll look at the market––how it has changed and continues to change—and demand for independent education. We’ll explore multiple threads of what constitutes and complicates the indy school market by digging deep on such questions as:
Winter 2023: Strategy
- How do independent schools’ missions and programs address and support what families need today? What do parents need now? Has COVID changed the JTBD for independent schools?
- What is the independent school value proposition? How ca schools use it to set strategy? How do they communicate it to current and prospective independent school families?
- Does our market have the ability to pay our tuition? The willingness? How can we tell?
- Admissions and enrollment management: where are we now?
- How should schools set tuition––and how it affects ability and willingness to pay?
- How has the drop in the birthrate affected independent schools? How will it affect schools in the future
- The international student market––where do we go from here?
- How can independent schools deliver what families want, but ensure that they’re doing what’s right for students?
In a world that is changing so rapidly, the standard five-year strategic plan will not work for the schools of today and tomorrow. So much of what schools do in the name of strategy is often a series of connected but ungrounded tactics. True strategy is what most schools are in deep need of. In this issue, we’ll explore how we can help schools shift from strategic planning to designing strategy by exploring how schools can move away from static plans toward designing dynamic strategy, the balance between meeting market demand and developing new programs that people don’t even know they want yet, how schools take safe risks to grow their capacity for innovation, and more by exploring such questions as:
- What is strategy? Why does it matter? What does it look like when it is done well?
- What is the intersection of scenario planning and strategic planning?
- What should the head’s role be in long-term planning for the school?
- How are schools setting strategy for greater financial sustainability now?
- How does strategy help schools better design: physical space; curriculum, learning opportunities; the student experience; the path to leadership; the admissions experience/marketing journeys; new/innovative schools.
- How can you make design flexible enough to adapt to different needs that may emerge in 5 or 10 years?
Short profiles of independent member school news, programs, awards, and more. School communications directors: Send relevant press releases, and include photos with captions when available.
Word count: each item 200-300 words
News You Can Use
Short items broadly related to education, including new reports, surveys, and studies; new books; new software; and education-in-the-news stories. Press and public relations officers: Send relevant press releases.
Word count: each item 100-150 words
Book reviews—of professional and education-related books as well as for-pleasure reading. Share what you're reading with your colleagues: Did you read a book recently that you want to tell your colleagues about? Tell us about it in a few sentences: why did you like it? What made you want to read it? What was your biggest takeaway? Did you have a favorite line?
Word count: 150-300 words
Articles provide the context and results of important research study and survey results that are useful to independent schools; highlights NAIS research and institutional research from member schools, as well as studies from universities and think tanks. Please note: This is not an outlet for publishing research papers or journal articles; the focus is on interpreting results and providing greater context and insight for independent schools.
Word count: 1,200-1,500 words
Articles address and report on issues related to the changing education landscape—school models, financial models, admissions, financial aid, wellness, parent relations, legal issues, diversity & inclusion, and teaching & learning. They provide a big-picture view of trends and issues that are or will be impacting independent education.
Word count: 1,200-1,500 words
Designed to inspire current leaders and keep them engaged in their work and to activate and inspire administrators and teachers who may not be in leadership positions—yet—these articles explore many facets of leadership. This department features a mix of leadership issues, theories, and concept writ large, as well as first-person leadership stories and reflections.
Word count: 1,000-1,200 words
A place for case studies. Articles provide an in-depth look at how an independent school has implemented an idea, theory, program, or practice. Submissions should include background information, a description of the specific approach, insights learned along the way, as well as key takeaways and useful guidance.
Word count: 1,500-1,700 words
The head-trustee relationship is one of the key factors in a school's success. This department, geared for heads and trustees, explores the many facets of this important relationship. Articles focus on key governance issues and are designed to help build and secure productive working relationships.
Word count: 1,300-1,500 words
Designed to capture the essence of a dialogue between school colleagues, this Q&A explores the interconnectedness of relationships in the school community and seeks to break down silos and to get people talking about how their roles and work impact each other. Have you had a conversation recently with someone on campus that changed the way you think and work or led to an unexpected collaboration? Tell us about it. Do you know of—or are you a part of—an exemplary mentor-mentee pair? A great student-teacher duo? We want to hear about it. Send us a brief description, and we’ll follow up.
Independent schools are truly unique, as are the passionate people who make up the school community. Designed to capture the essence of independent school life, this essay is a thoughtful reflection on why you chose to work at and be part of the independent school community—essentially, why you love what you do. Maybe you wound up at a school somewhat accidentally or after a long career elsewhere—what was your a-ha moment? Or maybe you grew up in independent schools—why did you decide to stay on? Reflect on and share your journey.
Word count: 550 words
General Writing Guidelines
Independent School is not an academic journal. We do not publish dissertations or other academic papers.
We follow AP style, with a few exceptions (namely, we use the serial comma). We do not include footnotes or endnotes. This information should be incorporated into the text in a journalistic style.
We’re always reviewing and accepting ideas and articles, so feel free to send along any ideas you may have at any time. All articles and ideas, including theme-related submissions that arrive after the posted deadlines, will be considered for future issues. Submit manuscripts (Word or Google document) to [email protected].
Please note that we generally close out each issue three months prior to publication.
- Fall issue usually closes by April 15
- Winter issue usually closes by July 15
- Spring issue usually closes by September 15
- Summer issue usually closes by December 15
Allow at least two months for a decision. When submitting an article, please indicate whether your article, or any variation, has been published in another publication.
Letters to the Editor
We know you have opinions––and we want to hear from you! Here are some general guidelines for submitting a letter to the editor.
- The maximum length of a letter to the editor is 500 words
- Letters to the editor may be edited for length, clarity, civility, and accuracy; writers may be provided with the edited version before publication.
- We will publish letters that address a specific issue theme or article.
- Letters to the editor must not include material pulled from another source without attribution.
We will not publish material that is:
Potentially libelous. Libel is any unsubstantiated or untrue statement that damages someone else’s reputation.
Discriminatory on any grounds. This includes discrimination based on age, ability, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or culture.
Obscene. This includes any statement that is vulgar, profane, or offensive.
Threatening. This includes personal attacks, intimidation, bullying or threat of harm against a person or organization.
Copyrighted or printed in another publication. We assume all letters to the editor are original. We can’t print a letter you’ve sent to another publication.
You must provide your full name and location; it will be published alongside your letter. If your letter identifies another person, please ask for their permission before you send your letter to NAIS. For example, if you share a personal experience and mention colleagues, please ask them if you can identify them in your letter. When you submit a letter, we assume that you’ve received consent from other people.
Send all letters to [email protected].