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The Virtual School Board Retreat

  • 01 July 2020
  • (UTC-00:00)
  • 30 June 2021
  • (UTC-00:00)
  • Online

Sustaining a High-Performing Board in Today’s Challenging Times

This event is designed for the board members of one school to work with the facilitator at a time that suits both parties. The facilitator will shape the specific goals, content and the times of the 6 hours of synchronous learning to meet the needs of each school. 

KEY AUDIENCEHead of School and Board Members

The practice of sojourning into "retreat", stepping off the grid for a few moments of focused discourse and discovery on how an international school board will fulfil its governing responsibilities is essential for a number of reasons. Not only does it fulfil the accreditation mandate for professional development of the board itself, but a carefully designed retreat also promotes the sense of team within the Board and partnership with the Head of School. A carefully planned retreat will also enable the Board to identify specific governance goals and determine the direction for the year ahead.

As a result of attending this institute, school board teams can potentially expect to:

  • Understand each other’s concept of what it means to be a Board member and what their expectations of the Board are.
  • Grow as a team: understanding each other's perspective and expectations, committing to effective team characteristics, and producing results while maintaining working capacity.
  • Recognize the importance of clear, consistent, carefully crafted foundational statements that define the character of the school and guide decision making, from the boardroom to the classroom.
  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of the board, individual board members, and the Director with particular attention to handling challenging issues: as prescribed in the school's foundational documents, as informed by best practices in International Schools, and as appropriate for their own preferred school culture.
  • Recognize the value of all three modes of governance; fiduciary, strategic, and generative and determine how to be a "Strategic Board".
  • Review the current Strategic Plan, consider alternatives in the Strategic Planning process, and determine a framework for updating/renewing the school's Strategic Plan.
  • Clarify its responsibility for "accountability" by reviewing strategies that sustain a culture of accountability.
  • Review research-based practices of high-performing Boards and determine its own rubric for being a highly effective Board.


Rick Detwiler
Rick is the former head of school of five international schools, now consults with international school Boards of Trustees on governance, policy review/revision, and strategic planning. Since shifting focus from the headship to governance in 2009, Rick has focused his work with Boards of Trustees from over 50 international schools, including a dozen AISA schools, on the concepts and strategies cited in the NAIS International Trustees Handbook, 2nd Edition, 2019, which he co-authored with David Chojnacki. Most recently, Rick and David have developed the AAIE-sponsored “Leading-Together” project, focused on empowering board chairs and heads of schools to work effectively with their boards.

Rick’s particular interest in board development lies in developing school board training experiences that are action-driven and individualized for the specific needs of the client school.

Born and raised in upstate New York, Rick earned his BA degree from Dartmouth College, MA from Tufts University, and CAGS from the University of Vermont. Prior to his career as an educator, Rick served as a Naval officer, including two tours in Vietnam, an experience that ironically, launched him on his international career. After the Navy, Rick joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer, teaching high school science in Botswana, following which he returned to Vermont for ten years as a teacher and principal.

Rick now lives back in Vermont with his wife of 48 years, Sandi, a retired ESL teacher, and they have three grown children, all educated at international schools.

Teresa Arpin
Dr. Teresa Arpin is the President of Transformation Systems, working with educational organizations both nationally and internationally since 1996. She has worked extensively with boards of trustees, in the area of governance. She has also conducted leadership development programs, facilitated strategic planning processes and helped schools measure the impact of their strategic plans. Dr. Arpin has worked with international schools and regional organizations for almost 30 years.

Her work has included facilitating strategic planning processes for five international regional education associations, which include AISA, AASSA, CEESA, EARCOS and NESA. She has collaborated with the NESA Board for many years in the evolution of a strategic planning protocol that is now being modeled in several international schools and regional associations.

Dr. Arpin earned a Bachelor of Philosophy from Thomas Jefferson College and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Michigan State University. Her doctorate is in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University. She is also certified by Newfield Network, an international program for the development of ontological coaches.

David Chojnacki
David Chojnacki (pronounced “hoy-NOT-ski”) has had a lifetime of engagement in and leadership of and networking with independent schools around the world. His headships include stints at the International School of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (1981-1984); Karachi American School (1984-1988); The American Embassy School in New Delhi (1988-1992); and Cairo American College (1992-1996).

In 1996, Mr. Chojnacki was appointed Executive Director of NESA, leading the organization to international prominence and serving the member schools in numerous ways, especially providing valued services in networking, professional development, and executive coaching of school leaders, serving for 21 years in that capacity until his retirement in 2017.

Editor of the international version of the NAIS Trustee Handbook, he is currently engaged in school board training and also serves as a senior consultant with Carney Sandoe & Associates.

The virtual board retreat will be a six-hour interactive workshop (with the specific times agreed with the facilitator) and includes follow-up consultation at US$ 2,500 per school.

If your school board would like to take part in the retreat, please contact either Rick Detwiler ,Teresa Arpin or David Chojnacki to discuss organising this event for your school at a date and time that suit you.

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