School Leaders: How to Keep Your Unicorn Engaged | Niki Conraths | 3 Min Read

August 23, 2022

Organizations love to secure one or two unicorns in their midst. Schools are no different. Unicorns are the teachers or staff members that are described as “visionary” or “out-of-the-box thinkers”. You don’t have to search for long to identify the unicorns in your school—most everyone you ask about visionary thinking will spit out the same two names without hesitation. 

Unicorns make “dreams become reality” as the paper plate my supervisor made for me at the end of last year stated. There it was, written down with a black sharpie, decorated with sparkles. 

Blessing or curse, to be such a unicorn? 

It’s a fine line and those of us in leadership positions need to keep our unicorns a little supported and protected. For many years things were wonderful. I loved working in a community that appreciated new ideas and colleagues that were willing to take on more projects for fun. Out-of-the-box programming, collaboration, and interdisciplinary curriculum development are a lot of work.  And yet, when I was teaching in the arts, my “unicorning” was what fueled me and gave me the energy to get everything else done as well. There was a measurable benefit too. New programs…

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Nicola Conraths

Nicola Conraths has worked in independent schools for 15 years, serving as Director of Artistic Studies at Walnut Hill School for the Arts and as director of Comparative Arts and dance instructor at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Nicola merges her many interests into projects that connect unlikely topics, people, and places. Recently she has worked with New England Conservatory Prep School, Boston Ballet, YOLA/LA Phil, and SMOC/Headstart schools. Her newest venture, Das Surrealistische Büro, is a consulting capsule for tangential thinking. She lives in Detroit.