Dear Harbor Families,
“I am so excited about accreditation!”, said no one ever? Well, not exactly. I definitely made that exclamation several times this week, and whether or not it was explicitly stated by others, it was most certainly the feeling in our building!
For the past three days, Harbor has been bustling with energy and excitement (even more than usual), while hosting a visiting team from the Association of Independent Schools in Maryland (AIMS), who is charged with recommending re-accreditation for the school. The visit was the culminating experience of our year-long self study, where as a faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees, we reflected on all aspects of our school - from teaching and learning to the fine details of the business office, and everything in between. This has been an intense process and deeply validating of our daily work in our very special school.
We are indebted to our visiting team, who offered perspectives from the roles as heads, division head, admissions director, and business officer of small schools in the Maryland/DC area. The team spent three days away from their schools and families in service to Harbor, working around the clock and late into the evening in their hotel conference room, detailing their findings after full days at Harbor where they had conversations with faculty and staff, members of the Board and HSPA, and students, conducted classroom observations, and dove deeply into all 146 pages of our self-study report.
The tone of the visit throughout all three days was warm, supportive, and collegial. I heard, over and over, from faculty members and the visiting team how much they enjoyed the in-depth conversations and collegial support as we explored every aspect of our school. Commitment, professionalism, and pride for our school has been a common theme throughout the week - and rightly so.
Yesterday, the visiting team chair addressed the faculty and staff at the end of the day, noting some of the impressions the team had during their visit this week. I'm sure it won't surprise you that the team was very impressed with our program and school community! Dr. Parker told us what we already know but is wonderful to hear - that in every conversation, observation, and interaction, it was clear to our visitors that we “live and breathe our mission at Harbor” - that we truly embrace the uniqueness of each young child and teach them to celebrate this in themselves and in each other.
Over the coming weeks, the visiting team chair will be fine-tuning the report and will submit it to the AIMS accreditation council for an official endorsement and re-accreditation of the school. The report will include commendations and recommendations, in line with our self-study report, which will create the framing for an action plan that we will present to AIMS after its development in the fall. Then, our next visit will take place in five years, for a review of the progress on our goals.
On Monday morning before the visit began, I wrote to the faculty and in my email, noted that it is quite fitting that this week of re-accreditation is congruent with Teacher Appreciation Week. As we all know, the success of our school, and the growth and development of our students, is directly because of our excellent teachers. (And we have been spoiled this week by our HSPA and Board with treats and notes of appreciation - thank you all for that!) I know you join me in deep gratitude for all that our teachers do each day for our kids!
Head of School