The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) has reaccredited Sandwich High School, commending the school for excellence in 79 specific areas and making 32 recommendations for improvements.
The process to become accredited included a two-year self-study supervised by Sandwich High School principal Dr. Ellin Booras and four other members, followed by a site visit by a committee of 16 evaluators, which happened in October.
These committees are trained to evaluate schools based on seven standards: core values and beliefs, curriculum, instruction, assessment of and for student learning, school culture and leadership, school resources for learning, and community resources for learning. The final evaluation report was received in April 2014.
“We’re flattered by the commendations, but the recommendations are just as energizing,” said Dr. Booras of the report, which places emphasis on the ability of the school to gather student data from various assessments and yet challenges them in regard to what to do with that data. “All of the goals we’ve been given are timely and manageable.”
The praise the school received was based on its core values, curriculum, commitment to 21st century learning, expertise of teachers, rubric use, a successful senior mentor program, school pride among students and staff, and the implementation of the STEM Academy, according to the report.
Among the recommendations are development of a plan to provide sustainable library resources, ensuring that all teachers are effectively using technology to support instruction, development of school-wide performance goals, and building repairs such as the pool and window sill projects.
With some of the building repairs already underway, Dr. Booras is confident that the list of recommendations can be easily tackled. “I don’t disagree with any of the recommendations. They provide a blueprint for our school improvement planning,” Dr. Booras said. Just because the school has already met the NEASC standards for accreditation does not mean that the process is over. “We’re already now in the next phase and working on 2023.”
Dr. Booras has great pride in her school, her students, and what they have demonstrated that they are capable of. “Social media has helped equalize the students and they have achieved a new level of mutual respect,” Dr. Booras said. Bringing education and school pride into the 21st century has included a school presence on social media sites such as Twitter and school-wide participation in the annual lip dub, which is posted to YouTube. Dr. Booras has made it her mission to make her school a “cool place to be a good kid.” Based on the commendations the school, students, and teachers just received, it appears that her efforts have been successful.