Ode to CIOs: One Answer to Head of School Shortages | Denise Musselwhite | 6 Min Read

April 28, 2023

As an experienced independent school technology leader and strategist, and the current board chair of the Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools (ATLIS), I have observed a troubling trend in independent schools. A revolving door of school heads is eroding the stability and culture that define these institutions.

Independent schools are a community that seeks to catalyze change in the ways we learn. We’re a “sandbox” for innovative practices in pedagogy, curriculum development, and 21st-century assessment. And it’s crucial that we elevate leadership that deeply understand these issues in our succession planning and for the future of our institutions. 

In my frequent talks on the “indy school” speaking circuit, I often reference the pandemic and everything that has happened since as “VUCA,” which stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The challenges we faced during COVID-19 shook the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality right out of our schools at a pace that resembled a fierce agent for change and for questioning the status quo. 

Despite the pandemic’s extreme difficulties for schools responding to unprecedented needs, it was exhilarating, enlightening, and one of the single most productive and collaborative times in my…

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