Trustees' Transparency: How the CAIS Board Works

November 16, 2016

Meeting CAIS Trustees at the 888 Campus

Board Chair Ernie Chow presenting on board governanceCAIS parents have a great time together, so it should come as no surprise that the CAIS 201 Board and Bubbly event featured convivial conversations as sparkling as the refreshments. Nearly 60 CAIS parents gathered at the 888 Campus to meet trustees and learn about how this board, largely comprising their peers, works at CAIS

Board Chair Ernie Chow gave an overview of the governance structure and invited fellow trustees to shine a light on the work of the various board committees. Parents learned how the board of CAIS, as a nonprofit, is different from corporate boards. Trustees volunteer tremendous time, talent, and treasure in service to a long-term vision for the school. They work to keep a high level view of CAIS priorities while the Head of School and administration focus on the day-to-day operations.

Ernie also fielded a thoughtful and thought-provoking Q&A featuring topics such as:

Q: Where does the Board see CAIS in 20 years?
A: Ernie reflected that work will be done to continue matching our space to our program, likely seeing the creation of an endowment, and, particularly on that 20-year timeline, engaging a robust alumni community as our graduates make their place in the world.

Q: Any plans to increase enrollment?
A: Head of School Jeff Bissell echoed Ernie’s statement that CAIS is at a good size currently.

Q: How does CAIS build best practices and maintain its leadership position when it’s already at the forefront?
A: Jeff Bissell identified the ace up our sleeve right away: Chinese Program Director Kevin Chang, whose preeminence in Chinese immersion education is recognized nationally. Jeff and Kevin frequently present at conferences, host visits from numerous schools, and themselves visit peer schools nationwide, keeping up a strong collaboration with others in our field. Jeff noted CAIS’s work with scholars at the college level to turn immersion research into practice. He touched on the work that we do to adapt best practices in English education, such as Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop, into Chinese as appropriate. New CAIS Trustee Chris Livaccari, principal at International School of the Peninsula, noted that CAIS is widely viewed as a leading light in the field. He also echoed the immersion field’s respect for Kevin Chang, who has pioneered a set of literacy assessments in Chinese.

Q: What are we doing to prepare our children to be the cultural bridge we need in the future?
A: Ernie Chow emphasized the importance of CAIS’s mission and shared that many CAIS parents are here to help foster peace in the world through language and culture studies. Jeff Bissell gave an impassioned take on how to process the national conversation around the election. In addition to advocating a renewed focus on subjects that build good citizens (civics, economics, science), he noted the importance of listening to others, avoiding echo chambers, and remembering that the correct response to something “foreign” is curiosity, not shunning. 

Trustees in attendance at CAIS 201 gathering