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Assistant / Division Heads Conference

Date: Wednesday - January 26, 2011
Time: All Day
Location: Mohonk Mountain House
New York State Association of Independent Schools
Assistant Heads Association

The 2011 Conference for Assistant Heads and Division Heads
(for Assistant and Associate Heads, Division Heads, Deans, and others who manage in the middle)
Visit the conference wiki for lots of resources and notes.



10:00 AM
Cliff View Room


New Division Heads Workshop
Led by Marcy Mann and George Swain

(prior registration of the 3-part workshop required)

12:00 noon
Lake Lounge

Conference Committee Meeting

3:00 PM
Laurel Lounge

Welcoming  Reception for New Administrators and those new to the Mohonk Conference

 4:00 PM

Registration Desk opens. Tea in Lake Lounge.

 5:00 PM
Main Parlor

Welcoming Remarks by Conference Committee

George Swain, Poughkeepsie Day School, NY


General Session 1 –The Science of Human Potential

Speaker: David Shenk 

Is true greatness obtainable from everyday means and everyday genes? Conventional wisdom says no, that a lucky few are simply born with certain gifts while most are not; that talent and high intelligence are somewhat scarce gems, scattered throughout the human gene pool; that the best we can do is to locate and polish these rare gems— and accept the limitations and mediocrity built into the rest of us.  The new science of human potential suggests otherwise.


7:00 PM
Main Dining Room

Reception & Dinner — Assigned seatsWelcome by Mark Lauria, Executive Director of NYSAIS


8:00 AM
Main Dining Room

Buffet Breakfast



9:00 AM
Main Parlor


General Session – Introduction to Open Space also known as Unconference

Leaders: Ben Chant, Friends Seminary, and Barbara Swanson, NYSAIS

This session allows for spontaneous discussions, presentations and conversations about the topics which are at the forefront of our radar screens. The interactive format is based on the following principles:

  • Whoever comes are the right people 
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have 
  • Whenever it starts is the right time 
  • When it's over, it's over 

9:30 AM

Session 2 - Open Space Meetings/Discussions


10:45 AM

Coffee Break

11:00 AMSession 3 - Open Space Meetings/Discussions

12:30 noon
Main Dining Room

Buffet Lunch



12:30 noon
East Dining Room

Lunch Meeting - So You Want to Be a Head?


Afternoon free, with some options. Rest and Relaxation —

a chance to explore the Mountain House and grounds, and the spa, in addition to an opportunity to talk with colleagues. See Guest Services for Mohonk activities and ski / skating equipment.


4:00 PM

Tea in Lake Lounge -  optiona

4:30 PM



Session 4 – Student Mindsets and Their Role in School Success

Speaker: Kevin Mattingly

Presider: Diane Spillios, Chapin School 

Student beliefs about why some of their peers do well in school and others don't can have powerful influences on their effort and performance. Based on the work of Carol Dweck at Stanford University, this session will focus on different student "mindsets" and ways we can help all our students become more successful and self-regulated learners.

6:00 PM


Assistant Heads

Cocktails and dinner

East Dining Room 

Division Heads

Cocktails and dinner

Main Dining Room 



8:00 AM
Main Dining Room

Buffet Breakfast

9:00 AM


Session 5 – Engaging Student Attention (and subsequent memory) by Using Curiosity and Prediction

Speaker: Judy Willis, MD, M.Ed

The brain develops knowledge by following its hard wired curiosity about the environment, trying things, building up categories of related information by relating new input to existing neural networks (extending existing patterns, schema). This is the essence of intelligence.

How does the brain turn sensory input into memory and useable knowledge using curiosity and prediction for engagement and alert, sustained focus?

In this presentation, you’ll experience for yourself the power of the “alien” that controls what information gets into your brain, and the brains of learners. Once you literally experience your own attention filter/editor making involuntary selections of which sensory input is selected to pass into your own higher brain, you’ll learn what it takes to make the “cut” and how to strategies to be ensure that learners’ brains "want to know what they have to learn".

10:30 AM


10:45 AM


General Session 6 –Getting Information Into the Brain, Through the Filters, and Up to the Highest Learning and Memory Center as YOU create your own RAD lesson or unit plan neuro-LOGICAL strategies

Speaker: Judy Willis, MD, M.Ed
As brain imaging studies and cognitive neuroscience continue to give a clearer picture of how individuals respond to sensory stimuli and perform cognitive tasks, we have been accumulating knowledge about the brain's learning systems. You already know and may use the most Neuro-LOGICAL strategies, but when you understand how they are consistent with neuroscience and cognitive science research, you will find yourself making more informed selections of the strategies that make learning resonate with your students and you will enjoy the fruits of more engaged students.

12:30 PM

Lunch in Main Dining Room


Kevin Mattingly, Dean of Faculty joined the Lawrenceville School faculty in 1993. He holds a Ph.D. in Zoology (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) and a B.A. in Biological Sciences from Indiana University, where he was a Teaching Fellow from 1975-80.

A "teacher of teachers," Mattingly is an adjunct professor in the Department of Organization and Leadership at Columbia University Teachers College, where he teaches courses on learning theory and its implications for curriculum design and instruction. He was a master teacher in science for 17 years in its Klingenstein Summer Institute for young teachers and now teaches in the Leadership Academy, a Columbia University degree program in educational leadership. Mattingly has presented numerous workshops and training sessions for public and private high schools on interdisciplinary curriculum development, classroom teaching strategies linked to learning theory, and student assessment methods.

His wife Kristi is a first grade public school teacher and their sons, Benjamin and Daniel, are graduates of Lawrenceville School.

David Shenk is the award-winning and national-bestselling author of six books, including The Forgetting ("remarkable" - Los Angeles Times), Data Smog ("indispensable" - New York Times), and The Immortal Game ("superb" - Wall Street Journal). He is a correspondent for The, and has contributed to National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, Gourmet, Harper's, The New Yorker, NPR, and PBS. His new book The Genius in All of Us has been called "a deeply interesting and important book" by the New York Times.


Judy Willis, MD, M.Ed: After graduating Phi Beta Kappa as the first woman graduate from Williams College, Judy Willis attended UCLA School of Medicine. She practiced neurology for fifteen years before returning to university to obtain her Teaching Credential and Masters of Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has taught in elementary, middle, and graduate schools and currently teaches at Santa Barbara Middle School.

Her books include: Research-Based Strategies To Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist/Classroom Teacher (2006), Brain-Friendly Strategies for the Inclusion ClassroomTeaching the Brain to Read: Strategies for Improving Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension (2008) ASCD. She is completing a fourth ASCD book about research-based strategies for math instruction. (2007), and

Dr. Willis has been an international consultant for professional and curriculum development for ASCD International Professional Development Program in the United Arab Emirates. She is presenter at educational conferences nationally and internationally in the field of learning-centered brain research and classroom strategies derived from this research.

Dr. Willis writes extensively for professional educational journals. Website:

Registration is a 2-part process. Be sure to do both. Registration open in the Fall, 2010.
1. Reserve your room with Mohonk.
Click here: Mohonk Residential Reservation Form for room and all meals. Or reserve by phone: 845-255-1000.
Click here: Mohonk Day Guest Reservation Form (Meals Only)


2. Registration and Credit Card Payment*
Early Registration Fees apply until 2 weeks before the event
  • NYSAIS Members - $300.00 - Register Here
  • Non-members -  $325.00 - Register Here
Regular Registration Fees apply within 2 weeks of the event