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NESA Fall Leadership Conference 2019

David Chojnacki, Rick Detwiler & Teresa Arpin

Consultant, Governance & School Board Training

NESA Governance Initiative

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.

Consultant on Governance & Boardmanship

NESA Governance Initiative

RICK DETWILER has worked with school boards as head of five international schools over the past 25 years, including three NESA schools. Born and raised in upstate New York, Mr Detwiler earned his BA at Dartmouth followed by graduate work at Tufts and the University of Vermont.

Mr Detwiler will also facilitate a Preconference: "Fundamentals of Trusteeship in an International School" (for new trustees), Wednesday, October 23.


Before joining the international school community in 1988, he was a Naval officer, a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, and for ten years, a teacher and principal in Vermont.

Mr Detwiler is married to his wife of 47 years, Sandi, a retired ESL teacher, and they have three grown children, all educated at international schools, and one of whom teaches at the American School of Doha.

Currently, Mr Detwiler is working with NESA on its Governance Initiative, in conjunction with his work conducting board training and strategic planning workshops for international schools throughout the world.

His 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.


Transformation Systems

TERESA ARPIN is the President of Transformation Systems, working with educational organizations both nationally and internationally since 1996. She specializes in leadership development, governance, strategic planning and organizational transformation.


Dr Arpin has worked with boards of trustees, schools and school districts large and small across the US and internationally, including China, Poland, France, Czech Republic, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Russia, Japan, Singapore, Turkey, and the UAE.

She has collaborated with the NESA Board for many years in the evolution of a strategic planning approach that is now being modeled in several international schools and other regional associations.

Dr Arpin is the 2013 recipient of NESA’s Finis Engleman Award, the organization’s highest honor, recognizing “outstanding dedication and service to schools in the NESA region”. She is also certified by Newfield Network, an international program for the development of ontological coaches.

3-Day Governance Initiative Institute

Board Trustee Development


This workshop is the culmination of NESA's multi-year, iterative effort to build a governance curriculum for private, independent international schools. The result of a collaborative effort among school heads, board trustees and critical friends, the NESA Governance Curriculum is grounded in industry-standard research from BoardSource and the principles of good practice of the National Association of Independent Schools. It is also reflective of the standards of governance of many accreditation agencies.

Participants will learn how victim trauma impacts Designed for both school trustees and heads, this workshop will consist of six 90-minute sessions spread over three consecutive days. Each of the first five sessions will focus on one or two essential questions about governance and will consist of presentations as well as group work with a two-fold aim:

• to present research-based information; and
• to share "proven practices" along with practical group process skills.

The last session will be an "unconference," focused on topics identified by participants for further discussion.

Participants in all six sessions will leave understanding the essentials of trusteeship, equipped to improve governance at their schools and network with colleagues from across the region.

There are a number of sources for this presentation: the NESA Governance Curriculum; research/information from “BoardSource”; the work of Richard Chait, et al, on modes of governance; and the international version of the NAIS Trustee Handbook. The process skills come from multiple sources.

“Real life lessons” will be presented via presentations from exemplar schools (e.g. how NESA schools have handled various of crises/governance problems).

Please bring your laptop/tablet to this workshop.

Target Audience:

School board trustees and school heads

Continuum Levels:

2, 3

Learn more about how NESA plans Professional Learning
NESA'S Learning Continuum:

Thursday, October 24

Session 1

Essential Question:

How does the board perform the roles and fulfill the responsibilities of both governance and leadership?

Enduring understandings:

• The separate roles and areas of responsibility between the board and the head.
• The main focus of the board must be on the future, not the here and now.
• The distinction between board approved policy and administrative developed procedure.
• The process of developing and insuring both currency and adherence to mission-aligned policies.

Session 2

Essential Question

How does the board meet its fiduciary responsibilities and serve as a good steward?

Enduring understandings:

• What it means to be a “fiduciary”.
• Developing routines to regularize fiduciary oversight & risk management.
• Effective practices for handling crises: lessons learned from the field.

Friday, October 25

Session 1

Essential Question

How does the board build and sustain its own membership?

Enduring understandings:

• There are different models of boards/governance in int’l schools.
• Effective trustee recruitment and retention requires deliberate planning.
• Professional learning for and evaluation of the board must be thoughtfully planned, deliberately executed and ongoing.

Session 2

Essential QuestionS

• How does the board build and sustain the school’s leadership?
• How does the board conduct its business?

Enduring understandings:

• Hiring the head and insuring smooth leadership transition is the board’s most important responsibility.
• The head of school is the board’s only employee and s/he must be publicly supported.
• The evaluation of the head must be seen through a “growth mindset” and aligned with the job description and board-approved goals.
• Board effectiveness is enhanced through the use of standardized formats and routines.
• Board structures should follow the “form follows function” principle.
• It is essential for the board to have an articulated culture/set of common agreements that is adhered to and enforced.

Saturday, October 26

Session 1

Essential Questions

• How does the board establish and sustain a strategic direction for the school?
• How does the board monitor progress in fulfilling the school’s mission, meeting its objectives and insuring adherence to its articulated values?

Enduring understandings:

• Strategic thinking is an alternative to strategic planning. • ”U Theory” as an option for mature organizations.
• As the school’s strategist, the board needs to develop longer term, multi-year plans (building, finance, etc.)
• The board is the author and trustee of the school’s mission, vision and values and, as such, is responsible for ensuring alignment between those foundational documents and the school’s policies and practices; and for ensuring that those foundational documents are “living” and relevant.
• It is the board’s responsibility, working with the head, to develop a set of metrics/measures of success that are aligned with and in service to the school’s foundational documents.
• There is a difference between “data” and “anecdote”.
• The most important data is ‘trend data’.

Session 2


A structured opportunity to explore further, with other trustees and the presenters, aspects of governance of particular interest to participants.


Save paper and effort where possible!

For your convenience, and to support our efforts in being "green", all handouts/files posted here have been notated with an A, B, C or D indicating the following:

(A) hardcopies needed at workshop
(B) electronic version on laptop is sufficient (for viewing during the workshop)
(C) required reading PRIOR to the workshop
(D) file not needed for workshop itself, but simply material of additional interest/reference


Updates to handouts may be made until shortly before the start of the conference.