COVID-19 Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions are 40 minutes in length and include a presentation and live, interactive chat

Be sure to check back frequently for new additions to this lineup of sessions that directly address the impact of COVID-19 on school programs and initiatives.

#OwlsForLife: The Energy of the Student Alumnae Association

Stoneleigh-Burnham School has a vibrant sisterhood. Since it began in 2013, the Student Alumnae Association (SAA) at SBS has played a central role in growing alumnae engagement and has helped double the Annual Fund. When the School adapted to COVID-19 this spring, SAA members enthusiastically volunteered to present at virtual webinars for alumnae, recorded a video congratulating reunion classes, and served on a student panel during the virtual MegaReunion. Also, student involvement kept the Annual Fund on track during the pandemic: an online fundraising campaign on Mother’s Day used student testimonials and video, and gave alumnae and parents a chance to help the seniors with their Class Gift. It was a huge success and a win-win all the way around! In this session you’ll come away with ways SBS plans to continue this mutually beneficial student-alumnae relationship, even if students are off campus for part of the year. The SAA motivates SBS alumnae to help the next generation of girls become self-confident young women, and students gain important skills, have fun, and are inspired to become “Owls for Life.”

PRESENTERS: Susan Mattei, Director of Development and Alumnae Relations, and Darcy McCormick Tarbell ’70, Trustee | Stoneleigh-Burnham School


Bold and Creative: Engaging your Community during COVID-19

Before Spring Break, two Miss Hall’s students proposed a relief fund to help friends struggling to adjust travel plans as the coronavirus spread across the United States. Now $62,000 and 130 gifts strong, their idea — the Community Action Fund — helps members of the MHS community facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. A handful of trustees seeded the nascent fund and the initiative debuted as part of the popular Global Changemakers series spotlighting Miss Hall’s women changing the world. The Community Action Fund grew 50% on #GivingTuesdayNow, the school’s first-ever giving day, and continues to increase as it is embedded into every communication and is tied directly to the MHS mission “to inspire and encourage bold and creative contributors to the common good.”  This session about risk-taking, empowering teams, and a laser-focus on mission-centered communications is chock full of tips for engaging your community and leading with boldness and positivity in a crisis.

PRESENTERS: Merritt Colaizzi, Director of Advancement, and Julia Heaton, Head of School | Miss Hall’s School


Building Agility: Crafting Capital Projects During Times of Unprecedented Change

In these unprecedented times of disruption and uncertainty, it is more imperative than ever to approach a building project with a mindset of flexibility and adaptability. This is exactly what the Foxcroft School is doing as it embarks on a multi-phase project to expand and modernize their academic, arts and STEM facilities. Now in its second century, Foxcroft honors its founder’s charge to “Keep up with the times,” as it seeks to build upon its successful heritage while simultaneously preparing the girls to learn, grow and thrive in a digital age and a global economy. This vision involves teaching and learning in a residential community that is interdisciplinary and experiential, and that promotes collaboration and creativity. Striking a balance between clearly conveying a vision while remaining very flexible and agile, Foxcroft is crafting a building planning and fundraising process and a project that can pivot quickly and thoughtfully to respond to the current and future changes in we are facing in learning, the economy, and the world as a whole.

PRESENTERS: Cathy McGehee, Head of School | Foxcroft School, and Peter Winebrenner, Principal | Hord Coplan Macht Architects


Distance Learning 101:  Best Practices, Lessons Learned and Practical Tips

Overnight, we found ourselves in a world where distance learning became the new normal.  With the coming school year in flux, figuring out best practices for your school is essential for teaching and learning.    During this session, we will explore ways to leverage best practices for synchronous, asynchronous and blended distance learning models.  We will discuss lessons learned from the previous year and offer practical tips that can be used moving forward, including student reflections on their experience.

PRESENTER: Stacy Tippens, Educational Technology Specialist | The Madeira School


Empowering Student Voices: A Mathematical Journey through Blended Learning

In 2019, Ashley Hall launched a deep-dive into shifting classroom practices to empower student voices and personalize our mathematics curriculum. We will take participants on our journey from the past 18 months; sharing how to leverage learning walks to develop professional learning plans for educators and tools we use to measure success. We will also discuss unique ways we provide our girls opportunities to better understand their varying levels of mastery and how our students create their own action plans to support their learning through voice and choice.

PRESENTERS: Ed Dougherty, Director of Innovation; Polly Kronsberg, Director of Lower School; and Erin Libaire, Literacy Coordinator and Lower School Librarian | Ashley Hall


Examining School Sexual Misconduct Policies, Procedures, and Practices in the #metoo Era

Join National Cathedral School’s Denise Brown-Allen, Associate Head of School/Head of Upper School, and Jessica Clark, Dean of Student Life, for a discussion on the challenges associated with drafting and implementing policies that address sexual misconduct. With the mission of empowering young women and amid the #metoo movement, the discussion will explore best practices for educating students on the appropriate boundaries for student-student and student-adult interactions. Using case studies, we will explore the challenges and opportunities provided by this work and capitalize on the wisdom of each other’s experience and expertise around these issues. Attention will be given to adapting policies and practices for a variety of distance learning scenarios in 2020-2021. We invite participants to bring their policies, scenarios, and cases to share.

PRESENTERS: Jessica Clark, Dean of Student Life, and Denise Brown-Allen, Associate Head of School/Head of Upper School | National Cathedral School


Fall 2020: Repurposing Your Community Engagement and Social Impact Programs as a Result of COVID19

What preparations do you need to take now to prepare for the fall?  How can you repurpose your community engagement and partnership programs to maintain their outcomes while considering the limitations COVID 19 will place on their integrity.  Hear concrete examples from the National Network of Schools in Partnerships and the Institute for Social Impact at The Hockaday School on ways to shift your programs so your students still have authentic experiences with your community partners.

PRESENTERS: Blake Kohn, Executive Director | National Network of Schools in Partnership, and Laura Day, Executive Director of the Institute for Social Impact; Director of the Dr. William B. Dean Service Learning Program | The Hockaday School


From The Titanic to The Crown: How Scenario Planning Enabled a Support Team to “Stand up and Speak up” About Long Term Strategies

The use of scenario planning is a proven technique to enable an organisation’s strategy to incorporate a range of alternative futures in preparation for a unique 2020-2021 school year. Participants will access a series of tools to undertake their own scenarios, adopt a more dynamic strategy, and collaborate more effectively. In addition, the will learn how to create alternative strategic options for integrating business and education planning; build and create medium and long term scenarios; and transform a tactical, short term focused team into confident long term planners.

PRESENTER: Ian Wigston, Founder | Bright Field Consulting Ltd (UK)


Girls Gone Global: She Doesn’t Live Like You

In this session, the presenters will share their experience with teaching a global special studies program intended to challenge Upper School students to consider their worldview and critically examine their own experience of girlhood. The presenters discuss course objectives to expose girls to the lives of others in contexts entirely different from their own. This was done with the help of virtual classroom connections, media sources, and guided conversations. The course ended with establishing two key partnerships. With online learning having recently become the new normal, this course demonstrates how to conduct outreach and collaboration across school systems and countries/borders, putting into practice the global competences so essential to developing well-rounded citizen graduates of girls’ schools.

PRESENTERS: Alison Monzo, Director of Programs, and Manail Anis, Visiting Scholar | Center for the Advancement of Girls at The Agnes Irwin School


Girls’ Schools Standing Up and Speaking Out about COVID-19 from Around the World

Join this panel discussion of school leaders from Canada, South Korea, United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa to learn about how girls’ school leaders are responding to the needs of their school communities in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. What can be learned from this cross-cultural exchange of ideas? How are various phases of the pandemic being addressed in South Korea differently than in London, New York, Toronto, or Sydney? What is on the minds of these leaders right now and how are they preparing their school communities for the months ahead?

PRESENTERS: Paul Burke, Head of School | The Nightingale-Bamford School; Julian Dutnall, Exec. Headteacher & CEO of Trust | The Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls (UK); Sally James, Head of School | St. Stithians College (South Africa); Cinde Lock, Principal | Branksome Hall Asia; Marise McConaghy, Principal | Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar School (Australia); and Catherine Misson, Principal | Havergal College (Canada)


Laurel School Primary@Home

With very little warning, schools shifted to distance learning, and that came with particular challenges for our youngest learners. How would SEL continue? How much parent involvement would be needed? How would we continue to grow their skills and independence? We will share how Laurel School Primary teachers and their students found success online in academic courses, special area classes, community time, and more! We also ask that you bring your own successes and challenges to this conversation so that we may all learn from each other.
PRESENTERS: Bella Patel, Associate Director, Primary School, and Director of Strategic Programming, and Heather Havre, Director, Primary School | Laurel School

Opportunity in Crisis: Using Today’s Challenges to Prepare for the Future

When the Governor closed all schools in our state mid-March, we were about to launch our Interdisciplinary Institute, the first leg of a new Strategic Vision that prioritizes hands-on, authentic, and real-world approaches to interdisciplinary topics. We had to pivot quickly, temporarily set our Interdisciplinary Institute aside and rethink how to deliver the Baldwin School’s program online. But we never set aside our Strategic Vision. Throughout this virtual spring and as we plan for unprecedented challenges of the 2020-21 school year, we are still leaning into this vision in order to test different programming, build new skills in our teachers and our students, and continue with our strategic goal of providing our girls the skills to face the complex problems of the future. We even launched a reimagined Interdisciplinary Institute to finish this school year and reinforce the importance of hands-on, real-world learning. This session will explore how to use today’s crisis as an opportunity to make changes that accommodate new ways of teaching and learning and strategically position our girls and our schools for the future.

PRESENTERS: Laura Blankenship, Assistant Head of School, and Marisa Porges, Head of School | The Baldwin School


Partnering with Purpose: Looking Beyond Your School Building to Advance Girls

If we want to advance girls, especially in industries in which they are underrepresented, we need to look beyond our school buildings to supplement resources. In this session, we will explore research that illustrates the benefits of strategic partnerships for girls, especially to cultivate their sense of purpose and mitigate achievement pressure. This session will include practical strategies, obstacles to cultivating partnerships presented by COVID-19 and underscore the importance of developing strategic partnerships, even amidst these uncertain times. Finally, we will share how to conduct a school-wide needs audit and create a system of prioritizing partners.

PRESENTERS: Bridgette Ouimette, Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives, and Dr. Lauren Lek, Head of School | Academy of Our Lady of Peace


Preparing for the Next School Year in Uncertain Times

The next school year is sure to be like no other, with many unknowns. In this session, we’ll consider how schools should prepare academically for a variety of potential scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year. And, we’ll also look at what professional learning will be needed for faculty and leaders in order to deliver your school’s mission more fully when online.

PRESENTERS: Brad Rathgeber, Head of School, and Sarah Hanawald, Assistant Head of School for Professional Development and New Programs | One Schoolhouse


Promoting Active Citizenship and Civil Dialogue Schoolwide and Beyond

We will discuss Harpeth Hall’s recent formation of a Center for Civic Engagement in an era of increasing political polarization (and, recently, amidst an ongoing pandemic). Our mission is to prepare young women for civil, informed, and deliberative discourse in the public sphere and to empower our students to be active and informed citizens, to engage thoughtfully with public and private institutions, and to appreciate—through action and reflection—what is required for civil societies to thrive. Given the precarious nature of learning at this time, this mission is all the more essential. In May, Harpeth Hall conducted a school-wide symposium that addressed both the pandemic and the traits of leadership needed to address it. We will share what we have learned from that experience, discuss how our center came about, and encourage other educators in their work this fall.

PRESENTERS: Joe Croker, Instructor of English and Graphic Design; Bonnie Moses, History and AP Government Instructor; and Adam Wilsman, AP World History Instructor and Assistant Dean for Academic Advising | The Harpeth Hall School


Redefining “School Safety” Post-Pandemic: Empowering Girls for a New Security Landscape

COVID-19 is challenging how the United States defines its national security priorities. At the local level, schools and communities have been prompted to implement modified catastrophic scenario planning. While the long-term implications of this pandemic are yet to be determined, short-term indicators reveal a highly disrupted way of life for girls, as well as their communities. School security has taken on new meaning. Girl Security, a non-partisan, non-profit organization empowering girls in national security, equips girls with enduring skill sets for this precise reality: complex security scenarios involving unknown outcomes, difficult decisions, and limited information. Girls are agents of their security every day, just by existing as girls. However, Girl Security will share frameworks, best practices, and tools that schools can employ to empower girls amid uncertain security situations. Girl Security’s learning modules, simulations, and nationwide mentor network, advance core competencies to equip girls with leadership skills for life.

PRESENTERS: Lauren Buitta, Founder and Executive Director, and Tracy Walder, Member, Board of Directors, and Author | Girl Security


Shaped by Girls’ Schools: How Two Generations of Girls’ Schooling Has Contributed to Educating Amidst a Pandemic

Join us in a conversation about what it’s like for a mother and daughter who attended girls’ schools to share their experiences of teaching and leading virtually amidst a global pandemic.  How have girls’ schools shaped our understanding of voice and resilience? How do we encourage voice through online platforms? How have online platforms elevated some students’ voices that are not always heard in in-person classes? What work still needs to be done? How do we seek to empower all the girls in our care, understanding the limits of our whiteness, in cultivating the many voices in our classrooms? Did you know that over 70% of Essential Workers are women? How can we teach young girls and women to be global citizens and leaders? Bring your thoughts about how to encourage civil discourse and change in our all girls’ virtual classrooms, particularly against the backdrop of the upcoming US presidential election.

PRESENTERS: Ann Klotz, Headmistress | Laurel School, and Miranda Orbach, Class 2 Head Teacher | The Chapin School


Student-run Leadership Workshops and Residential Program During a Pandemic

Learn from students and adults who are responsible for leadership training at Culver Girls Academy, where student-led workshops are designed to increase self-awareness, build self-confidence, and develop each voice. The training fosters a sense of connectedness, appreciation for the collective good, and empowers young women to make a difference in the lives of others, establishing a solid foundation for leadership in the global world. This session will share how CGA student leaders adapted to online programming, and illustrate with examples and ideas how to build community and find purpose in leadership remotely.

PRESENTERS: Angie Strobel, CGA Residential Education Team Leader, and Nancy McKinnis, Master Instructor, Leadership Education | Culver Girls Academy


Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo: You Strike the Women, You Strike the Rock!

This session offers insights into how we, a South African girls’ school, continue to create opportunities that engage young women and strengthen their voices in a time of uncertainty and chaos. The analogy of Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ Imbokodo serves as a tool in teaching our girls that they are resilient and can be agents of change within any context. Reflecting on our adjusted initiatives such as the remote Maxeke-Mgqwetho Annual Lecture and our online ‘Hidden Figures’ project, we shall share our experience of the wonders and challenges of fostering sisterhood and agency in a time of COVID-19.

PRESENTERS: Tinhiko Nkuna, Deputy Head, and Alison Andrew, History Head of Department | St Mary’s School, Waverley-South Africa


What’s Feasible: Campaign Planning during COVID-19

Were you considering the feasibility of a campaign before COVID-19? If so, you weren’t alone: in recent years, nearly half of nonprofits nationwide reported they had been in a capital or special campaign within the last six months, and 30 percent report that they’re planning one. Though this may be a time to reconfigure planning, it is not the time to stop asking and structuring your efforts.

Though it might seem counterintuitive, now could be a strategic time to launch a campaign planning study. Learn why as Graham-Pelton shares key insights about organizations who have conducted successful feasibility studies amid the pandemic and are now moving into their campaigns with confidence and clarity. Attendees will also learn the elements required to launch a successful and rewarding effort for staff, leadership, and donors alike, focusing on the five elements needed to help your vision for your School become fully realized: your case, leadership, plan, prospects, and resources.

PRESENTER: Elizabeth Zeigler, President and CEO | Graham-Pelton