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  • 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.

Apply to be a Futurist Fellow

Join a Team Selected To Explore What is Next for Independent Education. Apply to be a Futurist, applications open December 1 - February 9, 2018

NWAIS invites community members to apply to be recognized as the 2018-19 Futurist Fellows. In the first three years, one team was selected to explore a topic of their choosing over the course of a year, and then disseminate their learning to the rest of the NWAIS community.

NWAIS invites you to imagine the future of Independent Schools through a design experience with an interdisciplinary group of colleagues. Applicants will apply as an individual and will be selected to serve on the team.

Guiding Question: How might we reimagine our current schools so that we sustain, flourish and thrive into the future. Using this guiding question, the team will develop a design question to explore over the course of the year.

In keeping with best practices, this model is learning-centered, provides an opportunity to authentically experience 21st century skills, and supports project-based learning and design thinking.

To accomplish this exciting and perhaps daunting task, Futurist Fellows will be teamed with a group of other big thinkers in the community to utilize a design-thinking paradigm to explore a subset of these big questions. Fellows will apply independently and be placed on the team.

We are actively looking for team members with a variety of skills sets, including:

  • Finance
  • Advancement
  • Leadership
  • Teachers and Coaches
  • Program and Instruction
  • Facilities
  • Inter-Organizational Partnerships
  • Equity, Diversity and Social Justice
  • Communications
  • Workforce and Faculty Development
  • Data Analysis
  • Graphic Design
  • IT and Technology
  • Governance

“Design Thinking is a mindset. It’s Human-Centered. It’s Collaborative. It’s Optimistic. It’s Experimental.” - IDEO

Not sure about how you work intersects with design thinking? Explore the many applications to education from one of the premier design-thinking firms, IDEO.


  • Applicants must be employed at NWAIS schools (more than .75 FTE)
  • Team members may be teachers, administrators or staff
  • All members from NWAIS schools must have a recommendation of their head of school and/or Direct Supervisor (this will be a written recommendation and slightly more significant than the endorsement, requested in previous years. For that reason, schools may limit the number of applicants from each institution)
  • The project will address a question that impacts NWAIS schools and be sufficiently different from work already undertaken as a part of the applicants’ work at school or in a NWAIS planning committee
  • Members of teams who have previously applied are welcome to reapply

Time Line

  • December 1, 2018: Application open
  • February 9, 2018: Application deadline
  • April 2018: Fellows will be informed
  • May 2018: Fellows will be announced
  • August 2018: First disbursement of funds ($1,000 each)
  • October 11, 2018: Kick off retreat
  • October 2018 - May 2019: Project Development, Research and Compilation of Findings: Meetings throughout the year will be designed and carried out independently by the team. They will have access to video meeting platforms, and may choose to meet in person as well. The awards should be used to cover the costs of meetings during the year.
  • June 2019: Second disbursement of funds ($1,000 each) and concluding retreat
  • Fall 2019: Presentation at an NWAIS event such as Fall Educators Conference or Fall Heads Meeting.


Apply by downloading the application, completing it and submitting it to Emily McGrath, Director of Professional Development, NWAIS in a single Word document (this document may contain links to images or video answers).


The team will design a product that will make their learning visible to NWAIS and its member schools and help them navigate the issue in the future. We hope that the group will have a chance to present their ideas in a workshop or presentation, as well, but the product must be something that can be referred back to over time and shared among our schools.It can be physical or digital.

Examples of products could include:

  • A list of guiding questions, with background information, for schools to consider in their strategic planning
  • An infographic which describes of the regional competitive landscape of educational opportunities for k-12 students
  • A sample business plan for a new financial model of school
  • A body of research around demographic or societal trends in education
  • A prototype schedule for a school that shifting focus to SEL or 21st Century Skills Based Curriculum
  • A toolkit to rethink time and calendars
  • Physical designs for schools that are more teacher and student centered

Recommendation and Endorsement

Each applicant also needs the endorsement of their Head of School as well as a recommendation from a colleague (who may also be your head of school).

  1. Recommendation / endorsement form (Send to All Recommenders)
  2. Endorsement form (send to Heads of School, if someone else completed your recommendation)


The group will gather in person, on October 11, 2018 for kick-off retreat, with a facilitator to develop the group into a team, grow skills around design thinking and start the designing process. Fellows will leave with a clear picture of their design questions, a work plan for the year, and a vision for their project product. All costs for travel and programming will be covered by the fellowship. The project will conclude with a final retreat at the end of the school year. This retreat will be driven by the Fellows, rather than a facilitator and will be a chance to coalesce the findings and create the final product.


Each fellow will be awarded $2,000 to contribute to the expenses of the project and to compensate team members for their time and work. The first disbursement of $1,000 will be made at the time of the award (August 2018). The second disbursement of $1,000 will be made, in the same way, at the time the product is submitted (June 2019). Award funds may be used to pay or reimburse team members for project related expenses, such as materials and meetings. It is also expected that a portion of the budget will be for stipends for the team. Typical expenses might include: travel, meeting expenses, conference registrations, research expenses, production of the team's product, substitute expenses, materials, etc. The cost of the two retreats and associated travel expenses will be covered by NWAIS directly, and will not need to be funded through the awards.

Each team member will need to submit a w9 form to receive his or her disbursement. Team members will be responsible for any tax-related implication of receiving the award.

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Northwest Association of Independent Schools
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