ATLIS Cybersecurity Update (March 31, 2021)

ATLIS continues to provide critical information to the independent school community via its semi-annual Cybersecurity Update webinar. On March 31, 2021, regular contributors Todd Doss of the Ankura cybersecurity response team, Alex Inman of Educational Collaborators, and Buddy Pitt of Logically offered their latest insights, including how to build a team to conduct a self-audit, how to conduct regular, necessary training in how to avoid common pitfalls, and how to consider the changing landscape of cyber criminal behavior, including recent attacks that hijack software updates to sneak into your systems.  -- SD [5-minute read; 1-hour video]

ATLIS Cybersecurity Update (Webinar Video Archive)
March 31, 2021

Don't miss these ATLIS Cybersecurity Resources!

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ATLIS Virtual Town Hall, March 10, 2021: The BIG Portal Shifts with Special Guest Will Richardson

Our latest Virtual Town Hall introduced our audience to Will Richardson, keynote speaker for ATLIS 2021: Undaunted, and launched a discussion of the major shifts in our schools over the course of the past year.  Next we wondered what you think will stick after the pandemic has passed. We then ask what is the best vision of schools we can imagine for the future and how technology can undergird the vision we share. - SD [10-minute read; 1-hour video]

  • May 19, 1 pm Eastern: Save the date for our next Virtual Town Hall. Registration is required for new Virtual Town Hall participants and is free and open to all. If you have previously registered, you will automatically receive an invitation to join. 
  • Complete Virtual Town Hall Video Archive (Wakelet)

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Important Announcement: ATLIS Retreat Pushed to July

In the wake of recent announcements that all eligible and interested parties will have access to a COVID-19 vaccine by May, ATLIS is pleased to share that it has worked with the Seattle venue to push back the ATLIS 2021: Undaunted in-person retreat to July 24-27, 2021.

“We know that many people in our community are interested in attending the retreat, but the timing of vaccine availability wasn’t aligning with our late April dates,” said Christina Lewellen, executive director of ATLIS. “When our hotel venue was open to partnering on later dates, we knew it would also open up the possibility for more interested attendees to join us for this important immersive experience. We were always confident we could host a safe event and now the later July timing gives us the opportunity to deliver the retreat experience to more of those who want to participate."

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ATLIS Reads: Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Our year-long book seminar for technology thought leaders concludes with this guest post from Ethan Delavan, who previews Radical Candor: Fully Revised & Updated Edition Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. We welcome your ideas for ATLIS Reads book selections for 2021-2022. Send your suggestions to [email protected] -- SD [10-minute read]

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Do You Want Sympathy or Solutions?

At a recent Virtual Town Hall, Damien Barrett, Systems Administrator and Ed Tech Integrator at Montclair Kimberley Academy in New Jersey,illustration shared his philosophy for working with stressed colleagues and students as we all get through the challenges of this pandemic year. He shares more insights on this topic in this guest blog post. -- SD [10 minute read]

Guest Blogger: Damien Barrett 

When either my wife Alise or I have an obviously bad day, we have agreed to ask each other one simple, but powerful question: Are you seeking sympathy or solutions? 

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One More Time: Let’s Not Go Back to Normal

This post provides a window into the inspiration we expect to hear from Will Richardson, co-founder of The BIG Questions Institute and keynote for the ATLIS 2021: Undaunted Annual Conference on April 13. Spend some time with the new BQI ebook 9 BIG Questions Schools Must Answer to Avoid Going "Back to Normal" (*Because Normal Wasn't That Great to Begin With) before the virtual conference on April 12-13 and you'll be even more prepared to dig into the questions that matter for our community as we address how we can sustain innovations achieved in the past year and look ahead to plan the kinds of schools we hope to create for post-pandemic learners. -- SD [10-minute read]

coverGuest Blogger: Will Richardson
Co-founder, The BIG Questions Institute
Keynote: ATLIS 2021: Undaunted Annual Conference

I know there’s been a lot of talk of late about getting back to “normal” and the quest to regain some of our old rhythms in life. Everyone is exhausted. We just want to stop having to think about all of this and find some predictability.  

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ATLIS Virtual Town Hall 10 February 2021: Rethinking School with Special Guest Homa Tavangar

This virtual town hall begins with an introduction to Homa Tavangar, keynote speaker for ATLIS 2021 Undaunted, and a discussion of the wellbeing of the educators and their profession. This exposes a natural connection to the new Big Questions Institute ebook, 9 BIG Questions Schools Must Answer to Avoid Going "Back to *Normal" (*Because "Normal" Wasn't That Great to Begin With). This led to a deeper dive into the impact of the pandemic on the personnel who have kept schools up and running and a closer look at the evolution PD for reaching overloaded teachers who shut down at the prospect of "one more thing." - SD [10-minute read; 1-hour video]

Quick Links

  • February 10, 1 pm Eastern: Save the date for our next Virtual Town Hall. Registration is required for new Virtual Town Hall participants and is free and open to all. If you have previously registered, you will automatically receive an invitation to join. 
  • Complete Virtual Town Hall Video Archive (Wakelet)

ATLIS Virtual Town Hall
February 10, 2021
Video Archive

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Technology Benchmarking: How Did Your School Fare During the Pandemic?

ATLIS 2021 Technology Landscape Survey gives immediate insights.


Like many things unexpectedly disrupted with the onset of the pandemic, ATLIS’s annual Technology Impact and Efficacy (TIE) Assessment was derailed in 2020. We were mid-collection when the landscape irrevocably shifted, leaving us to evaluate the benchmarking information that technology leaders would most need right now. With that, we’re pleased to announce we’ve partnered with Educational Collaborators, our TIE Assessment partner, and author Pamela Gaudet to design a quick, meaningful diagnostic tool that provides immediate feedback to technology leaders at independent schools. 

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Are we REALLY gathering in Seattle? Yes, we are.

retreat graphicIf you’ve been waiting for the green light, it’s all systems “go” for Seattle. 

If you’re wondering whether we are moving forward with our in-person retreat in Seattle, the answer is: absolutely. We get the sense that some of you might be wondering if it’s really going to happen, so allow us to clarify some questions! 

Once you register for the ATLIS 2021: Undaunted virtual conference, which takes place April 12-13, you’ll be provided the information to add on the retreat and round out your experience for a nominal additional fee. We’ll be building on the core content offered during the virtual conference with a deeper dive and plenty of time for guided personal contextualizing and strategizing. Join us April 25-28 for a memorable retreat experience. 

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Nominations Open for ATLIS Pillar Awards

If you or someone you know is a technology leader who has stepped into the spotlight in the last year, the time has come for formal recognition. ATLIS is calling for Pillar Award nominations through March 1. 

The ATLIS Pillar Awards were established in 2018 to honor individuals whose body of work exemplify independent school technology leaders. Nominators are encouraged to tie their nominations directly to the ATLIS vision and mission statements. 

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20 Years in Edtech, 20 Lessons Learned

Curt Lieneck is legendary among independent school technology leaders. When he began posting tweets last Fall gleaned from his decades of experience in the field, we paid attention. Happily, Lieneck has allowed ATLIS to collect his wisdom into this blog post. It's actually 21 tips, but who's counting. -- SD [10-minute read]


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Streamline Admissions Inquiries (FACTS)

The following is a guest blog from an ATLIS vendor partner, FACTS.  Courtney Haindel, FACTS SIS Product Manager, shares new product updates and features.

In January 2020, FACTS doubled down on its commitment to school enrollment. We assembled a brand-new development team solely dedicated to streamlining your school’s entire admissions process into one central, easy-to-use system. Now the time has come to unveil our new features.

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ATLIS Wants to Reward You for All You've Done This Year

conference banner

Our team has witnessed firsthand the heroic efforts technology leaders have put forth to serve independent schools this year. In some cases, these selfless contributors are recognized for going above and beyond. Unfortunately, too often it’s still the case that technology leaders remain the unsung heroes in the pandemic. This is why the ATLIS team aims to find ways to celebrate and reward technology leaders.

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BQI Offers Online Workshop, Perfect for Teams


Ela Ben-Ur, one of the pioneering designers at IDEO and MIT, now an instructor of design at Olin College of Engineering, will be leading an online workshop: Navigating a Mess of Unending Challenges: Five Questions to Get Us Unstuck for Impactful STEM to SEL to Staff Meetings on Feb 2 + 4 at 7 pm US ET. Ela, the creator of Innovator’s Compass, will personally guide participants through its protocols during the session as they learn to apply it to their own challenges.

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ATLIS Virtual Town Hall Salutes Tech Team Rock Stars, January 13, 2021

iconThe first ATLIS Virtual Town Hall of 2021 gave special recognition to the many tech team rock stars who keep the technology humming along smoothly at our independent schools -- help desk staffers, data managers, IT and systems administrators, edtech implementation coaches, and, yes, those who serve as all of the above. Our conversation ranged from helpdesk implementation to considering the school’s value proposition to the community to favorite hacks and solutions for the challenges faced by tech teams in recent months.

[15 min. read]

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Meet FACTS President Scott Spethman

March seems like such a long time ago, doesn’t it?
It was a month filled with fear, doubt, and (in case you haven’t heard this word often enough) uncertainty. But I remember feeling one thing in particular: Confidence. I felt confident that the world of education would rise to the challenge and adapt – and that my team would do the same.
I’m incredibly happy to report that my confidence wasn’t unfounded.

Maintaining Communication no Matter What
This was a year of change for education and educators alike. FACTS associates have been working from home since March. Like many others, we’re constantly on video calls and working remotely to support our schools. Our communication channels may have changed, but I’m proud of our associates for stepping up to maintain our level of service for our partner schools. Even though we miss visiting campuses and chatting with clients at conferences and events, we’ve made do. It was our goal to be there for our clients – a constant, comforting presence whenever they needed us.

Addressing Trends and Concerns from the Independent School Community
The education industry shifted drastically in early 2020. FACTS shifted as well. We put an emphasis on helping schools prepare to offer more personalized education. We focused on 1:1 learning, more flexible school models, parent communication – we even built out a COVID-19 resource center that our independent school partners could use throughout the year. Another big focus for us has been addressing the social-emotional needs of students. We’ve reevaluated the ways we (and schools) can communicate with students and families. And we’re doing everything we can to make the process smoother for everyone – like improving our Family App.

FACTS' COVID-19 Resource Center
The Future of FACTS
We’re well-positioned to support the 11,500 schools and three million families we work with, regardless of the status of COVID-19. I’m particularly excited about the enhancements we have planned for our SIS. It’s already very sophisticated, but we’re planning to build it out even more over the next year. On top of that, we’ll be enhancing our Application & Enrollment product, and introducing our new open API to continue supporting the goals of our partner schools. The confidence I had back in March hasn’t wavered – it’s actually gotten stronger. We’ll be ready to help our partners move forward in 2021.

Looking Forward to the Post-COVID Era
Selfishly, I can’t wait to travel back to Chicago for a Portillo’s Italian Beef. (If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it.) But on a more serious note, I miss having contact with the team and our customers on a regular basis. Human connection is something we all crave – and I’m no exception. Over the past 33 years, much of my career has been spent on the road. For the first time in a long while, I’ve been at home for eight straight months. When it’s safe to do so, I look forward to spending time relaxing with friends, sharing meals with clients, and making new connections.

Hello 2021/Goodbye 2020 Pop-Up PULSE Survey


9 Tips To Develop A School Software RFP

Evaluating software solutions for your school can be a daunting task. What are requirements versus nice-to-haves? Who should be involved? Where should I begin? Developing an RFP (Request for Proposal) can help provide structure for the process. Below are 9 suggestions based on our experience responding to customer RFPs.

1. You may not need an RFP

Some schools submit 100-page RFPs but don’t have a process established for vetting proposals once they are received. Other schools do not use an RFP but have a process that is organized, efficient, and managed well. The most important thing is to know what your school needs and ensure that vendors meet those needs. If you do decide to use an RFP, the format doesn’t matter—just clearly articulate your needs, timeline, and requirements for the vendor. Speaking of which...

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ATLIS December Summit-- Leading Together (Video Archive)

ATLIS Summit: Leading Together -- Why Administrative Partnerships Matter
December 16, 2020

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its mark on our schools, technology leaders have risen to prominence as key figures to rely upon for determining how to manage in the crisis and meet the missions of the schools they serve. The success of their partnerships with colleagues across the administrative team has depended upon openness, transparency, and collaboration to serve the mission of the schools they serve. Guests panelists from AISAP and MISBO join ATLIS Executive Director Christina Lewellen to share important ways for technology leaders to team up with Admissions and Finance officers to help their schools thrive amidst the pandemic and beyond.

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ATLIS Executive Director Shares 2020 Holiday Message

In this post at the end of a challenging year, Christina Lewellen, Executive Director of ATLIS, shares a holiday message for the independent school technology leaders in our community. -- SD [10-minute read] 

I usually look forward to decking out the house in holiday lights, and I’ve been known to spend days shuffling ladders and adorning surfaces high and low with my LED color palette of the year. 

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