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The Grand Waltz. The Head of School And The Board of Trustees. The Waltz in a Nutshell. You guide them, and they employ you. Mission, Resources, and Strategy. Mission: The board is the steward of the mission

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The grand waltz

The Grand Waltz

The Head of School


The Board of Trustees

The waltz in a nutshell
The Waltz in a Nutshell

You guide them, and they employ you.

Mission resources and strategy
Mission, Resources, and Strategy

Mission: The board is the steward of the mission

Resources: The board is the steward of the school’s resources (people, facilities, and financial) both now and for the future

Strategy: The board holds the future of the school in its trust and works in partnership with the head to set the strategic direction of the school

Who leads
Who Leads?

The Head of School, of course!

Primary Responsibility of the Head of School: To oversee the implementation of the school’s educational mission and to manage daily operations

• Work in close partnership with the board of trustees to develop and implement a strategic vision for the school

• Embody the pursuit of knowledge and love of learning (“Headmaster”)

• Manage communication for the school; chief storyteller & problem-solver

• Manage personnel (hiring, firing, etc.)

• Oversee and guide all program and policy decisions

Who leads1
Who Leads?

The Board of Trustees, of course!

Primary Responsibility of the Board of Trustees: To govern the school by offering time, talent, and treasure (work, wisdom, and wealth)

Selects, evaluates, and supports the Head of School

Develops broad institutional policies that guide the Head of School

Safeguards the financial well-being of the school

Acts as a whole unit, not as self-interested individuals

Board composition
Board Composition

Members and Ex-Officio Members

Parents (Current and Past)


Fellow Head of School or Senior Administrator

Community Members/Friend of the School

(Faculty/Student Representative: NOT ADVISED)

Board committees
Board Committees

Buildings and Grounds/Campus Stewardship





Committee on Trustees/Governance

Other Possibilities: Community/Diversity; Education

The dance floor the board meeting
The Dance Floor:The Board Meeting

Approval of the Minutes/Consent Agenda

Board Chair Report

Head of School Report

Committee Reports

Key Policy Discussions and Decisions (Votes)

Generative Thinking

The head s dance partner the board chair
The Head’s Dance Partner:The Board Chair

You are the board chair. You receive an email signed by the faculty expressing disapproval of the firing of the school’s beloved Middle School English teacher (who had been with the school for 15 years). The letter requests a meeting with the trustees. The head of school had discussed the impending firing with you before the action was taken, and you had agreed that the action was necessary.

As board chair, what do you do about the email from the faculty?

(a) You call the head, report the email, and say that you feel it is necessary to meet with the faculty, preferably without the head, to show them that you want to hear their concerns.

(b) You write a thoughtful response to the faculty on behalf of the board.

(c) You ignore the email, assuming that head of school will weather the crisis.

(d) You send a response to the faculty saying that although you understand their concern, hiring and firing decisions are the domain of the head, whose action you support.

(e) You call a special board meeting to deal with the crisis.  

Dancing in step
Dancing in Step

A trustee is watching the boys’ varsity basketball team play abysmally against a rival school.The trustee’s 15 year-old is a player on the team, and the teen has often complained that the basketball coach is "no good" and "mean."  At the game, another parent makes a snide remark to the trustee about the athletics program and expresses doubts the abilities of the coach.

What is the trustee supposed to do?

(a) Tell the parent that she/he is concerned too and will raise the issue at the next board meeting.

(b) Change the subject and decide not to share the conversation with the head.

(c) Ask around to see if others share similar views and then report the findings to the board chair.

(d) Find an opportunity to talk to the head about the concerns about the athletics program and coach.

(e) Write a note to the Director of Athletics to report parents’ concerns.

One two three
One, Two, Three….

Seek to serve as a trustee of a non-profit you love

Request permission from the Head of School to join or audit a full board meeting or committee meetings

Read the NAIS Trustee Handbook to familiarize yourself with best practices in school governance

Let s play bingo
Let’s Play Bingo!

Board’s Decision

Head of School’s Decision

Joint Decision between the Head and the Board