Making the Grade

One of the most powerful ways to educate our youth is by modeling expectations. "Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying." Most of us have heard Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote in one variation or another, but our students, our children, instinctively seem to recognize what it means to "be" the words we say. Our teachers work to model relationships, and at any given time there are a number of them taking college classes while working on advanced degrees. We know the lesson is lost when we insist they, "do as we say, and not as I we do."

We know this lesson is just as important as a school. For everyone who invests their time, sweat, and money into Harding Fine Arts Academy we know how important it is to not just say what we believe, but to work tirelessly to make sure what we do reflects our mission: preparing student for college in an academically challenging, arts-integrated environment

This month HFAA completed an intensive year-long reaccreditation process with AdvancED©, an international education accreditation organization. This was a process of intensive self-reflection, pouring over data, and an external review that the school goes through only once every five years. Last week we hosted a team of education professionals as they assessed every aspect of HFAA. Together, that team of seven held 14 advanced degrees and a combined total of 146 years’ experience in every level of public, private and university education.

There are five vigorous standards Harding Fine Arts Academy must meet to be accredited with AdvancED©:

Standard 1: Purpose and Direction

Standard 2: Governance and Leadership

Standard 3: Teaching and Assessing for Learning

Standard 4: Resources and Support Systems

Standard 5: Using Results for Continuous Improvement

 They looked at our results, scoured our documentation, and interviewed board member, parents, staff, students, and teachers, because they believe what we do speaks more loudly than what we say.

I am proud to say HFAA made the grade. Although grueling, this process is intended to remind us where we excel, help us refocus on what we do well, and provide guidance in areas that will support our growth going into the future. The team praised our teachers for their commitment to student engagement and success. They celebrated HFAA’s focus on learning and high expectations, instead of simply teaching to a test. And they worked with us to refine direction for the next five years.

This is a team effort and I would be remised if I didn’t thank our faculty and staff who practice what they preach, our board with visionary expectations and support, our parents who demand the best from both us and their children, our community partners who know we can’t do this alone, and Dr. Rowan who spent countless hours out of retirement. Who we are together speaks so loudly!

 

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