NYSAIS Principles of Best Practice
These Best Practices are offered by the Board of Trustees of NYSAIS for highly practical reasons; experience indicates that when they are followed schools benefit and when they are not followed it is to the detriment of the individuals and institutions involved. Open and forthright communication is critical within the context of appropriate and thoughtful expectations of all involved.
The overriding good practice in admissions is full and complete communication between sending and receiving schools. Correspondence between schools about students, parents or teachers is absolutely confidential unless otherwise agreed upon.
- A school should never accept a student without requesting a transcript and other pertinent information from the student’s present school.
- A sending school should not release records or transcripts for departing students until all financial obligations have been met.
- Although healthy competition is encouraged, schools should not engage in overt recruitment of students from other schools, e.g. targeted personal mailings, parents or children of one school calling parents or children of another, and personal invitations to recruiting events.
- A school should focus on its own strengths and let itself and all others be judged by their performance and reputation in the communities they serve. A school should not allow anyone in the official capacity to discuss with applicants the alleged weaknesses of competitor schools.
- Schools should not permit counter offers of financial aid to be used as a basis of bargaining for students.
A strong Board of Trustees works together. The board is seen by all trustees as being greater than the sum of the individuals it comprises. Discussion may be lively, even contentious, but the decision of the Board trumps individual opinion, and the principle of mutual respect always applies. The ethos and tenor of the Board is collaborative and united, always holding the school’s mission in tight focus as the basis of all actions and decisions.
Members of a strong Board of Trustees set aside their own special interests. Each trustee adds value through personal attributes and experience. But each trustee must also subordinate the personal to the good of the overall institution. This is hardest, and also most important, for trustees who are parents of students currently in the school.
- A strong Board of Trustees offers solid support to Head, administration, faculty and school.
- It is essential both to ask searching questions and to provide appropriate, constructive criticism. It is no less essential to avoid sharing negative perceptions with non-trustees or any form of gossip with anyone.
- A strong Board of Trustees puts tremendous care into hiring the right Head. The Head is the only person at the school hired and reviewed by the Board, with a contract renewed as the Board sees fit. The initial selection is therefore among the Board’s most critical responsibilities to the school community.
- A strong Board of Trustees is careful not to try to do the Head’s job. Rather it supports the Head’s efforts in every way possible, including through constructive criticism and annual evaluation.
- A strong Board of Trustees expects accurate and complete information from the Head. There should be full disclosure of appropriate information in both directions and no surprises.
- A strong Board of Trustees is led by a strong Chair, who develops a positive and productive relationship with the Head. A component of this relationship is to acknowledge that mistakes will be made by both; the goal is to learn from them and move beyond them, not to pretend they will not or did not happen. By the same token, the Chair must also deal, honestly and effectively, with Board members who hijack Board discussions and/or administrative time with personal issues or agendas.
- A strong Board of Trustees is one in which real discussion is followed by real decision. Board leaders and the Head work hard to make sure Board meetings are engaging and meaningful, offering opportunities to move the school forward in directions that are agreed to be valuable and important. Members attend meetings faithfully, having carefully reviewed all distributed information. They express and resolve their ideas and differences within Board meetings – and leave them there. Confidentiality is an essential ingredient of Board effectiveness.
- A strong Board of Trustees thinks strategically, with one eye always on the institution’s future. This thinking is embodied in providing the financial resources of the school, and in long range planning that embraces input from all school constituencies. Members also participate in the full range of school fundraising activities, and recognize that their own level of giving is one of the keys to the school’s success.
- A strong Board of Trustees builds trust in the community by developing a track record of trustworthy action and transparent communication. In this regard it is essential that both Board and Head fully endorse and take responsibility for not just their own but each other’s actions and communications.
[Top of Page]
Heads and the Search Process
- Heads who are sought after for another post or are exploring other opportunities should inform their present board chair if they decide to explore the opportunity seriously.
- Heads intending to leave a school should give the board sufficient time to allow the school to conduct a proper search for a successor. Experience indicates that the search process usually takes at least eight months.
- Schools should not permit excessive or intrusive visiting by search committees or consultants who wish to question colleagues or students with whom a candidate works. Arrangements for such visits should be made between the candidate and the head or if the head is a candidate, the head and the board chair.
- Boards should not inquire of search consultants about replacing their present head without the head’s knowledge.
[Top of Page]
Hiring of Faculty and Staff
A happier more productive and less secretive atmosphere exists in a school that supports its teachers’ ambitions. Obstacles should not be placed in the way of a faculty member who is, without violating contract, looking for different employment.
- A school should neither hire nor make an offer for immediate employment to a teacher or administrator whose contract with another school is in force.
- A school should not hire a teacher or administrator without consulting the school or schools where the candidate works or has previously worked.
- Written recommendations should be as clear and candid as possible within the bounds of good taste and contemporary standards. At least one oral discussion of a candidate’s qualifications should be conducted between schools before an offer is made.
- Heads should not feel obligated to search consultants to suggest or comment on candidates from schools other than their own.
- Under normal circumstances, names should be suggested or comments made to consultants or to others involved in a search only with the advice and consent of the candidate in question.
- Surreptitious efforts by one school to recruit an employee of another school should not be made. All teachers and administrators, however, may on their own initiative explore opportunities elsewhere in confidence.
[Top of Page]
Professional development for educators is essential to the viability and growth of our schools. It is incumbent upon each member school to embrace professional development and set the highest goals and standards. To this end, the NYSAIS Professional Development Committee sets forth the following principles for schools to consider as they establish their own professional development programs, with the understanding this is a process affected by budget considerations.
A school with a strong professional development program supports faculty and staff in their desire to improve their effectiveness and skills by providing appropriate resources, mentoring, and evaluation. The head of school and the upper level administrators set the example of professional development through participation in activities, workshops, and conference opportunities.
A school with a strong Professional Development Program:
- Applies 1% or more of its operating budget to professional development activities.
- Designates a professional development liaison to coordinate professional development within the school and with NYSAIS.
- Develops a toolkit that draws on diverse perspectives and scientific research both within and beyond the school community.
- Underwrites technology—hardware, software, and training—for faculty and encourages use of the NYSAIS website.
- Offers unconditional release time to faculty and staff so they can pursue professional development opportunities without having to “pay back” class/coaching/dormitory time.
- Establishes, promotes, and supports professional development reading through subscribing to professional journals and maintaining a professional development library.
- Promotes opportunities for summer professional development through grants, travel funds, books, online course work, etc.
- Incorporates orientation programs for new faculty and staff at the beginning of each year, and encourages participation in special programs for beginning teachers (such as NYSAIS’ BTI).
- Makes a commitment to assist veteran faculty/administrators mentoring new faculty/administrators.
- Includes professional development in the review of faculty and staff performance.
Uses the NYSAIS (where appropriate) self-study, committee visit, and report as a means to promote professional development.
[Top of Page]