by Emily Marston
Middle School teacher
Chair of the Accreditation Steering Committee
Think you know everything that we teachers and staff do at TPS? Teach, advise, create program, write academic reports, pursue professional development, coach sports, give music lessons...
For the past year, while all that has been going on, faculty and staff – with the participation of board members – have undertaken an exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting!) self-study in preparation for a formal reaccreditation visit on October 23-26 by a team from the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS).
PAIS provides member schools with professional peer review every ten years by teachers and administrators from other member schools. Through the accreditation process, schools hold themselves publicly accountable that they meet accepted standards of educational quality, operation, and staff competence. While each school is accredited based on its individual philosophy, the standards provide a consistent and uniform measure by which all schools are evaluated.
The self-study process itself has been a valuable one for us at TPS. Teachers not only dug deep into their own “bailiwicks” but also dove into some administrative topics of which they had little familiarity. We were all active learners! The 198-page-long self-study report (with dozens of additional pages of supporting materials) addresses five main evaluative areas established by PAIS: Organization and Administration, Program, Personnel, Health and Safety, and Physical Plant. With countless hours of conversations, research, and reflection, TPS certainly has a better sense of its strengths, challenges, areas for growth, and priorities for the future.
The faculty and staff look forward to welcoming the PAIS visiting committee on October 23. Led by Jeff Suzik, the director of the Falk Laboratory School in Pittsburgh, the committee is made up of six educators, mostly from preschool-8th grade schools. Their days at TPS will be jam-packed with meetings, classroom observations, and writing. They will be on hand to watch our arrival and dismissal procedures, to attend a Student Council Executive Committee meeting, to travel to The Schuylkill Center, and much more.
I hope everyone will have the opportunity to meet a member of the PAIS committee while they are on campus. The committee has set aside a time to meet informally with parents on Monday, October 24, 8:30-9:30 a.m., in the music room in the Garage. In addition, if you are planning to attend the Parent Coffee on Tuesday, October 25, 8:30-9:30 a.m., a member or two of the committee will be there, as well.
The chair of the visiting committee will personally present the final report to the PAIS Accreditation Commission, which will review the report and recommend accreditation to the PAIS Board of Directors.
I hope that you will join us in welcoming these visitors to our school!