Happy Endings: another NAIS Annual Conference, a chance to meet new people -- including a number of folks in the Aspiring Heads fellowship, an opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces and ongoing acquaintances, a learning opportunity in many sessions, a chance to see a unique community on the harbor across the bridge from Washington, D.C. Also happy: looking forward to the next NAIS Annual Conference I can attend, even if it's not next year's in Seattle. Though the quality of the overall conference can vary from year to year, I find the connections, reconnections, and session attendance very stimulative and often generative. It rejuvenates me, serving as a remind of why I love independent education.
Sad Endings: speaking with two people from two very different schools, both of which are closing at the end of this school year. At one, the entire administration has been let go already, as the school doesn't have the funds to pay them for the remainder of the year. What is more, the bondholders (the school had debt, which is no surprise to readers of my posts on debt issues) want the property sooner rather than later, so the school has had to accelerate its academic calendar in order to graduate the students before the bondholders take over the property. At the other, the decision to close was announced in recent weeks, and they are in closing mode, which will take the next six months or so. It is difficult to imagine the emotional drain on a leader who, with the board, must shut down operations, place students in other schools, and assist faculty and staff with job searches, etc. The silver lining, perhaps, is that the pain resulting from closure has an end-point in sight; at other schools that are struggling to stay afloat -- usually due in part or exclusively due to debt issues, the pain will continue in the form of more rounds of downsizing, reduction or elimination of benefits, salary reductions, and the like. Death by a thousand cuts; a kind of torture that prolongs the feelings of wounded-ness rather than provide for well-being and sobriety.