School Success

Schools That Thrive: A new podcast series hosted by MindBridge explores success in private schools

The percentage of all students enrolled in private schools decreased from 12 percent in 1995–96 to 10 percent in 2013–14. This trend is projected to continue, with enrollment reaching 9 percent in 2025–26. Many factors are at play here: the widening array of secondary schooling options for parents, steadily changing demographics, and increasing costs for college/university–to name a few. All factors can make it more difficult for any school to compete with peer institution, and a growing number of institutions are beginning to struggle…

But here’s the silver lining–some schools are doing better than ever.

Tune in to Episode 1 of our new podcast series, “Schools That Thrive,” featured on EdTech Times, to hear how private school leaders and educators and industry professionals are successfully handling our rapidly-evolving education landscape.

In 30 minutes, our first expert, Jessica McWade (President, McWade Group), shares the importance of a school not trying to “be everything to everyone.” She speaks on the power of market research in helping educators identify and focus on what’s most important to their stakeholders. Jessica also discusses three main roles of strong leadership and what Star Trek‘s Spock can teach us about technology adoption.

Listen to our conversation with Jessica.

Episode 2: Matt Glendinning (Head of School, Moses Brown) talks about focusing not only on school programs, but also on the students and their needs and expectations. He believes that schools should play a key role in developing character as equally as they do in academic content. When it comes to leaders, Matt shares that a capable leader must be able to both articulate a school’s vision and excite people about it: “You could have the most compelling vision in the world, but if you don’t have the people who can build relationships, your school is probably not going anywhere.”

Episode 3: Tim Welsh (Headmaster, Matignon High School) presides over a medium-to-small sized Catholic school and given his past experience in a school with 1,500 enrollment, he is very familiar with the different benefits and challenges of each model. He speaks to the value of being able to individualize the education experience for students and having a school community that reflects the world students will be going into. Tim also shares a bit of interesting history that sheds light on the Catholic school challenge of fulfilling a mission of accessibility with the need to balance fiscally—a large part of which is providing appropriate compensation for “the most important piece of the puzzle:” the people.

Listen to our conversation with Tim.

Watch this space for updates, discussion, and the release of new episodes!

What words do you associate with MAKERSPACE?

Insights from a Roundtable: What to Make of Makerspaces?

For the last decade, makerspaces have evolved from the simple incorporation of new equipment in classroom corners into full-blown hubs of innovation. As more schools choose to participate in the maker movement, the need is emerging for clearer guidelines and best practices around creating, designing, and implementing successful makerspaces. As with all innovative pursuits, it is important that every school learn how to best adopt the trend or spearhead the initiative so that the return on investment of time and money is “worth it” for both the institution and the stakeholders that it serves.

After developing a whitepaper based on research from early 2016–including engaging a group of administrators from a national conference for independent school technology leaders–we were excited to explore makerspace activity in the Northeast, to get the local pulse of the movement, and to enable cross-institutional learning. As such, MindBridge invited school leaders to join us at Sacred Heart School in Kingston, MA for a roundtable discussion entitled “What to Make of Makerspaces?” Our goal: to turn expertise and collective experience into actionable insights for guiding the growth of makerspaces.  Driving question: how could their schools create successful spaces that both enhance the value proposition of the school and provide a valuable experience for students and faculty alike?

Key results from a survey delivered prior to the workshop revealed the following:

  • Fifty percent of schools present had a makerspace.
  • Spaces were described as: an opportunity for Project-based Learning; an integral element of the Visual Arts curriculum; an extension of learning that focuses on the future; and an add-on tool to assist with classes
  • Sixty percent of schools had a dedicated faculty member leading makerspace initiatives
  • Eighty percent said “Yes” to resources being available for related educational and professional development for faculty
  • Seventy-eight percent had formal opportunities for showcasing students’ makerspace experiences (including newsletters, open houses and student exhibitions, competitions, social media demonstrations, video portfolios of their work, and grant workshops)
  • Most schools were in the “just developing” phase of measuring the effectiveness/success of their makerspaces, with some using student and teacher feedback.
  • A final, and quite interesting finding is shown in the figures below. Despite the perceived importance of the maker movement to a school’s value proposition, satisfaction with curriculum integration remained low.

Satisfaction with maker-curricula













The above results, along with guiding insights around makerspace structure by our team of presenters (Esin Sile, Ph.D., CEO MindBridge Partners, Keith Gillette, Senior Advisor, MindBridge Partners, Scott Roy, CTO, Carney, Sandoe, and Associates), laid the groundwork for conversation around a list of exploratory questions. Of all topics discussed, three main themes emerged: (1) The need for greater collaboration, cohesiveness, and support in makerspace development and management; (2) supporting the creative process of students, and (3) incorporating community partnerships in programming.

Collaboration, Cohesiveness, and Support

The presiding sentiment around developing a makerspace from most attendees was that the strong desire for space creation and success was not matched with a provision of adequate team resources. Resources can often be underestimated because there is lack of clarity around “what it takes” to adopt a novel initiative. However, this can quickly lead to overwhelm and frustration on the part of the lean team (or single person!) that is tasked with making it happen. Participants shared that typically such work is added on to existing tasks, and they are left wondering how it’s possible to manage it all. Even with a designated faculty member to spearhead the process, building a makerspace should be a team effort—ideally with representation across several departments.

Besides sharing workload, an additional benefit of having a committed and diverse team with multiple institutional perspectives resides in a more comprehensive integration strategy. In one school, maker programming in Grades 4-6 ensured that teachers in Grades 7-9 knew exactly what skills students were prepared to engage moving forward—a great example of how it pays to be involved.

Supporting the Creative Process of Students

The maker movement encourages a kind of learning that is more reminiscent of days of yore than what is typically provided (and expected) from today’s students. Most college prep institutions aim to prepare students with rigorous academics and full extracurricular schedules, programs aptly positioned to place significant pressure that results in not only eustress, but also distress for students. Students are “trained” for excellence. One school leader voiced: “Kids are so trained, even by 3rd grade, [that] they are waiting to be told what to do.” Several individuals remarked on a pervasive fear of failure, which is quite the challenge for spaces designed to promote independent thinking and open creation. “When the point is the process and not the end product, the kids don’t understand.”

Makerspaces provide an opportunity for schools to develop a culture of “Celebrating Failure,” which ultimately prepares students for innovative pursuits in the real world. And the aforementioned process-not-product focus places value in students’ ability to carefully document the creative process, putting the weight of evaluation only on final documentation. However, one participant noted that students really do need some form of direction. “Even if a student is a ‘high achiever,’ assume they know nothing about the task at hand. Today’s kids are consumers, not so much creators.”

As for other resources for supporting students’ creative process: the placement of a makerspace near the library encouraged an open style of learning, whereby students worked until they reached a roadblock and then visited the library to pick up the necessary knowledge. And and creative programming option that is appealing enough or more closely tied to real-world vs theoretical problems may result in excitement and engagement that far outweigh any hesitancy to “make”.

Community Partnerships in Makerspace Programming

Excitement and real-world applicability drive the final theme that emerged during workshop discussion. The potential impact of makerspaces extends far outside of institutional walls when one considers their relevance to the broader community. One school opened up space development to parent and alumni input and received enthusiastic feedback with offers to assist both on-site and in the separate capacity of helping to build partnerships with other organizations in the community.

A final consideration regarding makerspaces outside of school walls—it helps to consider the environmental impact of the tools that are used. Part of our charge as educators is to teach the next generation to “Create Responsibly” during their formative years. Methods learned and habits formed during free creation will indeed carry over into future pursuits.

In summary, to create a sustainable makerspace, it is important to create, develop, implement, and promote the space in a strategic, intentional, and systematic way. A focus on designing metrics for assessing the impact of the makerspace on teaching and learning will add to sustainability, especially in leaders’ ability to garner support from stakeholders along the way. Indeed, the forward-looking trend will be towards assessment and pedagogy as programs become more formalized.

We hope to continue the conversation around makerspaces in independent schools as the movement continues to evolve. If you’d like to bring a roundtable discussion to your school, please email us at!




Boston in the Fall

Here’s what’s coming up for MindBridge in October!

MindBridge Partners has a big month ahead! Check out the happenings below:

We’re running a workshop at Sacred Heart School, Kingston on October 5th: “What to Make of Makerspaces?” where we will dive into the rapidly evolving trend of Makerspaces in K-12 independent schools. We invite you to fill out the pre-registration survey and sign up on Eventbrite at your earliest convenience—space is limited!

We are excitedly working on a podcast series for EdTechTimes that will explore the latest trends on the minds of independent school administrators. Stay tuned for a sneak peek of featured K–12 schools.

Get ready for our live webinar: “How to Power Up Your Value Proposition!” On October 14th, Esin and team will lay the groundwork for developing a better understanding of your school’s value proposition and present a series of steps to help to strengthen it. Registration opens next Monday 9/19. Sign up for updates here, and save the date!


Makerspaces are Game Changers in Education

Mary Jo Madda, Senior Editor at EdSurge, raised an important question with last week’s article entitled: “Is the ‘Maker Movement’ an Education Game Changer, or Just a Trendy Take on Gadgets and Project-Based Learning?”

Turns out MindBridge Partners has been engaged in research on makerspaces, and we have a strong argument for why makerspaces are in fact an education innovation that is “changing the game” in K-12. Check out our response article on LinkedIn:

Session Notes

Transformative Trends in EdTech: ATLIS Session Round-Up

The 2016 ATLIS National Conference may have ended, but the learning continues!

Last week MindBridge Partners joined Carney, Sandoe & Associates to lead an engaging and insightful session on current transformative trends in education technology in independent schools. A full room of ATLIS 2016 conference attendees—all leaders in the independent school IT space—focused the discussion on the topic of Makerspace. Participants shared their experiences in developing and enhancing makerspaces at their institutions. We also discussed the importance of strategically aligning such edtech initiatives to the school’s goals and mission.

Follow the link below for our Collaborative Session Summary, which reflects key takeaways supported by anecdotal evidence from a pre-conference survey fielded by Carney Sandoe with more than 600 IT directors across the nation.

ATLIS 2016 – Transformative Trends in EdTech – Collaborative Session Summary – MindBridge Partners – CarneySandoe

We look forward to continuing the conversation on makerspaces and other transformative trends in K-12.

Please contact MindBridge Partners at for more information.

IT in Education

MindBridge to present on EdTech Trends and IT Teamwork at ATLIS Conference 2016

MindBridge is excited to participate in this year’s ATLIS Conference beginning this Sunday April 17th thru Wednesday April 20th in Atlanta. Slated as a “Must-Attend Event for Technology Leaders in Independent Schools,” this national conference gathers the independent school community for focused professional development seminars, networking, and idea-sharing. Attendees for ATLIS 2016 come from over 150 independent schools, associations, and companies across the country.

This year, MindBridge Partners is presenting two sessions:

In “What’s Next? Transformative Trends in EdTech” (4/17 1:00-3:00PM) MindBridge CEO Dr. Esin Sile and Senior Advisor Keith Gillette are teaming up with Carney Sandoe and Associates CTO Scott Roy to kick off the conference with creative collaboration:

“In a rapidly changing education technology landscape, some school tech initiatives can lead to more questions than answers. Be prepared to tackle new edtech challenges by getting a head-start on the issues that are trending.

This session will kick off the ATLIS conference with a roundtable platform to highlight and discuss three transformative trends in education technology that are impacting your schools: Student Data Privacy, 1:1 / BYOD, and the Maker Movement. You will have the opportunity to choose a transformative trend, engage in lively roundtable discussion with industry peers, and participate in developing a set of best practices for applying the trend to real-world scenarios.

Whether your school is just starting to grapple with the trend or whether you already have projects underway, you’ll benefit from the insights and strategies developed in this hands-on working session.”

Senior Advisor Keith Gillette will then take the lead in presenting “Get Your Team RACIng: An Integrated Approach to IT Job Design,” (4/19 10:00-10:45AM) as a conference send-off focused on team implementation readiness:

“Too many schools aren’t ‘firing on all cylinders’ because it’s unclear who’s responsible for even routine work. This is especially challenging in IT, where complexity and interconnection rule. Learn clear frameworks for apportioning job responsibilities that respect the intricacy of IT tasks and allow for clear delineation of responsibility without sacrificing teamwork.”

We are looking forward to connecting with and learning from peer leaders in independent schools!

Check out our presenter bios below, and be sure to tune in to our Twitter Feed and Google+ page for updates and insights from ATLIS 2016! For more information on the sessions, email us at 

• • • • •

Esin Sile, PhD

Esin Sile, PhD is a seasoned Economist and Consultant who has worked extensively with institutions and organizations in the education sector, partnering with clients in K-12 and higher education institutions to provide strategy based on data-driven research. She has more than 15 years of consulting experience, with her expertise in the education sector spanning enrollment management, branding and marketing, pricing and value, strategic planning, academic program management, and innovative practices. Esin has also advised clients globally on how to best adopt innovative and entrepreneurial strategies in their organizations.

Esin is a frequent speaker at international conferences on education innovation and entrepreneurship. Throughout her career, she has advised clients on issues related to complex litigation, regulatory proceedings, and strategy development in a wide array of industries. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Georgetown University, an M.A. in Economics from Brown, an M.A. in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and a B.A. in International Relations.

• • • • •

Keith Gillette, Senior Advisor, MindBridge Partners

Keith Gillette has more than 20 years of experience designing and delivering information technology solutions in K-20 educational contexts. He has launched and administered multiple 1:1 student computing learning initiatives. In addition to multi-platform network and systems design and administration experience, Keith has expertise in IT infrastructure design and construction management in both new building and facilities remodeling.

Keith holds an M.S. in Information & Telecommunications Systems Management, an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, as well as numerous IT industry certifications, not to mention his B.S. (what else?) in philosophy. Keith is a senior member of the American Society for Quality and brings Six Sigma certification and a quality systems/process management orientation to his work in strategic planning, systems design, project coordination, and operations management.

• • • • •

Scott Roy, Chief Technology Officer, Carney, Sandoe & Associates

Scott Roy has spent 17 years in independent school technology search and placement and 5 years in technology consulting. He currently holds the role of CTO at Carney Sandoe and Associates and also works as a Placement Associate and a Search Consultant, recruiting computer science teachers and technology directors for independent schools. He is proud to be a 5 year volunteer for grade 5 mathematics at Renaissance Charter School, Boston, MA, and a mentor for students enrolled in Trinity Education for Excellence Program (TEEP).

Scott worked as Senior Systems Engineer at Microsoft Corporation, an IT Group Manager at UniFirst Corporation, Consulting Services Manager at Welsh Consulting in Boston, and roles as both Managing Associate/Director of Technology and Chief Technology Officer at Carney, Sandoe & Associates. He graduated with a B.S. from the University of New Hampshire, an M.S. in Computer Science from Boston University. He is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.