We are committed to...
  • encouraging diverse points of view.
  • continuous reflection and on-going improvement.
  • collegial relationships and ethical leadership.
  • independent education options for families.
  • promoting the independence of our schools.
  • quality standards without standardization.
  • assisting schools in fulfilling their missions.

NWAIS Conferences, Workshops and Events

New Heads Institute

Date: Wednesday - July 28, 2021
Time: All Day
Location: Cedarbrook Lodge
July 28-29, 2021



NWAIS New Heads Institute

July 28-29, 2021

Two-Day Conference

Cedarbrook Lodge, Seattle, WA





Finance, Governance and Culture:

The Three-Legged Stool of School Leadership



Registration Is On Hold and

Will Re-Open July 1, 2021


The NHI gave me both the tools and the confidence to start my school year off with vision and strategies. It was immensely powerful to connect with such a diverse, passionate and talented group of leaders. I left the conference feeling excited about my new role rather than nervous about all of the things I still have left to learn.

– Past Attendee


Attending this conference is a must for new heads, whether you are brand new to the position or new to the region. It's a great opportunity to learn some new things, confirm some existing ideas, and to form connections with other HOS's in the association prior to the Fall Head's Conference.

– Past Attendee

Who Should Attend?


New and newer Heads of School should attend. The program will be built around those that are stepping into their roles this year or last year.  This is an intimate event, and generally has fewer than 10 attendees, providing an opportunity to build strong relationships with new colleagues. Centered on building relationships within the Association, attendees will learn about the many benefits of membership, experience valuable sessions, and take time for planning as you embark on new phase of your leadership journey.



Planning to Attend the NAIS Institute For New Heads?

These two programs are wonderful complements to each other.  One recommendation would be to attend the NWAIS institute in the summer you take on your role and the NAIS Institute once you have completed year one, or do both in the first year.  If you would like to hear more about the right order and fit for you, please call and discuss the opportunities with Emily McGrath, Associate Director.




This was invaluable time spent with colleagues and mentors. The return on my time and money spent for this Institute is incalculable.

- Past Attendee



Session Programming Will:

  • Provide 1:1 coaching to help you plan for a thoughtful transition and launch into your new headship
  • Match and manage a new school culture.
  • Understand regional and cultural dynamics in the Northwest.
  • Hear “lessons learned” from veteran heads on building trust and developing strong working relationships with all constituencies. 
  • Discuss how to work with your board on moving your school forward.
  • Provide a variety of useful strategies and tools to help you enhance the success of your first year, including crafting your entry plan for your new role.
  • Develop an understanding of the variety of outside resources available to help you and your school.
  • Connect you with other Heads of School and your association


Coming from the public school setting, the New Heads Institute provided me with insightful knowledge and valuable activities to help me transition to my new role as Head of School.

  – Past Attendee


Conference Format and Content

8:30am, Wednesday, July 28 - 4:00pm on Thursday, July 29, 2021.

Heads of School Reception: July 28, 5:00-7:00pm. On the evening of Wednesday, July 28, Heads from across the association will be invited to welcome you and start to build connection over a reception and dinner.


Attending this workshop is a fantastic way to begin your new headship. You will emerge with more confidence, a set of colleagues that you can draw upon for support, and a well-vetted plan to implement in your school. This is time well spent!

– Past Attendee




The program will be led by Matt Culberson, Head of School at Wasatch Academy, Briel Schmitz, Head of School at Spruce Street School and Mark Crotty, Executive Director of NWAIS.  The faculty will be joined by NWAIS staff and board members, and other guest speakers including current heads of school.

Matt Culberson, Head of School, Wasatch Academy

Briel Schmitz, Head of School at Spruce Street School

Mark Crotty, Executive Director of NWAIS


NWAIS Attendees

Early Bird (By July 9, 2021) $875
Regular (By July 19, 2021) $995
Late (After July 19, 2021) $1125

Non-NWAIS Attendees  - $1300 (anytime)

Please note in your planning there has been a slight increase in the event cost due to covid requirements



Travel Reimbursement

NWAIS will cover a portion of travel costs incurred by member schools to attend professional development events.

Click here for travel share reimbursement form


Due to the small size of this event, we are not setting up a room block.

The event will be held in the lovely Cedarbrook Lodge Conference Center. You are welcome to make a reservation online through the hotel to stay onsite. For the best available rate or use AAA or AARP if you are members or join STASH rewards for the best pricing incentive.

Cedarbrook Online Reservation Portal

Alternatively, attendees can also stay at one of the other options close to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. If you would like assistance in setting up accommodations, please contact Jami Sheets at jsheets@nwais.org

Cancellation Policy
Substitutions may be made any time prior to the conference. Written cancellations received by July 19, 2021 are eligible for a refund after a $75 cancellation fee. Cancellations received after July 19, 2021 are ineligible for any refund.



NWAIS Is Going Paperless.
All program materials will be provided electronically.

If there are pre-event materials, they will be sent to you via email about a week prior to the event. Please bring a internet connected device, download the materials in advance or print out the digital materials and bring them with you. We will not have hard-copy packets for attendees on-site.



Attendees Will Be Eligible For Clock Hours And / Or STARS Credits

Attendees receive clock hours and STARS free of charge. The original clock hours form or your STARS certificate will be mailed back to you for your records. If you need to petition another agency for credits or you would like a certificate for your files, NWAIS is happy to provide one upon request at no charge.



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Northwest Association of Independent Schools
5001 California Ave. SW, Suite 112
Seattle, Washington 98136
T: 206.323.6137 • info@nwais.org
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