We are not “trotting” this year — neither in a "turkey trot" road race, nor in our professional lives. It's been more like a sprint. With Thanksgiving break just a little more than one week away, we are approaching the first major milestone of the singularly most challenging school year in our career. The leadership, agility and “can-do” — read: must-do — attitude of our independent schools has been noteworthy.
You may recall, not long ago, we often heard from colleagues that “we would never be able to move to synchronous online learning,” or that “we can’t automate that function in the business office.” In terms of school operations, the pandemic’s headline, or the silver lining if you prefer, has been your school’s resilience and ability to adapt and execute in ways that were previously unthinkable. Your faculty, administrators, students and families have benefitted from it, both in the short term, as these changes keep them safe, and in the long run. Your school’s flexibility has advanced your programming and program flexibility to new heights that would have otherwise taken a decade to achieve.
Amidst the unprecedented change we have all experienced over the last several months, let’s pause and recognize what we have accomplished. One way to do this is by nominating your school or a colleague’s school for NBOA’s Jeffrey Shields Award for Innovation Excellence in School Business Operations. This award recognizes NBOA member schools that have demonstrated innovation in school business operations through approaches, programs and/or practices that may serve as a model in our independent school community. The deadline for submission is this Friday, November 20.
While I’m humbled and honored to be the namesake of the award, its importance extends well beyond NBOA and myself. The pandemic has provided countless examples of impressive innovation within our schools, and it’s critical for our industry to hear these stories and take notice. In submitting a nomination, you could share leadership strategies, actionable insights and tangible outcomes from which other schools can learn. These stories will serve as markers of what can be accomplished through your leadership and the leadership of our school communities.
Now that we have developed these new muscles, I can’t help but think of the possibilities we have at our disposal when we are not faced with an emergency and have the opportunity to be more thoughtful on a regular basis.
I wish you a restful and uneventful Thanksgiving break and a joyful holiday. You deserve it. And while the harvest and blessings of 2020 were not what we anticipated or desired, we still have much to be grateful for, including how our communities have adapted this year and a brighter future ahead.