top of page

Workshops for Boards and Founders

The workshops below are designed for boards or founding groups. The sessions are designed to help participants understand the challenging work of starting and overseeing the work of the school while avoiding the trap of becoming operational or interventionist. Special attention is paid to the relationship between the board and school leader (head of school or principal).

Founding a School

School Start Discernment (4 Sessions)

Do you want to start a classical school but feel unsure of where to begin? Would you like to know where the landmines are before you cross the field in front of you? These sessions will provide founders or potential founders with a clear-eyed approach to the entrepreneurial tasks involved in starting a school. This day-long workshop includes a template for discerning if and when you are ready to launch, a process for strategic planning and rolling out your new school, and factors to consider in budgeting and funding that will impact the quality and viability of your launch. The workshop includes some strategic planning under the direction of the workshop leader.

Writing a Mission Statement (2 Sessions)

Crafting a mission statement is an important moment in the life of a school. This is most often composed at the time of the school's founding, but it is not a simple process. Your school's mission statement should be a guiding star for all other facets of the life of the school. These sessions will help a new or founding board understand the purpose of a mission statement and being drafting a statement that will serve the needs of the school.

Finding a School Leader (2 Sessions)

The first responsibility of a classical school board is to find a school leader in whom you have the utmost confidence. The classical school leader must be far more than a manager, fundraiser, or cheerleader. He or she will be the face of the school and the principle point of unity in the execution of the mission in keeping with its founding principles. These two sessions will help founding boards, boards looking for a fresh start, or boards simply involved in the process of replacing a head of school or principal. The workshop will include a presentation of best practices and available resources, a template for interviewing, thoughts on internal vs. external candidates, and key questions to address to a potential school leader.

The Board and the School Leader (2 Sessions)


Second only to finding a school leader, the responsibility of a school board is to properly support that school leader in the execution of the mission and oversee his or her work to that end. These two sessions will cover general best practices in board oversight of a school leader, practical tips on supporting the leader, how to set proper benchmarks for performance, and what to do when a school leader struggles.

Making the Transition from Founding Board to Governing Board (2 Sessions)

Do you find yourself worrying whether the school you have founded will stay on the trajectory you worked so hard to set for it? Wondering how deeply the administration, faculty, and staff understand the mission? Tempted to intervene with course corrections? The transition into the role of governance can be challenging for founding board members. These sessions will help the board understand the real value of the transition, the risks of early board interference, and the downsides of an "operational board." At the same time, the board’s role in protecting the mission remains critical. The sessions will also include a full review of appropriate levels of board oversight, mechanisms for overseeing the school leader, and answers to the question of what to do if the board sees mission drift.

The First Twenty Years: A Phased Approach

Schools, like children, have developmental stages through which they pass. And just like children, every school's journey to maturity is unique but shares some common features. Each set of sessions below describes a phase most schools go through in their first fifteen to twenty years. Anticipating these changes and guiding the school leader and school community through them is one of the more important roles a seasoned board can serve.

The Adrenaline Years (2 Sessions)

These are labeled "the adrenaline years" ... because that is what everyone will

be running on. It's a time of intense excitement, maximum buy-in, enthusiasm for the mission, and tremendous sacrifice. Sessions will address questions such as: What does it take to get a new set of faculty, staff, parents, students, and others on the same page? What challenges can you anticipate? What minefields will you have to navigate? How do you confidently articulate your mission while people are still learning it? How can you grow to meet your strategic plan? How will you respond to your first major failures?


The Stabilizing Years (2 Sessions)

 These years look a little different. Everything slows down. You have some faculty who have been through the courses for a while. You may have some graduates and alumni. It seems like your new start has made it and become a "real school." Sessions will address questions such as: How do you deal with fracture lines that emerge in the mission, vision, or practices of the school? What challenges can you anticipate that are different from the challenges of a new school? How do you deal with high-profile losses of founding families or teachers? What do you do if enrollment "stalls"? What adjustments to curriculum, pedagogy, or operations are often made and how are they done without compromising the mission?

The Second Start (2 Sessions)

 During these years, the school is likely to move into yet another phase of its existence. Some teachers who were there at the beginning may begin to retire. You are statistically likely to have a turnover in leadership. The freshness will have worn off and you may experience some parent activism. These sessions will address questions such as: Where do you get new families to replace the founding families who depart? How do you replace a departing school leader? What is the difference between the feel of a first and second-generation board, faculty, staff, etc? How do you begin to build alumni relations? How do you keep things fresh while at the same time appreciating a greater rootedness?

The "Knew Not Joseph" Years (2 Sessions)

The opening of the book of Exodus records that at some point, a Pharoh arose in Egypt that "knew not Joseph." Once your school is fifteen years old, you may have more families who did not experience the founding of the school than were there from the beginning. Many will have come to you not as ready partners in the mission, but as consumers who have comparison shopped and want product delivery. You may even be the victim of your own success. High SAT scores, a reputation for a sound moral culture, college and university success, or even an excellent sports program may draw parents who aren't directly attracted to your core educational vision. These sessions will address questions such as: How do you keep a start-up mentality in a well-established school? How do you bring new parents into the community effectively? How do you tell your "origin story" so that it is compelling and winsome? How do you address the challenge of the consumer parent? How do you resist pressure to change what is essential while still being flexible to improve?

bottom of page