Revitalizing the Small School Community

by Angela L Fubler, BA, BCS, M.Ed.
Consultant, Eaglemann Learning & Innovation Group
Founder, Owner – Chatmore British International School, Bermuda 

Welcome Back!

I’m back after what felt like my own blog writer’s strike! But…In my time away, I’ve been diving into the world of small schools, meeting amazing professionals, and making friends who share a passion for the transformative power of quality learning. These colleagues are just as excited as I am about the incredible opportunities the Small Schools Coalition provides. I can’t wait for you to meet them through their insightful writings and collaborative invitations. Buckle up, because we’re about to REVITALIZE SMALL SCHOOLS like never before!

So let’s get back to our series: The RenAIssance of Small Schools



Small schools come in various forms, each with its unique ethos and focus. From Montessori and Waldorf schools, Adventure to Project-Based emphasizing alternative education approaches, to specialized small schools dedicated to specific subjects or student needs, the spectrum is broad. The size of a small school is more about fostering intimacy than a strict student count, often ranging from a cozy handful to two or even three hundred learners.

Kids pulling on a rope outside

Perhaps the true value of small schools lies in the intimate, community-centric environment they provide. In these close-knit settings, educators can tailor their teaching to individual needs, building meaningful relationships and fostering a personalized learning experience that often leads to lifelong connections. Students benefit not only academically but also emotionally, as they develop strong connections with teachers and peers. Small schools emphasize holistic development, nurturing resilience, character, and a profound sense of belonging.

As I have spent the last few weeks listening and learning from some incredibly experienced and inspiring educators, I have observed and noted 4 interesting concepts that emerged – though not specifically in all cases – but certainly intimated through various meetings, conversations, posts, workshops and plenaries. In fact, I think I needed the writing delay as a divine diversion to help me capture the essence and action of what Revitalization for the Small School Community might actually mean for us all.

By sheer coincidence (and okay… help from an online thesaurus) I was able to create 4 memorable “Cs to Ignite Revitalization”. Hopefully, it works with not being too corny and redundant: Collaboration, Cohesion, Connection and Confidence.

Let’s gently run through them and certainly as usual you may offer input suggestions and feedback as you see fit.

1. Collaboration

When achieved, the collaboration that occurs among staff, students, parents, small school leadership becomes so attuned that it looks, sounds and feels comfortable and harmonious.  Within the small school community to participate in this collaborative symphony, is often why all the musicians are on stage. They want to play; they want to maintain the tone of a collective spirit, fostering not only a sense of ownership within the learning space but also cultivating shared responsibility and nurturing the fundamental elements required for the holistic development of every young person.

Last week, I watched closely as the team from Council of British International Schools worked together to create an informative and interactive Annual Conference for its nearly 600 Delegates. The coordination and collaboration of responsibilities is extraordinary, and it is a relatively small team. They move around the spaces, interacting, setting up, fixing, checking, smiling and basically conducting the music of this 2-day minuet – it’s remarkable! And…unlike a large concert hall performance these incredible artists are all the instruments and the conductors. Sound familiar? I think like this example, Small Schooler’s want and even expect an orchestra of collaboration to exist within their entire learning community. What do you think?

Adults at a table with pens and notepads collaborating

2. Cohesion: Drawing Strength from Unity

Much like the Code of Practice for doctors, it seems small schoolers find strength in cohesion. Collaboration between those with a similar mindset and small school groups creates a supportive network where experiences, challenges, and innovative solutions are shared. Learning from one another, these like-minded schools and organizations forge a path of collective growth, ensuring that the values and principles of small schools remain unwavering. I met Melissa, Vanessa and Sophie during my time away and Melissa shared in LinkedIn post that “it’s hard being an outlier”. It definitely is but, she rounded it up with the idea that she’s linked to a few great people who share and celebrate her mindset. I think it’s fair to say that Small Schools are an “outlier” and sometimes even those of us who choose small schools are thought of as outliers. Ok so what if like Melissa suggested, the outliers stick together and create a cohesive network. By definition, do we remain outliers? Probably. And we are revitalized by the strength that lies in our unity. The three-fold cord is not easily broken.

A speaker and audience members raising both their hands at a conference

3.  Making Connections and Nurturing Productive Dialogue

Revitalization calls for open dialogue and shared experiences. In April I was anticipating a trip to Washington, DC to participate in the Microschools Conference.  I believed it would be an exciting and pivotal time of connection and learning conversations with likeminded individuals – you know.. to bond with a few outliers. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my travel on the week of the conference to prioritize a Small Schools project (yup… I sometimes over indulge in tea and double-deckers). The weight of my disappointment was matched by my new friend and colleague, Whitney who ultimately eased my concerns and assured me that I would not miss out on the content. True to her word, the information was received and followed up by a detailed conversation about the outcome and actions developed by the group.

If you’re like I was as a small school leader, you may not always have time for conferences and meetings-especially online. In hindsight, I wish I had made more connections and shared more time with people who understood the journey. Community conferences, both online and in person where possible, become pivotal gatherings for educators, students, and parents. These platforms serve as arenas for the exchange of ideas, best practices, and collective problem-solving. In-kind visits and student exchanges further enrich the tapestry of experiences, fostering a sense of unity and understanding. I would like to encourage Small Schoolers to connect more and support each other more through learning conversations and in person or online coffee/tea breaks. This is a necessary component of how to not only revitalize our Small Schools community but also help us to revitalize ourselves to ensure sustainability and legacy. Check the Small Schools Coalition for like-minded partner schools.

What do you need in order to know that you are connected?

Two adults talking and engaging in dialogue at a table with a laptop and notepad

4. Building International Confidence: Showcase the Small School, Often

When I started writing this blog series, I was thrilled to have connections with my Small School friends in the Caribbean, UK, USA and Mauritius. Since tea and double-deckers I have added friends and colleagues based in Phuket, Canada, Cyprus, Portugal and Nigeria. The many conversations and connections we made together has boosted my confidence about the relevance and impact of Small Schools. Though it certainly starts there, I am more confident than ever that revitalizing the Small School significance extends beyond our local community borders. Building international confidence in our small school product involves showcasing the unique strengths and values that define our educational ethos. By participating in global education conversations, establishing partnerships with international institutions, and engaging in collaborative projects, small schools amplify their impact and contribute to a global narrative of excellence. We need to showcase our Small School outcomes. On 19, 20 February 2025 a plan is underway  to host a Regional Conference in Bermuda, in collaboration with COBIS, that will highlight the need for schools to be Collaborative, Cohesive, Connected and Confident. Why Because NO SCHOOL IS AN ISLAND – that’s the conference Focus. No. This is not an ad. It could be an invitation but, it’s more like a clarion call to small schools, outliers and any education champions who want to contribute to the revitalization of joy and happiness in learning spaces for ALL stakeholders!

The conference (and a few more currently dreamy ideas) is an example of my determination to bring Small Schools to the forefront and regularly.

Hands stacked to show teamwork

Conclusion: A Revitalized Tomorrow for Small Schools

Embracing the challenge of revitalizing our small school community is not just a task; it’s a heartfelt commitment to nurturing the soul of education. As a passionate advocate for the small school experience, I have only tapped into the idea of Small School revitalization and the diverse facets that contribute to the vibrancy of our tight-knit educational family. 

As we create a collaborative, cohesive, connected and confident journey that aims to revitalize our small school community, we begin to write a harmonious manuscript for a bigger tomorrow. We have already explored the diverse tapestry of small schools and in this Post the collaborative spirit among staff, students, parents, leadership and the global connections we forge collectively contribute to the revitalization of the very essence of education. As we nurture and cultivate this revitalization, small schools emerge not just as educational institutions but as dynamic communities shaping the future of learning with passion, purpose, and unwavering commitment. In order to ignite a spirit of strength and unity, yes, we will, and we must continue to be vocal and visible but most certainly we become a strong collective as we promote and encourage each other from within our Small School community. 

See you again soon!

Contact Angela Fubler

Professional headshot of Angela Fubler

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