“ESA can look back with gratitude for the many positive changes undertaken by committed educators since the last accreditation visit. Today, ESA is once again at a pivotal moment with tremendous opportunity to step forward as an institution with great potential and high aspirations.”
These are some of the words that open the final report of the ISAS Accreditation Visiting Committee. I just received a letter from the Executive Director of ISAS informing me and the board chair that ESA has been re-accredited by ISAS. Along with that is a 68-page report that details all of the commendations and recommendations made by the Visiting Committee about every aspect of the school. This amazing feedback will be used by divisions, departments and admin teams to evaluate where we headed and how to get there. The accreditation process is a really important touch point for a school. It is all too easy to get so involved in “all things ESA,” that you lose sight of the forest for the trees. Accreditation, when done well, puts everything we are trying to do into a greater context. The first summary commendation says a lot about this place:
1.At the Episcopal School of Acadiana, the Visiting Committee found unified understanding and support of the School culture. ESA students, parents and teachers joyfully articulate and value an educational environment that nurtures connection, independence, discovery, and creativity. Meaningful relationships across the School community are a powerful resource for student development and could provide an opportunity for institutional growth. In this atmosphere of trust and acceptance students flourish.
There is nothing more we can aspire to than being the school described by those sentences, and I am proud of our whole community. There are seven summary commendations that reinforce and support what we are trying to do and what we have done. There are also six summary recommendations. These are big picture recommendations that the school must address over the next few years. I will report on our progress towards these recommendations in our yearly updates and our interim report. I am happy to share these with you but for now, I will share the first recommendation.
1.The Cade property has many wonderful attributes with its unique connection to the land, culture and history, making this campus a beautiful and inspiring setting for an independent school education. With the growth of the student body, increased programming, inadequate classroom space, and building deterioration compounded by deferred maintenance, the Visiting Committee recommends that ESA move expeditiously to complete a detailed and financially viable Master Plan. It is further recommended that the educational needs of students and teachers drive the phased implementation and that the report reflects the urgency felt by some members of the School community.
As most of you probably know, we have been working for about a year and a half on the Cade Campus Master Plan, and it has been completed. I will be sharing this with the whole community this year. It is a beautiful plan that allows us to address the facility issues without changing the character of the campus. In fact, the plan only enhances our “unique connection to the land, culture and history” of this place. It is an exciting time to be part of this incredible learning community! As I wrote to the Board Chair last year in my yearly goals, “there is always much to do, and our list does not really shrink. That is the nature of schools!” It is one of the things I love most about ESA—at every level, we are always striving to become better. Have a restful summer. Arête!