"Because of its unique characteristics, Woodstock School is meeting its avowed objectives with greater intensity and perhaps greater success than most American public schools."
Such was the conclusion of the first Middle States Association Visiting Committee in 1959 when Woodstock became the first school outside the USA to be accredited in Asia and the third in the world. The move was initiated by the Board of Directors who rightly thought it was important that students seeking admission to US colleges and universities come from an accredited high school.
Every decade since then has witnessed this intense self-evaluation, compiling of reports and the hosting of the Visiting Committee. And we are at it again.
Starting with the staff retreat in July 1997 when small groups worked on what should be included in various statements (mission, educational beliefs, desired learning outcomes), three committees were organized to develop the final versions. As the statements evolved, they were periodically evaluated through questionnaires completed by staff, students,'parents and the Board.
During the February 1998 staff retreat an additional series of small committees was organized to cover every aspect of school life. All staff and a good number of students serve on these 35 committees, whose job it is to analyze their assigned area, access strengths and weaknesses, and to develop strategies for improvement. Many committees have taken the opportunity to ask the school community to evaluate their services and effectiveness through opinionnaires.
The steering committee meets weekly to review the progress of the working committees. Reports are submitted for review and feasibility study. The goal is to complete the School Improvment Plan by December 1999 for distribution to the Visiting Committee. The Committee will visit Woodstock the spring, 1999.
Two staff are working nearly full-time to organize the self-review. This is the seventh accreditation review for Russ Erickson, a former teacher and principal in a number of international schools. Jack Hinz, Administrative Assistant to the Principal, was in university administration before coming to Woodstock. A further commitment is in time: on Tuesdays classes are delayed until 10:30 AM in order that staff/student committees can meet.
White adding to the duties and responsibilities of staff, Mr. Hinz notes that the process has been "good for the community. It is giving everyone an opportunity to participate, to express their opinions, to have ownership--to be more of a partner in shaping and guiding the Woodstock venture."
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