Harrisburg Academy welcomed three independent school administrators on Wednesday, Feb. 13 to complete our five-year Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS) accreditation visit. It was a chance for the Academy to receive feedback on the progress made since the last accreditation visit in 2008, when recommendations were made for the Academy to consider as programming develops and improves. This outside feedback is valuable to our school because it is generated from educational professionals at peer institutions, and it focuses on best practices in independent school education. Faculty and staff at the Academy drafted a 49-page document, which was presented to the visitation team, chronicling the progress made since the last accreditation visit (much of which substantiates the unique advantages of an Academy education). The feedback from this visit is valuable as it continues to provide unbiased evaluation of our progress in a number of areas.
One of the major areas that has been addressed since the last visit was the creation of a curriculum map. The curriculum map offers a detailed description of what is taught in our preschool-through-12th grade classrooms, the essential questions asked, the skills developed, and the outcomes achieved. An up-to-date curriculum map exists for each academic discipline at the Academy. The documentation allows teachers to compare courses within their departments (as well as in other disciplines) and examine what skills are introduced at different ages. Teachers are continuously updating their curriculum maps as they modify lessons or add material.
Just as a group of independent school administrators visited the Academy, our own administrative team has helped other schools through their accreditation process. In the past two years, Bob Bell, Kevin Muirhead, Virginia Getz, Jessica Warren, and Jim Newman have all served on visitation teams. In visiting other schools, we can share our experiences as well as gain new insights from independent schools across the state. Jim Newman currently serves on the PAIS Accreditation Committee, which reviews each individual school’s accreditation materials.
The initial feedback from the visitation team was quite positive, and I look forward to sharing highlights of their feedback later this spring. The group did remark that the Academy has made significant progress over the past five years and has much of which to be proud — and we are! Our entire community should share in the celebration of these accolades and what they mean to our students and the dynamic education they are receiving.