The Promise of 21st Century Innovation for Independent Schools

A Transatlantic Best Practices Symposium

March 24th - 25th , 2015

Click Here to Register or Present (still time to submit a proposal)



HEATHER STAKER “USING DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION TO IMPROVE SCHOOLS.” Co-Author of “Blended: The Field Guide to Disrupting Class” and a Senior Fellow for the Education Practice at the Clayton Christensen Institute.

Co-Author of “Blended: The Field Guide to Disrupting Class” and a Senior Fellow for the Education Practice at the Clayton Christensen Institute.


MARL MILLIRON “EMERGING INSIGHTS ON LEARNING AND THE ROAD AHEAD.” Former Deputy Director Postsecondary Improvement at Gates Foundation and currently Chief Learning Officer Civitas Learning.

Former Deputy Director Postsecondary Improvement at Gates Foundation and currently Chief Learning Officer Civitas Learning.


KEVIN RUTH “THE PROMISES AND CHALLENGES OF GOING DIGITAL.” President of ECIS, an association of 700 international schools on six continents. Member of the Online Executive Panel (Education) at McKinsey.

President of ECIS, an association of 700 international schools on six continents. Member of the Online Executive Panel (Education) at McKinsey.












Thirty minute explanations from leading schools of the structure, pedagogy and curriculum behind new learning models including video or multi media demonstrations.

Blended Classes- (More than flipped learning, Blended Classes offer a combination of on campus formal learning and informal learning online where the student has a degree of autonomy over where and when he completes part of the course.)

Online Classes- ( These classes include real time seminars and self paced options)

Design Thinking- (These classes use collaborative, problem based, empathy driven approaches to critical thinking and creativity)

New Integrated Disciplines ( These classes cross the traditional Math/Science and Arts/Humanities boundaries and also incorporate technology rich disciplines)

SPOCS (Small Private Online Classes emerging as an independent school alternative to MOOCs)

Global Project Based ( highly collaborative project based classes across schools)



Mike Ehrhardt

Mike Ehrhardt

Head of School Cary Academy (North Carolina)

Blended Collaboration Goes Global

While fully online classes allow students to learn with others from around the world, a blended collaboration can extend that opportunity to faculty as well. Hear about the partnership of three schools in the United States, India, and Brazil to develop and teach a blended leadership class. The workshop will explore practical matters such as course content creation and scheduling, and it will include a dive into the course to examine how the blend plays out in the partner schools. The session will also look at how such collaborations can work within the context of existing online or blended projects within a school.



Joel Backon, Director of Academic Technology at Choate Rosemary Hall, Connecticut

Joel Backon (Choate)

Peter Warsaw, Academic Dean and Performing Arts Teacher at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts

Peter Warsaw (Deerfield)

Choate Rosemary Hall Academic Tech Director(Connecticut) and Deerfield Academy Academic Dean (Mass) of Eight Schools Association.

What is Excellent Pedagogy in Online Learning?

Does great online pedagogy mimic great classroom pedagogy? Certainly online learning is different because we don’t have the comfort of a physical classroom in a scheduled time slot. In the K12 online world, how high is the bar for student engagement and self-directed learning? Can the tools that make online learning successful enhance the classroom setting as well? Can these same tools enhance the overall life of the student at an independent school? Join this town meeting where representatives from the ESA will ask some preliminary questions, and then expand the discussion to all in attendance.


Marjo Talbot

Marjo Talbott (Maret)

Evan Peterson Head of School Fort Worth Country Day

Evan Peterson (FWCD)

Heads of School at Maret School (DC) and Fort Worth Country Day School (Texas) of the Malone School Online Network

The Value of the Synchronous Classroom in Online Learning Environments

The Malone School Online Network (MSON) is a consortium of schools committed to the idea that online learning provides more meaningful outcomes if it includes synchronous (real time) classroom meetings. In our “virtual Harkness table” model, students and teachers meet in class together twice week using high-definition teleconferencing equipment. This session will address the many benefits that accrue from coupling non-synchronous elements of the traditional online learning environment with the synchronous classroom. Panelists will address the possibilities inherent in such a model and explain how the synchronous components have enriched the online learning environment for students and teachers alike.


Founding Director Global Online Academy

Michael Nachbar

Founding Director, Global Online Academy (Washington state)

Teacher as Experience Designer

Teachers are under increasing pressure to harness the potential of the internet and educational technology, yet this focus on tools often obscures a larger issue: rethinking the role of the teacher. Teachers no longer need to think of themselves as the hub of all content and knowledge in their courses; rather, the modern learning landscape has empowered teachers to become designers of rich learning experiences that allow students to take ownership of their learning, engage the world around them, and discover new ways to express themselves. This presentation will focus on how to leverage principles like learner-centered design and tools like learning management systems, cloud-based technology, and mobile devices to create multifaceted experiences for students.


Founder, Stanford Online High School

Ray Ravaglia

Founder of Stanford Online High School (California)

Keeping It Real While Going Virtual

The rise of online learning has forced independent schools to engage in a good deal of soul searching. Technology is transforming how they are teaching, what they are teaching, and even who is teaching. In the midst of it all it is easy to lose sight of the characteristics that have historically defined an independent school education. While content knowledge may be readily attained online, less well established is how one engenders the ways of thinking and habits of mind that are the hallmarks of the well-educated individual. These are attributes best acquired in small seminar settings that are too readily abandoned in the rush to move online. In this talk we look at ways that technology is being used to deliver this traditional high-quality instruction as well as ways that mission-driven institutions can incorporate such education without abandoning their core beliefs and values.


Founding Director, Hybrid Learning Consortium

Sarah Hofstra (HLC)

Shane Foster

Shane Foster (Barstow)

Head of School of Barstow School and Founding Director of Hybrid Learning Consortium (Both Missouri)

SPOCS — A Different Approach to Online Learning than MOOCS

With the rise of MOOCS in higher education, now comes the reverberation model in SPOCS (small, private, online courses) with research to show increased success for students. In many ways, see how SPOCS align with independent school approaches. However, can MOOCS and SPOCS coexist and be complementary in your school? Learn the difference of the two models, see research regarding both, and hear how different schools are using each model to differentiate and increase student opportunity.



Jonathan Ball

Jonathan Ball

Devereaux McClatchey

Devereaux McClatchey

President and Recruitment Director, Carney Sandoe & Associates (the largest US independent school placement firm)

 Tinkerers and Underwater Robots: Finding Faculty with Pedagogical Skills for the Digital Age

Schools are increasingly looking for a different skill set from their instructors and leaders. Whether it is the increasing emphasis on project based learning, blended education, the “maker” movement, global affinities or high touch collaborative student pathways to learning through models like design thinking, the recruitment environment is changing. In this presentation, the leaders of a firm that has placed over 30,000 teachers over the last 30 plus years, will share with you what we are seeing and how you may need to rethink how you source, interview, evaluate and offer professional growth to candidates and current faculty.

Darby Carr

Darby Carr

Head of School Laurel Springs School (Pennsylvania)

A World-Class Education in a Rapidly Changing Global Environment

21st Century skills and technology have catapulted the need for globalization to be a topic of concern and opportunity for independent boarding and day schools. How can we, as educators, ensure all of our students are prepared to compete in a global marketplace with the right skillsets, cultural awareness, and language abilities? Come visit with Darby Carr to learn more about a multi-tiered approach to creating well versed global citizens that includes online initiatives to embrace a holistic approach to global education.



Nick Stoneman

Nick Stoneman

Head of School Shattuck-St.Mary’s School (Minnesota)

Five years on, going from incremental pilots grade by grade to expansive school impact.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s School has established a fully-integrated blended learning program. After developing courses in this model, the school conducted a two year pilot, during which juniors and seniors took the majority of their classes in the blended format. With this flexible schedule came the opportunity to complete an independent project outside of the traditional classroom environment. Students participated in twice weekly scheduled class meetings and complete online course components during the rest of the week with the support of their teachers. This session will provide an overview of the school’s experience, from early concept formation through program realization and evaluation.


Vicki Conway

Vicki Conway

Founding Director of Oaks Christian Online (California)

Create a Sustainable Christian Independent School Using a Business Plan for Blended and Fully-online Learning

How can a school give its families flexibility, expand and stay true to their school mission, entice new students and remain sustainable and competitive? Oaks Christian Online School (OCO) in California has formulated a five-year strategic plan to accomplish these tasks using blended and fully-online learning. OCO will share how it began in the fall of 2010, and now facilitates over 700 students taking online courses, including 600 on their main campus.



Kim Wargo

Kim Wargo (Hockaday)

Brad Rathgeber

Brad Rathgeber (OSG)

Head of School Hockaday School (Texas) and Founding Director of Online School for Girls (DC)

Being More Versus Doing More

Independent schools are constantly asked to do more: more global, more diverse, more affordable, more STEM-oriented, more languages. At the same time, staff at schools feel stretched thin: not enough time, not enough resources, not enough space. And, schools cannot continue to increase tuition to expand resources at the same rate as was common on the 90s and 00s. So, how can schools “be more” without “doing more” themselves? We’ll explore this question within the context of the financial realities faced by contemporary independent schools.


Spencer Taintor

Spencer Taintor

Head of School of the Calverton School (Maryland)

Blending Education to Drive Sustainability

This presentation looks at using blended education in high schools to expand offerings while creating a financially sustainable model for the school. The presentation will explore online classes as electives, the financial benefits to a school with online classes, and the possibility of leveraging alumni as adjunct faculty in an online environment. The presentation will use a recent example of a school that implemented an online course work using existing faculty, the challenges of doing so in a school culture that was not already a blended school, and finally the challenges the students had in moving to an online platform.



Christopher Brueningsen

Christopher Brueningsen

Marcus Muster

Marcus Muster

Head of School and Director of Technology at the Kiski School for Boys.( Pennsylvania)

Making the Decision to Start an Online Program: Lessons to Be Learned

Since 2007, through multiple platforms and various directions, The Kiski School has been working to develop online components that serve the best interests of the school’s mission and characteristics. Because Independent Schools have traditionally been slower to adopt or consider the idea of online education, our presentation can offer insight on some of the successes and growing pains of entering into online education. This presentation includes what online platforms were used, what courses have been offered, and the multiple delivery mechanisms that we are currently using. Kiski has experience with synchronous and asynchronous instruction as well as blended models.


Mike Ehrhardt

Mike Ehrhardt

Head of School, Cary Academy (North Carolina)

The Mechanics of Launching an Online Learning Initiative

You think your school is ready to embrace some form of online learning options for students? Instead of building something from scratch, consider a collaborative. Hear tips from a head of school on how to approach evaluating and implementing an online program at your school. Areas covered will include: what to look for in a program, assessing why an online program is a good fit for your mission, making the case with the board, getting faculty involved, setting expectations with parents, and how the program looks and feels for students once it is up and running.



Peter Warsaw

Peter Warsaw (Deerfield)

Joel Backon

Joel Backon (Choate)

Choate Rosemary Hall Academic Tech Director  (Connecticut) and Deerfield Academy Academic Dean (Mass) of Eight Schools Association.

Dream, Design, and Deploy: The ESA Online Education Initiative – Year 2

A recent book by William G. Bowen projects that Higher Education in the Digital Age will be a transformative process for all but a few select schools. If one extends his model to independent schools, why does an elite group of boarding schools, whose mission it is to provide the highest quality face-to-face learning, leap into online education? In the online world, do we have the opportunity to further enhance what we do best in the face-to-face classroom? Join this panel discussion to hear the arguments for complementing tradition with innovation and transformation, “going forward with a backwards glance.”


Brad Rathgeber

Brad Rathgeber

Founding Director, Online School for Girls (Washington DC)

Think Like a Start-Up

Wired Magazine noted in March 2014: “Many successful education and innovation initiatives minimize expenses by pooling resources: faculty, research personnel, administrative services, coaching, labs, prototyping facilities, and more. Meanwhile, universities have become too bloated to properly allocate their own resources.” The same could be said of independent schools. And yet, by thinking like a start-up, schools can enhance teaching and learning, expand program and opportunity, and mitigate costs. This session will explore how that is possible.



Claire Goldsmith

Claire Goldsmith

Admissions Director, Stanford Online High School (California)

Building the Student Body: Admission in the Online Context

What makes students the right “fit” for online learning—and how can educators identify those students and assess their readiness? Participants will hear how the Stanford Online High School identifies future students from a geographically boundless pool, educates them on ways the school may serve their needs, assesses their preparation for synchronous, interactive, and community-focused learning through a selective admission process, and shapes a student body. Join a conversation on the challenges and opportunities of recruiting for online learning, the markers administrators should seek, and the importance of fit to the type of interaction and standards of various online models.



Sanje Ratnavale

Sanje Ratnavale

OESIS President, Sanje Ratnavale (California)

The Student Data Landscape

This session and discussion offers a survey of the landscape of data approaches including adaptive learning models and recent high profile initiatives; it asks the question of how our institutions can put innovation and technology use in our institutions on purpose to create more learning-centered, data-rich, and high-value education pathways.




Jane Camblin

Jane Camblin (UNIS)

Percy Harrison

Percy Harrison (ETON)

Ed Tech Panel including Head of School at UNIS ( NY)  and Director Eton Online Ventures (UK)

Working with Entrepreneurs and Technology Thought Leaders

Independent Schools are increasingly reaching out to edupreneurs within and outside their communities, participating in pilot programs and embracing technology opportunities for pedagogical leadership potential and even investment. In this Panel, you will hear from Eton College, one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the world, who have formalized this opportunity with the backing of their Trustees and faculty into a venture called Eton Online Ventures. Also participating will be panelists from other schools engaging in such initiatives.


Heather Staker

Heather Staker

Keynote, Heather Staker of Christensen Institute (California)

Workshop on Pathways to Blended Learning Implementation

In this 90 minute workshop, Heather Staker will offer granular advice and strategic pathways to implementing Blended Learning drawing on her recent book






Scott Roy

Technology Director and Placement Associate Carney Sandoe and Associates

Evangelize and Spider Eyes:  The Tech Director for the 21st Century

In this presentation, Carney Sandoe, the leading placement firm for independent schools talks about the Tech Director position with the experience of doing over 70 searches a year in this category. The discussion spans not only the entry skills but the emerging centraility of this position to the academic discussions, the need for pedagogical perspective and creativity as well as the hard skills managing an environment that is the prime utility of a school.