Department Chairs Institute

Aug 02, 2023 9:00AM—Aug 04, 2023 2:00PM



Cost $1,675 members; $1,425 group-rate; $2,500 non-members

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Department Chairs Institute

SESSION 1: August 2, 2023 | 9:00am - 2:00pm

SESSION 2: August 3, 2023 | 9:00am - 2:00pm

SESSION 3: August 4, 2023 | 9:00am - 2:00pm


The role of the department chair is often one of the most complex in a school. The chair must negotiate the responsibilities of leadership within the department as a teaching colleague while at the same time working with the administrative team in addressing the larger issues of the entire school. The Department Chairs Institute will guide participants in exploring the multilayered challenges of this unique position and in developing the knowledge, skills, and strategies needed to become effective department leaders.

With the help of readings, activities, and group work, participants will learn new skills and processes, support each other around challenges, and establish a strong “leadership learning community” amongst themselves. Throughout the Institute, participants will have opportunities to work individually and collaboratively on their own department visions and will leave with practical structures and strategies that will help them to plan and implement their goals in the year ahead.

Some of the specific topics we will explore:

  • Developing departmental structures and systems that support student learning and foster equity and efficiency
  • Forging a common and compelling vision/direction amongst independent-minded colleagues
  • Identifying, prioritizing, and advancing professional and departmental goals for the short and long term
  • Designing and facilitating impactful department meetings 
  • Leading and managing change over time

Central questions we will explore:

  • What does being department chair mean to me?
  • How can I understand my department from multiple perspectives?
  • What does my department need the most right now? In the future?
  • How can observations and feedback best support student learning and faculty growth? 
  • What do I need to effectively navigate difficult conversations?
  • How can transparent departmental structures and consistent departmental practices enhance student learning and team collaboration? 
  • How can I inspire my team?

Do you work at an independent school outside of California? Click here for a discount on our non-member registration!



Erin Nordlund is a K-12 Director of Teaching and Learning at Chadwick School. Prior to her current position, she was Chadwick's Curriculum Specialist and, before that, the English Department Chair and Interim Dean of Students. Erin has developed, led, and presented on a wide range of school-wide, divisional, and departmental curriculum, instruction, and assessment initiatives and wellness programming and has taught eighth through twelfth grade English. Erin holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Southern California.  



For the past 16 years, Damaris Saenz has served as an educator in middle and upper school English programs. Apart from her role as a classroom teacher, she has served in various leadership capacities, such as middle school DEI coordinator and international educational consultant, where she leveraged a passion for curriculum to create professional development seminars on collaborative learning, ESL best practices, strategies for new teachers, new approaches to assessment, and positive behavioral intervention strategies. Damaris has also served as an adjunct faculty at La Sierra University, where she has taught courses in both the Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and Masters in Teaching programs. She currently serves as the chair of the Middle School English department at Harvard-Westlake.

Cancellation Policy

Life happens. We understand that there will be times when you cannot attend a workshop that you have registered and paid for. We strive to be as helpful and flexible as possible when things out of your control happen. Please visit our FAQ page for detailed information about our cancellation policy and answers to frequently asked questions about enrollment and membership.