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Conferences and Workshops
(Click here for the 2019-2020 Professional Development Series PDF)


2013 Heads of School Conference

January 31 - February 1, 2013

Chicago, IL

** Online registration for the 2013 Heads of School Conference is now closed. If you are interested in attending, please contact the ISACS office at 312-255-1244. 

Dear Heads of School,

The ISACS Heads Conference is meant only for heads of schools.  It is the place where heads can talk to other heads—the only people who understand their perspective.  The “meat” of this year’s conference will look at some perennial topics as well as some cutting edge topics from just that—the head’s perspective--and so that is the theme of this year’s conference!

The topics for the 2013 ISACS Heads Conference, The Head’s Perspective, are board relations, globalization, professional development, legal issues, online learning, innovation, and diversity. For each, we will bring in a speaker with great experience with that particular topic, and ask them to address it from the perspective of the head of school.  There will be time in each session for heads to ask questions and join the conversation.  Heads will be able to select up to five of the topics.  In addition, there will also be sessions featuring panels of heads on gender issues in the headship and the head’s career.

Pat Bassett will keynote on Thursday, giving us a farewell speech dedicated to what he has learned about leadership over the years.  Pat has been a great independent school leader, both at ISACS and at NAIS, and I know you will want to be there to say goodbye and wish him well.

Conclave sessions for heads of similar schools have become an enjoyable and important part of every heads conference.  We also have a session for Michigan heads, progressive school heads, training sessions for beginning and experienced visiting team heads, a session describing a new, rotational  approach to accreditation, and a session for St. Louis school heads to plan for the Annual Conference there in November, 2013.  Informal breaks and meals, including a lovely dinner on Thursday night at Wildfire, will provide plenty of time for networking and socializing. 

For the closing keynote on Friday, Yong Zhao will make the case that American schools, and in particular American independent schools, far from trailing the world in results are actually far ahead.  It promises to be an inspirational end and an excellent message to take back to your school communities.

The conference will end at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, so make your travel plans accordingly.  We will have “bonus” workshops from 2:15 – 3:30 pm, however, for those who want to stay.

This conference was designed specifically for you as heads of schools.  It should be a great professional learning experience as well as a good break to catch up with old colleagues and meet new ones.  I would love to see all of you there.

Keith Shahan
ISACS President

The Head’s Perspective
Click here for the conference brochure.

Dates and Time
The conference will begin at 9:30 am (registration at 8:30 am) on Thursday, January 31 and will conclude at 3:30 pm on Friday, February 1, 2013.

Keynote Speakers

  • Pat Bassett, NAIS
  • Yong Zhao, University of Oregon

Featured Speakers

  • Leo Athas, ISACS Retained General Counsel
  • Peter Kraft, Park Tudor School
  • Claudia Daggett, Elementary School Heads Association
  • Michael Nachbar,  Global Online Academy
  • Rich Nourie, Abington Friends School
  • Jill Webb, ISACS Director of Professional Development

Click here for keynote and featured speaker bios.

Schedule and Session Descriptions

Click here for conference schedule.

Click here for session descriptions.


Thank you to ERB, which will be sponsoring the Thursday luncheon.

ERB is continually evolving and helping our members remain on the cutting edge of the changing educational landscape, and lighting the pathway to learning in collaboration with our member schools. ERB creates assessment and learning solutions that help schools inform instruction and admission decisions through diagnosis of assessment results that address essential learning standards. Today, we meet this mission through new technologies, advanced testing programs, supplemental learning offerings and consulting services for member schools worldwide, Pre K - Grade 12. More info at

Thank you to Independent School Benefits Consortium (ISBC) who will be sponsoring the Friday luncheon.

Now more than ever, offering benefits to faculty & staff is a shifting landscape with complex questions. The ISBC has been helping schools navigate and stabilize their benefits decisions with comprehensive offerings for 10 years. Created by Oswald in conjunction with a steering committee of your peers, ISBC provides a predictable, high-service benefits alternative with the advantage of risk-reduction initiatives. During this health care evolution, evaluate ISBC as the solution for your independent school.

Reception and Dinner - Thursday, January 31, 2013

All registrants and spouses/partners are invited to attend the official conference dinner at Wildfire, 159 West Erie Street.  The reception and dinner will be an opportunity to enjoy Chicago while mingling with your peers in a social setting. The reception begins at 6:00 pm with dinner following at 7:00 pm.

Pre-registration is required for this dinner event for yourself and your guest. Dinner is included in your registration fee; pre-registration is required during the online registration process. If you are bringing a guest, an additional fee of $75 is required. Please call the ISACS office to register your guest for the dinner. There is no onsite registration for the dinner.

ISACS will provide roundtrip transportation to/from Wildfire. Please meet in the hotel lobby. More details will follow.

We invite heads of school to bring along their spouse/partner to Chicago. Spouses and partners are welcome to attend any session and lunch at no charge. If your spouse/partner plans to join ISACS for any of the meal functions, please call the ISACS office at 312-255-1244.

Conference Location
The conference will take place at the Swissôtel, 323 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL. 

Hotel Accommodations
The Swissôtel
323 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 

The conference will take place at The Swissôtel, designed by Harry Weiss, the Swissôtel is a triangular glass building – one of the distinctive features of the city skyline along the Chicago River. The hotel is within walking distance of the best attractions the city of Chicago has to offer like Millennium Park, Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, the theater district, and the Magnificent Mile. 

ISACS has secured special discounted room rates at the Swissôtel:

  • $146/night for standard king single or double occupancy.
  • $176/night for single or double occupancy plus access to executive lounge cache which serves breakfast each morning (6:30 am – 10:00 am) and evening hors d’oeuvres (5:30 pm – 9:00 pm) with soft drinks and water plus access to computer and internet/printer, newspapers and flat screen tv’s. To request access to the executive lounge, please call reservations at 312-565-0565 and request the $146/rate plus an additional fee of $30 to access the executive lounge.
  • The room rates above include complimentary Internet in the sleeping rooms and complimentary access to the health club.

Please call the hotel directly to make a reservation at 312-565-0565 to reserve a room and use the group code "ISACS 2013 Heads of School Conference".  Discounted room rates have been extended and are available until Friday, January 11.  If you would like access to the executive lounge rate ($176), when calling reservations at 312-565-0565, make a reservation at the $146/rate with an additional fee of $30 for the executive lounge access.

Online hotel room booking is available, click here. Please note when booking online that in order to receive the $176 rate, you will need to make the online reservation and then call reservations at the hotel at 312-565-0565 to request the $30 Executive Lounge upgrade.

Please note that any reservation cancelled within 48 hours of arrival date will be charged one night room and tax. 

If you missed the cut off date for the room block, please call the ISACS office at 312-255-1244 and ISACS staff will assist you with getting a hotel room at the Swissotel at the discounted rate.

Directions and Parking

  • Click here for directions and parking information for the Swissôtel.
  • Special daily parking at the Swissôtel is $16 per day for the ISACS Heads of School Conference (Please obtain a voucher from the ISACS registration area to receive the daily discounted parking rate. Special overnight parking rates are $42 per night. If you drive a hybrid car, the Swissotel provides a discount.

 Registration Fee

  • $600 Member
  • $700 Non Member
  • 50% discount for those new heads registered for the New Heads Network. If you are enrolled in the New Heads Network, please call the ISACS office at 312-255-1244 to receive a coupon code before registering for the Head Conference.
  • Registration fee includes Thursday evening dinner, 2 lunches and 2 continental breakfasts.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellations must be received in writing to ISACS, 1165 North Clark Street, Suite 311, Chicago, IL 60610 or, ten business days prior to the Heads Conference to receive a 50% refund. Cancellations received less than 10 days before the event will not receive a refund. 

Check back periodically for updates!

Questions, call the ISACS office at 312-255-1244.

Member Cost: $600     Non-member Cost: $700
Registration Deadline:  January 18, 2013


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