It’s hard to believe we are already beginning the spring semester, and how quickly the holiday season seemed to come and go. Several of our veteran faculty and staff are reminded how quickly the last five years have come and gone. This year HFAA has been working through its 5-year reaccreditation with AdvancED, the world's largest international education accreditation organization.
It is an ongoing process of meeting standards, engaging in continuous improvement, and demonstrating quality assurance. Over the holiday break, we prepared documentation for our upcoming External Review by AdvancED. This documentation included our Self-Assessment, Improvement Plan, Student Performance Diagnostic, and Stakeholder Feedback reports. In effect, it is, for us educators, a mountain of self-reflection of what we do well and where we are challenged. Most importantly, the process identifies the steps we have taken and the steps we will take toward excellence
In pulling together the Executive Summary (a description of HFAA) there was a final section that asked for additional information. I had already talked about our mission (Oklahoma A+, arts-integration, challenging academics) but nowhere had there been a place to share about our community or provide a glimpse of our hopes. I saw it mentioned in our surveys countless times by students, parents, and teachers. I can’t help but see this sense of community and shared optimism to be a powerful part of our students’ success, so when I submitted those final pages it included the following:
"In some ways Harding Fine Arts Academy is like any other public school. We want the best for our students and their futures. We desire fulfillment in our chosen profession. We’re overtaxed for time, and too often underfunded. Yet, there is an unquestionable difference between HFAA and almost any other school. When asked what those differences, are you will repeatedly hear from students and parents that it’s the sense of community, it’s the faculty and staff’s commitment and compassion, and it’s the arts being given equal footing with academics and high expectations for both. We are guiding students toward more than standardized exams; we are preparing them to take ownership of their futures. We do this in a supportive environment that holds them accountable to their ability to achieve. We endeavor to fashion life-long learners, inspire future community leaders, shape innovative business owners, mold creative thinkers, and foster artists and patrons of their craft. We are more than just a school; we are a community of learners actively engaged in life."
Education is like no other industry. Our product is each child’s future; our pride in a job done well is their success; our legacy is a life transformed. HFAA continues to build its reputation one graduate at a time, and we’re excited to share that with the AdvancED team this February.
I can’t help but think through the lens of our accreditation this new year that resolutions are a product, not a promise. Resolve is reflected in a collection of steps taken, not simply in good intentions. So as we look to a new year and semester I challenge you not to promise, but to produce. Produce so that when the seasons change again you find yourself actively engaged in your life.
Best wishes for a prosperous year!