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Head of School Dr. Karen E. Eshoo guides participants at the 2018 NAIS Institute for Heads

Head of School Dr. Karen E. Eshoo may be new to King and just settled into her office but her years of experience and profound knowledge took her to Atlanta in July to serve for her third year as Faculty at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Institute for New Heads (INH). As a member of the esteemed faculty, Karen collaborated with other Heads to help prepare new heads of school for successful leadership transitions. According to NAIS, "At INH, (new heads) acquire an understanding of (their) leadership style, gain practical knowledge, demystify the head experience, and build a strong peer network."

Karen comments on her experience with INH and her thoughts on the work she does: "I was a participant in INH when I began my first Headship in 2011, and while I certainly felt like I was drinking from the proverbial fire hose during the week-long institute, I also knew that I was exponentially better prepared to start my new job thanks to the content I learned and the resources that were made available to me. I was incredibly honored to have been asked to join the faculty for INH in 2016 after completing my 5th year as Head, and this work continues to be some of the best and most challenging professional development I have ever experienced.

I realized when I first started at INH just how difficult it is to explain effectively what this job really is to those who haven't held the position yet - although Pat Bassett, the former Executive Director of NAIS, once aptly described the expectations of Heads of School as the equivalent of "God...on a good day." It is at once challenging, invigorating, frustrating, difficult, and stimulating. A Head's reactions and responses to routine daily operations and major crises alike tell a story about her values and propensities, and also tell a story about the school; she is, in fact, the most visible singular manifestation of the school's mission and values. The complexity of the overlapping responsibilities is significant, and the need to be authentically present for a wide variety of people and situations each day is a permanent state of being. This is exactly why I thoroughly love being a Head of School! Ultimately, it is also what I want to help the new Heads of School each summer begin to understand for themselves and their schools: how to do their new jobs in such a way that they can love the work. I know that because I always remain true to my values – which necessarily align very closely with my school's values – in my words and my actions, I do love my job. My greatest hope is that new heads can find their own path to loving their jobs because their schools need them!"

Stay tuned for more updates as Karen kicks off the 2018-2019 School year next month.