Our school has been preparing for an accreditation by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, Inc. (NEASC), and that means two things:
Housecleaning and housekeeping.
The housecleaning is the easy part. A great deal of time and effort has been spent on making the school look nice to the accreditation team. Considering that our campus is in the bucolic Litchfield Hills of Connecticut, we had a great start. Our building is extremely well maintained, and our maintenance staff has been recognized for their “green” maintenance policies. The final details to housecleaning were the addition of student art on the walls and a large canvas featuring the student designed logo that centers on the motto “Quality, Academics, Pride.”
Preparing the housekeeping was different. Housekeeping required that all stakeholders in our school community reflect on how well do we keep our “house”-our school- running. There have been meetings for the past two years: meetings with community members, meetings with students, meetings with teachers across disciplines. There have been committees to research eight topics:
- Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations
- Assessment of and for Student Learning
- School Culture and Leadership
- School Resources for Learning
- Community Resources for Learning
After all the meetings came the writing of the reports, and after all the reports came the gathering of the evidence. Finally, the evidence sits in eight bins in a room in the agricultural wing of the school ready for the volunteer accreditation team to review.
What is most striking about the collected evidence is the variety. The evidence today contrasts to the evidence from the accreditation several years ago. For each lesson plan on paper, there is a digital lesson plan. For each student essay drafted, peer-reviewed, and handwritten on composition paper, there is a Google Doc with peer comments, and to see each draft, one need only check “see revision history.” Whether or not members of the NEASC committee check the revision histories of individual documents is not as important as how they will check the history we have provided in the evidence bins and websites. In looking at the evidence, the NEASC committee will note our academic housekeeping, and they will make recommendations as to how we should proceed in the future.
The entire school community has every right to be proud of Wamogo Regional High School, and recommendations from NEASC will help guide us in the future. But for tonight, the housecleaning and housekeeping is over.
A message from the Vice Principal arrived by e-mail tonight; she sums up the experience:
When driving home from school this evening, I was thinking about the arduous process we have all been engaged in over the past two years. I don’t believe there is a single member of our school community that hasn’t played a part in this important preparation. Many of you worked tirelessly on committees, writing reports, culling evidence, hanging student work, etc., etc., etc. I just wanted to take a moment and thank the entire Wamogo community for the rally we have all engaged in to prepare for this important visit. I know that the visiting school will easily see what a special place Wamogo is and the obvious talents of our staff and students. I am extremely proud of our school and want you to enjoy showing the visiting committee what wonderful work you are doing with our students.
Welcome, NEASC. Our house is ready.