March 23, 2017
Earlier this year at our Open School evenings, I spoke about the fact that we would be going through our decennial re-accreditation with the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS) this year. We take our status as an accredited institution with NJAIS very seriously. Therefore, in order for this visit and evaluation to be as successful and meaningful as possible, it's important that everyone in our community - students, faculty and parents - fully understand what this process entails and means for our school.
Over the past 18 months, we have been engaged in creating an intensive and highly-detailed Self-Study Report. As the title suggests, this process examines all of the key areas of our school and community to assess how we are doing, reviewing our successes and identifying areas we would like to improve upon. We have spent time thinking and answering some detailed, standards-based questions about our mission, school governance structure, academic program, technology plan, school finance and facilities. Additionally, we have had the opportunity to reflect on our mission as a religiously-affiliated, independent school. The creation of this final document (which will be submitted to NJAIS just before Pesach) has been an incredibly collaborative process. Under the direction of our Accreditation Steering Committee Co-Chairs Gail Shapiro (Director of Admissions & Outreach) and Karen Spector (Lower School Assistant Principal), our entire faculty and staff - along with our administrative team and members of our Board of Trustees - have been involved in the creation of this report. We feel confident that our hard work, along with the responses we have received from our parent and student surveys throughout the year, will provide NJAIS a comprehensive view of our school and the work that we are doing here.
With this background information in mind, it is also important to let you know the next steps for our re-accreditation. First and foremost, please mark your calendars for May 9-12, 2017, when the visiting accreditation team will be here at Golda Och Academy. The accreditation team will be made up of approximately seven teachers and administrators from other NJAIS accredited schools here in New Jersey who will be present on both campuses during those days. Their visit will include observing our classrooms and interviewing teachers, students, staff and lay leaders. It is their plan, and our hope, that they will see all of the many incredible aspects of school life in action - both inside and outside of the classroom - and we look forward to seeing their final report at the end of their visit.
We have been honest and reflective and eagerly await feedback and thoughts on our strengths and areas of change. Ultimately, we look forward to using this report from NJAIS to generate the next strategic plan for our school. Over the last year, we have dedicated ourselves to working towards the goal of re-accreditation, and I truly want to thank our staff, faculty and parent body for their collaboration and cooperation. We are confident that this visit and subsequent report will go a long way towards making our school an even stronger and more dynamic place.