48 Years As A Private School Visionary and Champion [Podcast]

Pat Bassett


Patrick F. Bassett began his career in 1970 as a teacher, coach, and dorm parent at Woodberry Forest School (VA), followed by two headships—Stuart Hall in Virginia and Pomfret School in Connecticut. Pat served as the president of ISACS—the Independent Schools Association of the Central States—from 1993 – 2001, and then as president of NAIS from 2001 to 2013. After leaving NAIS he co-founded Heads Up Educational Consulting that provides strategic, operational, governance, and programmatic guidance and consultation to educational enterprises. Now, after 48 years in the independent school business, Pat recently announced his retirement from the industry.  

Rob talked with Pat about his career that spans 48 years and dedicated to private schools, his big takeaways about the industry then and now, and how schools can thrive in the future. Plus you’ll learn a few facts that you can use in your next private school trivia game.


Pat Quoted

“I’ve always been in sales. I’m still in sales.”

“My first experience at college was a near-death experience.”

“I like to learn from someone who has diametrically opposed opinions to mine.”

“I taught 2/3 of you and at the time, I realized I didn’t think any of you would amount to anything. And now I’m surrounded by Titans of Industry.”

“There’s a very high likelihood that the privilege that students enjoy in their lives by knowing about our schools and their family being able to access and afford our schools, is richly rewarded by the education they get, the connections they make and the aspirations that grow.”

“Character counts at independent schools. If you don’t conform to the character expectations, you won’t finish.”

 “Tuitions are out of reach for most. If you’re in the top 5% incomes which starts at around $250,000, can you afford two students at a boarding school? No. You’re a candidate for financial aid.”

“How is this tuition model sustainable? Four grandparents.”

“Our schools should be marketing outcomes, not features.”

“Young alumni/ae in college survey outcomes usually say, ‘We’re better prepared than our peers.’”

“There’s more innovation going on in independent schools than I’ve seen in 50 years.” 

What You’ll Learn

  • How Pat’s trajectory went from public school education to teaching private school in the 60s.

  • How atheism figured into getting hired.

  • If Pat would make private schools his life again.

  • What Pat’s secret artistic passion is.

  • What Pat’s brand is.

  • How to get grandparents involved in the school.

  • The value of testimonials in your school’s marketing.

  • Value of young alumni/ae surveys.

  • The Achilles’ heal in private school education and what to do about it.

  • 5 Cs Plus One: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Character. PLUS Cross Cultural Competency (Cosmopolitanism)

  • How project based learning takes advantage of the 5 Cs Plus One.

  • If Pat could change one thing about independent schools, what would it be?

  • What independent schools need more of. 

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Pat posing with his favorite poet’s mailbox.

Pat posing with his favorite poet’s mailbox.

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