Tip Sheets

Small School Leadership Strategies

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800.443.9441 | solutions@blackbaud.com | www.blackbaud.com June 2019 1 TIP SHEET 8 Leadership Strategies for Small School Success In today's educational environment, many small-school leaders are encountering challenges with enrollment, financial stability, and program development. From their perspective, it probably seems like large private schools with more resources at their disposal hold an inherent advantage; however, Greg Bamford, the former head of School at Watershed School in Boulder, Colorado, tells a different story. In his eBook, Small, Fast, and Warm-Blooded: Leadership in the Small Independent School, Bamford encourages small schools to resist the temptation of trying to compete with large schools by offering as many opportunities and programs as possible. Instead, he insists that a small school's advantage lies in its ability to specialize in fewer programs, creating unique experiences for its students and families. To help small schools thrive in competitive K–12 education markets, Bamford offers the following eight tips for school leaders. 1 Know where your heart is. The key to surviving as a small school in a tough education market is to accept the realities. The biggest of which is that while small schools may want to offer the same comprehensive programs as larger schools, there simply aren't enough resources to make it feasible. The small school advantage is to do one thing extremely well, better than any large school. The goal of your small school shouldn't be to please everyone, but to satisfy the needs of those who share the same unique vision and "heart" as your school. 2 Know who you serve. Finding the right students is vital to develop your school's identity. Be very clear about the mission of your school and the ideal candidates. The challenge here is that the difference between accepting or not enrolling two or three students can have a significant financial impact on your school. Despite this, it's important to stay the course because enrolling students who are off-mission will create an internal constituency that advocates for off-

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