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Insurance Offerings for Independent Schools

MISBO offers a number of options for your school’s insurance needs. Explore some of the member school savings possible by working with the following MISBO vendors.

  • As you all know there is a great deal of uncertainty today about the future of the Affordable Care Act. Several years ago MISBO evaluated many options in an attempt to provide a medical insurance plan for our member schools. Ultimately, we determined that we would promote a plan already in place with a great track record – ISBC (Independent School Benefits Consortium). Click here for more information about the program or here for more information from ISBC.
  • MISBO also offers a unique program for your school’s property and casualty needs. We know that the risks facing your schools have become increasingly complex which is why we chose to work with EIS (Education Insurance Services) which is part of UE (United Educators). UE is the only carrier which serves educational institutions and we believe they are best suited to serve your needs. Please click here for more information.
  • A newer MISBO offering is our International Student Accident and Sickness Plan offered by ISM Insurance. This MISBO program already has almost 30 MISBO member schools participating. Click here for more information on this program.
  • Finally, MISBO has a long-standing relationship with CorpCare, which offers an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). Now is a great time to consider adding an EAP to your benefit offerings. Please click here for more information.

From the ED 3.2.17

Dear Colleagues,

As with most of your schools, the success of the organization depends upon a board of directors (trustees) to lead and govern the organization. The board for a non-profit has some key responsibilities:

  • Focus on the strategic direction of the organization, reviewing the mission and vision to ensure the organization continues to move forward in the appropriate direction.
  • Hire and support the leader (executive director, head of school, etc.). MISBO has recently been through the hiring process and I am certainly confident in the support piece.
  • Overall fiduciary responsibility.

A number of years ago MISBO revised its bylaws to be more consistent with its mission to serve independent schools and a part of that was opening board participation to a much wider group of leaders. The current board includes business officers, heads of schools, human resources professionals, technology leaders, and facilities leaders. We also strive to ensure geographic, school size and type, gender, and ethnic diversity. A year ago, the MISBO board determined that adding an independent school association executive would bring great value as well. We accomplished that goal by asking Damian Kavanagh, VP, Accreditation & Membership, SAIS to join the board. Damian was such a great addition that the search committee ultimately offered Damian the Executive Director position beginning July 1, 2017. Beginning next week, MISBO will again be interested in nominations for open positions beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. You may self-nominate or be nominated by a colleague.

MISBO is hoping to receive nominations which include: independent school association executives, technology leaders, operations leaders, and heads of schools. The board’s governance committee will start receiving nominations, spend the next couple of months interviewing candidates, and present a recommended slate of candidates to the full board at the scheduled April board meeting.

We encourage anyone who is interested and wishes to serve to read all about the process and requirements when they are released next week. Please be sure to contact me or any of the current MISBO board members if you have questions.

I was so fortunate to spend a day last week with the team at IDEO in their San Francisco offices to plan the first convening (workshop) for the 12 cohort schools that are participating in the MISBO + IDEO project. Click here to learn more and see which schools are part of this ground-breaking work.

At one point we moved to a brainstorming session about the business model for independent schools (the premise for this work) and in addition to the five IDEO team members, three additional business designers joined the session. We discussed the fact that “business design” is not something that can be learned in school. Many of us in the room have MBAs but no one had learned business design in school, yet this is a critical element for business innovation and growth. I encourage you to read this short article about business designers. Here is a brief description from IDEO:

But fewer know about business design, a discipline at IDEO that has formed over the past decade. There are a few dozen of us across the company, and our role is to balance the needs of users with the needs of our clients. In IDEO’s Venn diagram, innovative solutions hit the sweet spot where viability, desirability, and feasibility overlap. Business designers, to put it simply, design for viability.

This article – How Can Design Advance Education? – will provide you with one example of the power of business design. Look for more information and stories after our first workshop this Saturday.

I also hope you will join me, the MISBO board leadership, and incoming Executive Director Damian Kavanagh for the MISBO Forum on Wednesday, March 8th at 2:00 pm ET. This is an online “state of the association” meeting and registration is required. Please plan on joining us by registering at

The next MISBO On the Road will be held at St. Catherine’s School, Richmond, VA on Tuesday, March 14th starting at 10:00 am. The speaker for the day is Aaron Lundberg, Praesidium. You can find more information and registration by clicking here. Our next On the Road will be in Tampa, FL on April 25th – all the details can be found at MISBO On the Road events are open to both member and non-member schools.

We recently opened registration for the 2017 MISBO Human Resources Intensive and you can see the full schedule and register at MISBO last offered this program in 2015 and we sold out, and we expect the same for 2017. This is a unique program focused specifically on the needs of human resources professionals in independent schools. The sessions are presented by a mix of your colleagues and industry experts as well as a keynote presentation by Dr. Marc Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a Senior Research Scientist in Psychology at Yale University. This will be an exciting, interactive session. I hope to see you in Atlanta, June 11-13, 2017 for this event.


Marc Levinson
Executive Director, MISBO

We power independent schools.™

From the ED 2.2.17

Dear Colleagues,

Happy Groundhog Day!

I read this article in Time Magazine last week and wanted to share with you the story of the wise man, which you can read here. My hope for all of our schools is that we have schools where the “king” or leaders are loving and kind and where the wise man cannot find a ”truly bad person”. I realize that this is optimistic, but I do believe that with the missions of most of our schools including some language about character development – a unique attribute of independent schools – that during this time (or any time) of uncertainty we focus on our mission and look for the good, the loving, the kindness of everyone around us. I ask that you read this article without any political thinking, but only because it speaks to the value of being empathetic, caring, and loving – all attributes of the kind of leader our schools need.

Last week, Debra Wilson, General Counsel, NAIS and Whitney Silverman, Staff Attorney, NAIS published two papers which I believe are important for all independent school leaders to read detailing their research on potential issues facing independent schools with the new administration. From Debra Wilson: “NAIS produced articles outlining the ways the Trump Administration is likely to affect independent schools. They have encouraged us to share the information with you to help you understand the potential changes ahead. NAIS members may access the resources directly by logging into the NAIS website. If you are not a member of NAIS, please email to receive a copy of “The Trump Administration and Independent Schools.” A list of additional information published on this topic and other federal legislation and regulations being monitored by NAIS’s Legal and Government Relations Team can be viewed here.

Here are some of the key points that Debra and Whitney present for us to consider:

  1. Affordable Care Act – the goal of the new administration is to repeal and replace ACA. The employer mandate is a topic of discussion and may be removed. This mandate required employers with over 50 employees to provide health care. At this time there is no clear plan or timeline for repeal or replacement, so we will be watching closely.
  2. Labor Actions – as most of you know the new FLSA provision increasing the threshold for exempt status from $23,360 to $47,476 planned for December 1, 2016 was put on hold by a Texas court. At the moment this does not appear to be a priority for the new administration – no further actions have been taken and little has been discussed. Again, this is a watch and wait situation.
  3. Tax and Charitable Giving – the new administration is exploring changes to the tax codes which will likely decrease tax rates at the higher levels. Many itemized deductions are expected to be eliminated. However, mortgage interest deductions and charitable giving deductions appear to be safe for the time being. This could help all non-profits by providing a potential boost to giving.
  4. Education Policy – the nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is proving to be controversial and at this time has not been approved. “DeVos has a background in charter schools and vouchers, complementing Trump’s sweeping statements on the campaign trail about huge increases in funding for vouchers. As these programs are administered at the state level, any voucher program will likely be a state or local grant. Thus, the impact on independent schools is likely to be local rather than national. Vouchers could also support charter schools. Legislators will need to identify a source of funding for a voucher initiative, which will take some budget wrangling. Vouchers will also compete with other education policy issues for priority.”
  5. Immigration Policy – it is possible that increased scrutiny on immigration will have a negative impact on independent schools’ enrollment of international students. The availability of F-1 visas may become more difficult to obtain. This could impact employment of international candidates as well.

These are just some of the possible impacts. As you can see the real impacts are uncertain until more time has passed and actions are taken by the new administration. I urge you all to stay well informed.

Today is the first day to participate in the School Retool  Shadow a Student Challenge. You can still sign up and participate. Please note that the preferred window to participate is February 2nd – 17th, however you can still participate after that time if it is more convenient. School Retool is asking that participants sign up as soon as possible. We hope that a large number of MISBO school leaders will participate and we want to encourage business officers, human resources directors, technology directors, facilities director, as well and heads of school and all school leaders to take this challenge. At the 2017 MISBO Fall Conference we will offer a workshop led by Devon Young at School Retool including “storytelling” for those that participated in the challenge as well as all others that wish to learn about this amazing experience. Preliminary information about the conference can be found here with more details coming soon.

Next, I ask you to please mark your calendars for March 8th at 2:00 pm ET for “The MISBO Forum”. With no annual meeting in the fall of 2016 due to our cancelled fall conference, we still want the opportunity to update membership on the state of the association. This will also be an opportunity to hear from our incoming Executive Director, Damian Kavanagh. This will be a virtual meeting and more details will be provided soon. Please save the date!

The next MISBO On The Road will be held at St. Catherine’s School, Richmond, VA on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 starting at 10:00 am. The speaker for the day is Aaron Lundberg from Praesidium. You can find more information and registration by clicking here. This event is very limited on space, so I encourage you to register ASAP!

We just opened registration for the 2017 MISBO Human Resources Intensive and you can see the full schedule and register here. MISBO last offered this program in 2015 for a sold out group and we expect the same for 2017. This is a unique program focused specifically on the needs of human resources professionals in independent schools. The sessions are presented by a mix of your colleagues and industry experts, as well as a keynote presentation by Dr. Marc Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a Senior Research Scientist in Psychology at Yale University. This will be an exciting, interactive session. I hope to see you in Atlanta June 11-13, 2017 for this event.

A final thought – last week I had the opportunity to visit Galloway School and I spent time with Head of School Suzanna Jemsby. We were discussing a variety of important issues facing independent schools, including the impending challenge our schools will face recruiting the next generation of leaders, especially women leaders and educators of color. Galloway School is offering an opportunity for ”passionate educators of color who are looking to grow in their careers and make an impact on education through leadership in an independent school.” The BOLD Summit will be held in Atlanta July 17-20, 2017. I would encourage any of you considering leadership to look at this opportunity. More information can be found here.


Marc Levinson
Executive Director, MISBO

We power independent schools.™

From the ED 1.5.17

Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017!

MISBO celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2016. It was a year of change, discovery, and growth for MISBO. We look forward to serving all of our current 340 member schools now in 17 states across the U.S. in 2017. This year will bring some exciting changes and new initiatives for MISBO. If you missed the announcement from the MISBO Board of Directors about the appointment of the next Executive Director, Damian Kavanagh, currently VP for Accreditation and Membership, SAIS you can find more information in this blog post. Damian will assume his responsibilities on July 1, 2017. I will continue to work with Damian, the board, and the MISBO staff through the 2017 MISBO Fall Conference to be held in New Orleans, LA, October 4-6, 2017. I am excited to have a good friend and colleague taking over the leadership of MISBO and I am confident that Damian will be a great leader for the association.

A significant initiative which you have heard about is the MISBO + IDEO Project which kicks off with full force now, in early 2017. I recently had the opportunity to be in San Francisco and spend time with the IDEO team at their offices. Please read more about this amazing project here. The 12 cohort schools and their participation are just the beginning of the journey and the exploration into new thinking about the business model for independent schools. This will be shared first with those attending the 2017 MISBO Fall Conference and then with the wider independent school community. One portion of the Fall Conference will be a workshop facilitated by IDEO team members and cohort school leaders and it will be open to all attendees. This is the “story-telling” portion of the project.

In conjunction with this, MISBO will be announcing our participation with School Retool and their Shadow a Student Challenge. We hope that a large number of MISBO school leaders will participate and we want to encourage business officers, human resources directors, technology directors, facilities directors, as well as heads of school and all other school leaders to accept this challenge. As you probably know by now, I strongly believe that all school leaders are educators and need to learn about education to be successful in their roles at their schools – regardless of the role. Understanding (being empathetic) to the experience of a student in your school will help you be a better educator and help you better serve your school and its students.

At the 2017 Fall Conference we will offer a workshop and “story-telling” for those that participate in the Shadow a Student Challenge as well as all others that wish to learn about this amazing experience.  More information and details for the 2017 MISBO Fall Conference will be available soon.

MISBO is offering two additional unique live learning opportunities in 2017. First is the 2017 MISBO Facilities Conference, Managing an Evolving Campus, to be held at Harding Academy, Nashville, TN January 29-30, 2017. This event is SOLD OUT, but if you are interested, we are accepting registrations for a wait list.

Another unique event for independent school human resources professionals is the 2017 MISBO Human Resources Intensive to be held at Woodward Academy, Atlanta, GA, June 11-13, 2017. We are putting the finishing touches on the details for this program; details will soon be on our website and registration will open by mid-January. We offered this program in 2015 and it sold out quickly.  We expect the same response again for 2017, so I encourage you to register as soon as possible if you are interested in attending this event.

I hope that you have had a chance for some necessary rest and rejuvenation. The changing of the calendar is a time to reflect on the prior year and plan for the new year. There is significant anxiety in our country as we start 2017. I am confident that we will find the appropriate and positive solutions to the challenges facing our schools and our country as we move forward into the new year. MISBO is here to help – for 40 years MISBO has existed to serve independent schools. The staff and board of MISBO take our tagline seriously – We Power Independent Schools. Please be sure to reach out to any of us at any time so we can help you and your schools. You can find a full staff listing here and the current board members here.


Marc Levinson
Executive Director, MISBO

We power independent schools.™

Excited to Kick off the MISBO + IDEO Project!

Dear Colleagues,

IDEO San Francisco

IDEO San Francisco

As you know, MISBO has embarked upon an innovative project with IDEO and 12 cohort schools. I had the opportunity earlier this month to visit with two of the cohort schools in California: The Nueva School and Hillbrook School. Additionally, I spent the morning with Annette and Becky at IDEO at their offices in San Francisco. IDEO is a unique organization which is focused on helping other organizations through their human-centered design approach. So, it was not surprising to find that their work space and location are innovative and inviting. The offices are in Pier 28, on the Embarcadero, literally right under the Bay Bridge. Walking in the door one is struck by the openness of the space and that the flooring remains the original wooden pier flooring and in fact one can hear the water moving below the floor. I was told at time water may actually ‘splash’ through the wooden planks.

IDEO San Francisco

IDEO San Francisco

As I was given a tour of the space and more importantly a tour of the history, culture and philosophy of IDEO, it was clear to me why IDEO is the leader in their field. The space is designed to accommodate the innovative work that is being accomplished. After visiting with two innovative schools the prior day, which both have focused on creating flexible learning environments combining indoor/outdoor learning spaces, I understood that IDEO was committed to creating a very similar environment for their teams to succeed. Much of what we are currently learning about space design for schools was being demonstrated in IDEO; large open spaces that promote collaboration with a wide number of teammates is the core of the space. Significant amounts of natural light help make the space open and comfortable. The most attractive space (which in a traditional organization would be reserved for the executives) is actually a central meeting/gathering space overlooking the bay. I was introduced to “home plate” – yes, there is a home plate attached to the floor – which serves many purposes. The most obvious is the waiting area for the three restrooms which accommodate nearly 200 (or more) people; at home plate one can look in three directions and notice either a red light or a green light indicating whether a restroom is available. The more important significance of home plate is as a meeting/gathering space. Becky told me about having her first meeting with IDEO CEO Tim Brown at home plate. It is a perfect place for people to meet others who they may not know well or work with on a regular basis.

I believe that one of the most important spaces is just as one walks into the building. On the wall are a number of very short (2-4 word) philosophies that are guiding principles for IDEO. We discussed the importance of a number of these. Collaborate – a word and a skill that we discuss for our students and the adults at our schools. For IDEO, this may be the most important attribute. This organization is successful because of the focus on “we” as opposed to “I”. Embrace Ambiguity – this one felt particularly important in relation to this project. For both MISBO and IDEO this project is filled with ambiguity. It is a grand experiment with high hopes and aspirations. We truly hope that with the help of the 12 cohort schools we can change the landscape for all independent schools. Learn From Failure – another key component of what we are teaching our schools and our students. This is embraced and built into the culture of IDEO and I believe has been instrumental in their success. Our work with IDEO is apt to generate some failures, which will allow us to learn and improve as we move forward. Make Others Successful – clearly this is linked to “Collaborate” but explicitly challenges IDEO team members to think beyond themselves. It can be related to other team members as well as the clients they serve. As a leader of an organization, this has been an important driver for my thinking and approach to leadership. The leader of an organization is often recognized for the successes of the organization. I know (as do most leaders) that these successes are always a team effort. For MISBO, this means the efforts of every member of the staff, the board, as well as our member schools. During my visit at IDEO I could not help thinking that the students at our schools are the ones that will thrive in the type of environment that IDEO has created and nurtured. As I have said over and over, independent schools are poised to be leaders in the changes required in education to ensure our children have the skills, tools, and experience required to be successful in a rapidly changing and at times unpredictable world.

Spending this time with Annette and Becky at IDEO reinforced my belief that MISBO and our schools are extremely fortunate to be able to work with this organization and team of thoughtful, caring, and committed people to help our schools succeed.


Marc Levinson
Executive Director, MISBO

We power independent schools.™

Essential Elements to Successful Music Suites

The information below is provided by MISBO Vendor Wenger Corporation:

Essential Elements to Successful Music Suites
wenger-hart-hs-162Acoustics must be the first consideration in a school music suite, because music is learned by critical listening. Musicians must be able to hear even the smallest variations in pitch, dynamics, tone color, articulation and balance.

Adequate cubic volume in the rehearsal room is crucial. Without it, the sound will overwhelm the room and likely endanger hearing. Ceilings should be 18-22 feet high, with a minimum of 1,800 square feet of floor space for choir and 2,500 for band/orchestra. Unlike poured concrete steps, portable risers do not reduce a room’s total cubic volume. A flat floor in the rehearsal room also offers more flexibility for other activities.

planningguide-11_room-adjacenciesProper sound isolation ensures that music rooms are acoustically separated from each other, and from the rest of the school. Classic mistakes include locating the music area next to the industrial area or gym, or building two rehearsal rooms sharing a common wall.

Acoustical treatments on the rehearsal room walls help control excessive loudness, while evenly distributing sound throughout the space. Carpet is not a good sound absorber – it does not absorb all sounds equally and can distort a group’s true sound.

The floor plan and traffic flow in the music area impact the effectiveness of the space, increasing available time for learning and minimizing congestion. When you factor in the instruments, chairs, music stands, aisles and storage space, each band/orchestra student requires 30-35 square feet of floor space – twice the requirement of a non-music classroom.

hart-hs-239Music-related equipment – including instruments, uniforms and sheet music – represents more than a $300,000 investment at a typical high school. To protect these investments, specialized storage areas and compartments are necessary.

Addressing all these issues early in the planning process will help orchestrate beautiful results.

Click here to read a more detailed article on ‘Planning Music Suites” by Denny Meyer.


Denny Meyer is acoustics project manager with the Wenger Corp. (, a manufacturer of specialized equipment and furniture for music education and the performing arts. Wenger’s free 50-page planning guide for secondary music facilities offers worksheets, guidelines and a list of other resources. To request a copy, contact Denny at

An Announcement from the MISBO Board of Directors

The MISBO Board of Directors is thrilled to share some wonderful news!

Damian KavanaghThanks to the outstanding and tireless work of our MISBO Executive Director Search Committee and after an intensive process of talent identification, careful discussion, and thoughtful review, we are excited to announce Damian Kavanagh as the next Executive Director of MISBO beginning July 1, 2017.

Damian comes to MISBO with over 20 years of independent school industry experience, with an excellent reputation in association work, governance, strategic thinking, professional development, and facilitation of school leaders’ discussion of school development and improvement programs. He is experienced with school and program leadership, staff management, financial and budget management, and business operations. Many of Damian’s years in independent education were spent at The Westminster Schools of Atlanta, a nationally recognized school with deep roots in the independent school community – and the birthplace of MISBO.

Damian is currently the Vice President for Accreditation and Membership with SAIS. In that capacity, he has served schools of every size and every level of complexity, boarding and day schools, faith-based and secular schools, some more innovative and some more traditional, and many located in the states MISBO serves today.

His association experience is impressive, including deep work with membership development, independent school professional development, and conference and meeting planning. Damian has presented and facilitated over 250 workshops to every level of independent school leadership in addition to universities and independent school associations. He is known for his organizational skills, accuracy, hard work, and results.

Damian will begin his service as the MISBO Executive Director effective July 1, 2017. Please mark your calendars for October 4-6, 2017 to join us at our 2017 Fall Conference where you will meet Damian and we will also celebrate the impactful leadership of Marc Levinson, whose vision and excellence has elevated and honored the legacy of MISBO‘s 40 years serving independent schools.

Thanks to the search committee’s efforts, the MISBO Board is confident that Damian Kavanagh is an ideal fit to fulfill the strategic vision for MISBO as the next Executive Director. We have no doubt that he will “connect independent school professionals and deliver exceptional value to enrich learning”.

We power independent schools!


The MISBO Board of Directors

Julie RayMISBO Board Chair, Executive Director Search Committee Co-Chair;
CFO, Mount Paran Christian School, Kennesaw, GA
Philip CorkMISBO Board Vice-Chair; Associate Headmaster for Finance,
Saint Andrew’s School, Boca Raton, FL
Chip Broadway, Executive Director Search Committee Co-Chair; VP and Treasurer,
Episcopal Church Schools in the Diocese of Virginia, Richmond, VA