Dean of Faculty Irene Mortensen wears many hats at Gill St. Bernards: 6th grade language arts teacher, 5th and 6th grade STREAMS teacher, Upper School Clay Club advisor, past parent, school administrator, and faculty dean.
This past February, Irene added another impressive credential to her list—that of National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference’s inaugural Leadership Lab workshop leader and NAIS Think Tank member. We sat down with Irene to learn more about this opportunity and how her experience impacts GSB.
What topic did you present and why?
The Leadership Lab was a new component of the 2023 NAIS Annual Conference where attendees engaged in workshops, panel discussions, and conversations to promote leadership skills. In my ninety-minute workshop “What Would You Do? Case Studies for Admin Team Members,” I co-presented with LeRhonda Greats of iChangeCollaborative, and we guided participants to analyze real, challenging case studies with the entire group and in collaborative teams. Attendees also shared scenarios that they were currently managing in their own schools.
Evaluating and trouble-shooting authentic case studies was a welcome exercise for the participants. The workshop allowed for attendees to sharpen their leadership capacities on a range of topics, gain insight from other school leaders, discuss common threads, provide opportunities for collaboration and relation building, network with peers for future support and guidance, and make connections on similar challenges.
What value does the NAIS Annual Conference hold for educators?
Change is continually reshaping our world and our schools. As educators, we need to embrace innovation, while maintaining our mission and the very best of what we do as a school.
As the preeminent professional development and networking event for independent school administrators, teachers, and trustees, participants at the NAIS Annual Conference come together to reflect on contemporary topics, advances, and challenges. Key components of the conference experience include building networks, sharing expertise, and exchanging ideas. Ultimately, educators who attend the NAIS Annual Conference come away invigorated with actionable resources and takeaways that enhance and enrich their individual work and the work of their school communities.
What did it mean to you personally and for GSB as an institution to be part of the NAIS Annual Conference Think Tank and a workshop presenter?
Serving on the NAIS Annual Conference Think Tank represented an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to the advisory and planning for the organization’s most important event.
Visionary experts from schools and associations across the country volunteered hours of their time to the Think Tank, contributing topics and viewpoints and brainstorming and critiquing content in order to build the most collaborative experience for attendees.
I am grateful to have served on the NAIS Think Tank because it afforded me a chance to explore the issues and initiatives of other independent thinkers and independent schools and to be part of the process that designed the conference’s innovative and inspirational programming. By being present and presenting, GSB becomes part of the national conversation, something I believe is essential.