When NBOA started 25 years ago, technology roles at independent schools were in their infancy, and ATLIS wouldn’t exist for another two decades. I’m fairly certain the founding members of NBOA would have been surprised if we had shared back then that the technology leaders would be crafting a message wishing them warm congratulations as they celebrate the silver anniversary of their home for professional development and networking. Yet here we are.
When NBOA was founded, less than 40% of households had personal computers and Netscape was the browser of choice. AOL, which we were still calling America Online, was mailing floppy disks and CDs to households across the country and had just transitioned from charging about $20 per month for 20 hours of internet access to (gasp!) unlimited access to the world wide web. Thinking about technology in the context of our personal lives gives good perspective about how much has changed in the last 25 years at our schools. Shared computer stations have made way for personal devices and locked server rooms with miles of color-coded cords have transitioned to cloud-based solutions. Technology that supports our educators and learners is no longer anything that plugs into a wall; it’s anything that connects our school communities to the broader world in which we operate.
Over these decades, technology leaders have evolved into a distinct role supporting independent schools, and the relationship between the business office and the technology department is among the most critical partnerships in terms of keeping schools operating efficiently and safely. It’s possible that among all cross-departmental collaborations, this partnership has evolved the most in the last 25 years, and the result is that independent schools around the world are proactively managing risk and creating optimized learning environments for our students.
As valuable as the blending of technology and business expertise is for independent schools, it’s not surprising the extent to which our professional associations find ample opportunity for meaningful collaboration. In recent years, our organizations have unpacked the strength in this technology/business office relationship, and I have no doubt the best is yet to come. Here are some highlights, in terms of webinars, articles and industry guidance:
- “Guidance on Cyber Insurance for Independent Schools: A Guide for Technology Leaders and Business Officers” (industry guidance, 2022)
- “Important Technology Issues and Trends for Business Officers” (webinar, 2022)
- Cybersecurity 101 Workshop (virtual event, ongoing)
- “Amplifying DEI Goals with Technology” (NBOA Annual Meeting session, 2023)
- “Down to the Wire: Tech and Capital Projects” (Net Assets article, 2020)
On behalf of the entire ATLIS membership, staff and board of directors, I wish NBOA a hearty congratulations for its deep and lasting impact on the independent school community. You are an organization and a community to which others aspire, and we can’t wait to see and experience all that you accomplish in the next 25 years. To my friend, Jeff Shields, and all the NBOA staff, members and volunteer leaders, happy anniversary.