2021 National Leadership Retreat


May 6-7; 13-14; 20-21

This year’s National Leadership Retreat brings leaders from across our network together in a series of six virtual sessions to discuss both our work in the current moment and to strengthen our plans for the many transitions ahead.

As always, the goals of our retreat are to:
1) Engage in constructive dialogue with one another about best practices from across our schools;
2) Provide concrete networking opportunities;
3) Provide access to strategic planning tools and resources;
4) Leverage the collective strengths of our national network;
5) Provide space to share and discuss experiences, challenges, and strengths;
6) Create opportunities for deeper conversations around difficult topics.

This year we will hear compelling ideas and research from guest speakers, explore innovations, stories, and learning from leaders across our network, and create space to discuss and share with one another about what we are doing now to cultivate strong school communities as well as how we are collectively charting a path forward into next year.

Sessions will take place at 3:00p-4:30p EST/12:00p-1:30p PST on the following days:
– Thursday May 6 & Friday May 7

– Thursday May 13 & Friday May 14

– Thursday May 20 & Friday May 21

We look forward to bringing everyone together in this unique opportunity to share, explore,
and learn from one another.

May 6 & 7 — Week 1

Thursday, May 6,  3:00p-4:30p ET/12:00p-1:30p PT

We are honored to welcome as our keynote speaker Dr. Roberto Padilla, a national education leader and equity warrior.  Dr. Padilla currently serves as the Superintendent of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District in Newburgh, NY. 

Padilla was a teacher and principal in New York City. He is widely recognized for his leadership in turning around failing schools and supporting school district leaders both nationally and internationally on change leadership. He considers himself an equity warrior whose purpose is to give all children a fighting chance at having a productive life. He is committed to placing effective teachers and school leaders in every school. 

Dr. Padilla is the 2019 Education Weekly, Leaders to Learn From. This national prestigious recognition reflects his commitment to districtwide equity and excellence. He was a Deeper Learning Equity Fellow, an Education  Policy Fellow at Columbia University, and served a four-year term as a Board Member for Harvard University’s  Principal Center. He received his doctorate from Fordham University.

As we look toward re-engaging our students and families upon their return to school, Dr. Padilla will share his perspective on how we can respond to the current crisis, moving beyond rhetoric with a focus on equity and action.

Read Dr. Padilla’s full bio here.

Friday, May 7,  3:00p-4:30p ET/12:00p-1:30p PT

Leveraging Action Research as a Vehicle for Community Learning

As teachers and leaders within International schools have sought to understand ways of better serving their students, many have leveraged action research as a tool for school based inquiry. This panel will explore the different elements of action research studies including: creating conditions to support research, identifying wonderings, choosing different methods of data collection, making meaning of research and sharing with school communities. Reva Jaffe-Walter, researcher/scholar and former Internationals teacher and Kathleen Rucker and Shazia from Brooklyn International High School will share processes, principles and examples from their research and action research projects.

May 13 & 14 — Week 2

Thursday, May 13,  3:00p-4:30p ET/12:00p-1:30p PT

Learnings and Next Steps from the Bay Area SLIFE Working Group

As we plan for the coming school year, how can our school communities strengthen support for SLIFE? Bay Area school leaders & educators have been coming together throughout this school year to learn about & to develop effective systems for supporting SLIFE. They have explored literature, case studies, and examples in order to reflect on and discuss their own work. Rocio Reyes, the Academy Leader for Richmond High School’s International Academy, will present an overview of her experience as a member of this group and the key learning, wonderings, and next steps that have emerged as a result. Participants will have ample time to discuss and explore these ideas with other leaders from across the network, and space to reflect on potential applications to their own school communities and context.


Friday, May 14,  3:00p-4:30p ET/12:00p-1:30p PT

Unpacking Language-Related Knowledge for Teaching ELs: Findings from Research in Internationals Network Schools

Language and content integration (LCI) is a core principle of the Internationals approach, but there is not a lot of detail on what we see when we open that magical box. Much research has conceptualized what language-related knowledge content area teachers should have. However, there are few empirical studies of what content teachers know about language, and how they integrate this knowledge in their content instruction. In this presentation, Internationals’ partners Kongji Qin (https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/people/kongji-qin) and Lorena Llosa (https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/people/lorena-llosa), professors and researchers from New York University, will share what they learned from a study of expert science teachers within Internationals and we will examine what implications that has for our collective work.


May 20 & 21 — Week 3

Thursday, May 20,  3:00p-4:30p ET/12:00p-1:30p PT

Empathy Interviews to Support Student Engagement

Getting a holistic picture of how our students are experiencing school has been tougher this year than it’s ever been. An empathy interview is a valuable tool that can be used to see from the perspective of the “user” of our system. In this session you will hear about Francis Hammond International Academy’s experience using this tool to better understand a target group of students that were attending virtual class consistently but minimally engaging during and/or after class. Whether you are collecting data as part of an inquiry cycle or in your reopening design process, these semi-structured conversations and the empathy mapping process can be a helpful way to develop insights about what your students need and how to best support them. Participants will have ample time to discuss and explore this tool with other leaders from across the network, and space to reflect on potential applications to their own school communities and context.


Friday, May 21,  3:00p-4:30p ET/12:00p-1:30p PT

Bringing it All Together: Planning for Fall 2021

This final session will provide Leadership Retreat participants with the opportunity to bring together their reflections, learnings and wonderings from prior sessions. We will explore planned or new strategies and their implications for addressing the new needs of your community after the pandemic. 


2021 National Leadership Retreat