Maple Street School head named to independent schools group board

MANCHESTER -- Dr. Fran Bisselle, head of Manchester's Maple Street School, has been named to the Board of Trustees for the National Association of Independent Schools.

Bisselle announced her election after returning from the organization's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. The location of the meeting changes every year, so as to encourage more participation from members. Bisselle said usually between 3,000 and 5,000 educators attend the conference each year. The conference will be in Boston next year, and has featured such guest speakers as Sir Kenneth Robinson, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates.

Founded in 1962, NAIS is a nonprofit membership association that provides services to more than 1,700 independent schools in the U.S. and abroad, according to their website, including 1,400 independent private K-12 schools in the U.S.

"It's a wonderful organization," said Bisselle, which shares educational systems between independent schools, to help them do the best they can for their students.

"It's kind of a big deal to have a K-8 from Vermont on the board," said Bisselle, "it adds a rural voice to a national conversation." Bisselle will serve a three-year on the 20-person committee, which meets three times a year, once at the annual meeting and twice at the NAIS headquarters in Washington, D.C. There is a two-term limit for members. Former Bennington College president Elizabeth Coleman also serves on the board.

"Values and integrity"

Bisselle has not been given her committee assignments yet, however, she hopes she will be able to serve on the finance committee. "My responsibility," she said, "will be to add to the dialogue."

"We want our schools' leaders to be leaders of values and integrity, as well as knowing a lot about education," said Bisselle, "We in southern Vermont have a great educational ecosystem," with schools such as Maple Street, Burr and Burton Academy, and the Long Trail School. She said her selection to the board "speaks very highly of southern Vermont, and the schools we have here," and that is was an indication of how much Northshire schools value education.

According to a press release from the Maple Street School, NAIS "serves as the national voice of independent education, advocating on behalf of its members. The association offers research and trend analysis, leadership and governance guidance, and professional development opportunities for school and board leaders."

"It is a privilege to serve in this capacity," Bisselle said. "Being a part of an organization that thinks strategically abut how schools can best serve its student and families, and how inspirational teachers can use new techniques and the latest research to further teaching will be a wonderful experience. I look forward to learning from the best practices around the county, and sharing what Maple Street School does so well with others."

"I'm thrilled," she said, "it'll be fun, and I'll certainly be very busy, but I'm thrilled to be able to serve in this way."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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