Ready or not, here they come

After more than a year of preparation we’re as ready as we’re going to be.  This Sunday a team of experienced educators arrive on campus to begin an intensive three-day evaluation of our school.

Poughkeepsie Day School is proud to be a member of NYSAIS (New York State Association of Independent Schools).  It’s a great organization of 180 schools across enrolling 78,000 students and affiliated with the National Association of Independent Schools. NYSAIS provides all kinds of support for its membership schools including professional development offerings second to none.

We are accredited by NYSAIS and that means that every ten years we engage in a thorough process of self-scrutiny and external review.

We’ve been getting ready for this for over a year.  We started in the summer of 2011 and then spent a year of intensive analysis and review – a kind of soup-to-nuts examination – of every aspect of our work.

The process involved all school personnel plus trustees and parent and student representatives.

The result is a 135-page self-study and a Google site of detailed documentation. The purpose is to provide the visiting committee with all the tools and information they need to conduct a thorough evaluation process.

Of course they will be looking at classrooms and curriculum and talking with teachers and staff. But they will also be looking at everything else from finances to the food service, from buildings and grounds to governance, and from community to communications.

Everyone contributed to the process that was guided by a steering committee comprising Laura Graceffa, Sandra Moore, Sue Parise, George Swain and Wayne Toepp.  I am grateful to them all for their hard work and commitment to the school. George chaired the team and did yeoman service keeping track of all the working committees, the myriad details and organizational challenges. In this he has been ably supported by Victoria Mayes. I am in awe of what they have accomplished. Thank you George and Victoria for leading us all through this maze.  Thanks to the effort of everyone, we can now say we are NYSAIS-ready.

Our visiting committee of evaluators will be led by Kate Turley, head of school at City and Country School in Manhattan. She visited the school in the summer and saw the learning community under construction. Other members of the team are from a range of other independent schools: The Park School of Buffalo; The Harley School (Rochester), Dwight School (NYC), Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School (NYC); The Browning School (NYC) and The School at Columbia University (NYC).  The team also includes NYSAIS Associate Director for Evaluation and Accreditation  – Lois Bailey.

If you happen to see a committee member around school in the next few days say hello, make them feel welcome and let them know what you think.

It all kicks off at midday on Sunday when the committee arrives to begin its work.  Their visit will be over on Wednesday and we will hear the outcome early next year after the NYSAIS Commission on Accreditation has reviewed their detailed report.

I did wake up at 3am last night after a nightmare about a fire drill gone wrong! That aside, I’m looking forward to it all.  It’s an opportunity to show our best and to gain insight and observations from an experienced team of educators. I look forward to welcoming the visiting committee on Sunday and to their observations and recommendations. I hope they will help us focus our attention, see things anew and continue to grow, learn and fulfill our mission.

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