Our Stories

Re-accreditation Process: Report on the AIMS Team Visit This Week

May 19, 2016 by Naomi Reem (Faculty and Staff)

On Sunday afternoon, eleven educational leaders came to JPDS-NC to start an intensive three-day visit to our school, a significant step in our school’s re-accreditation process for the Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools (AIMS). They visited every classroom and observed every teacher. They met with administrators, parents, trustees, and the Mo’etzet Hatalmidim (Student Council). They poured over our curriculum materials, financial records, blog posts, Ru’ach Campaign statistics, and admission folders. They read our parent survey, board minutes, emergency plans, and faculty evaluations. They carefully watched our procedures for arrival, dismissal, fire drills, and lock-down drills. They spent three days evaluating whether our school’s mission and philosophy are ingrained in every aspect of school life and in every corner of the two campuses. By Wednesday morning, having gained insight into school life and getting to know many students, faculty, administrators, parents, and community members, the AIMS team shared their enthusiasm and praise for the school.

The cycle started over a year ago, with goal of granting us another ten years of being an AIMS Accredited School, a “seal of approval” from our peers in independent education. And as the AIMS organization notes, “because the quality of a child’s education is at stake, there are no shortcuts to gaining accreditation by AIMS.”

The accreditation team was composed of Heads of Schools, Business Officers, Division Directors, and top educators from other independent schools who volunteered their time and expertise to help us take an in-depth look at every aspect of our school. The visit followed an exhaustive self-study by the school that reflected on all aspects of the curricula, teaching methods, administration, operations, engagement with various school constituencies, and an evaluation of how our school’s mission informs every aspect of school life, among other critical areas.

After the visit, the Chair of the team, Ben Shiffrin, the Head of School of Jemicy School in Baltimore, and Liz Baker, Team Vice Chair and Head of School of GreenMount School, also in Baltimore, met with faculty and administrators to give us a brief account of the teams’ impressions. We were delighted to hear their words of praise for JPDS-NC and would like to share those with our parent community. With the permission of the Chair of the team and the leadership of AIMS, we will be allowed share the video of the debrief at our Annual Meeting and Volunteer Appreciation evening, on June 8 in the Gottesman Auditorium (North Campus).

The AIMS Accreditation team is also working on an official team report that will be presented to the AIMS Commission on Accreditation, and will likely be sent to us this summer. The report will consist of summaries of the team’s observations, commendations, and recommendations. As part of the accreditation process, after receiving the AIMS team report, the school will need to craft a detailed Action Plan in response to the recommendations and submit it by March 1. Once the AIMS Board of Trustees’ approves the Action Plan, our accreditation will be renewed for ten years, with a mid-point check in five years.

A process as intense as this one must be shepherded and brought to conclusion by many people. The writing of the Self-Study involved all faculty members and administrators, as well as trustees. Coordinating the visit involved many logistical arrangements. And carving the time for the faculty to engage in dialogue, thought, reflection, and writing necessitated a few professional days in which children were not at school. Thank you to all teachers, administrators, and trustees who participated in this effort, and thank you to the families for their patience when school was closed to allow us to do this important work. I want to especially thank the Co-Chairs of the JPDS-NC Committee who coordinated the completion of the Self-Study, Laura Cohen, Janet Collier, and Lisa Schopf, and the critical assistance of Halema Baxter, Miranda Chadwick, and Hannah Seidel in all logistical matters.

We invite you to see the video of the AIMS team debrief at our Annual Meeting and Volunteer Appreciation evening, on June 8 in the Gottesman Auditorium (North Campus). Please join us to hear more about the accreditation process, the state of the school, and our future plans, as well as to recognize outgoing trustees and to be appreciated as a volunteer!