Meeting accreditation goals requires planning

Things will be different at diocesan schools this year.

Now that they’ve achieved accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the hard work really begins, said Sandra Leatherwood.

Leatherwood, director for elementary education, Jacqualine Kasprowski, associate director for secondary education, and Sister Pamela Smith, diocesan secretary of education, spoke to The Miscellany about the top four areas that need to be addressed:

Hire a superintendent. This can be checked off the list with the restructuring of the schools office.

Create a comprehensive professional growth plan that will target the most critical diocesan needs. School leaders said all schools need to be on the same page in areas such as technology.

Evaluate and redevelop technology programs. Even schools that have sufficient technology may not be using it as effectively as they could, Sister Pam said. For example, she said classrooms can employ social media, such as connecting face to face on a global level for lessons.

Create a long-range financial plan that addresses marketing needs and fair salaries for all. The diocese would like schools to be more equitable in terms of funding, grants and partnerships.

Kasprowski said it is their responsibility to break the accreditation report down to the school level and how it applies to each. Individual schools have specific needs that the diocesan office will help address, plus each one has already formed their own improvement plan to tackle weaknesses and bolster strengths.

A strong Catholic identity was a highlight for all the schools.

In addition to the four goals and individual improvement, diocesan schools will continue to teach skills that may seem archaic in today’s world but are still necessary.

Leaders cited examples such as nice penmanship, the ability to hold a verbal conversation, and critical thinking skills. The last is especially relevant in teaching students how to have a discerning mind when it comes to information on the  Internet.

The diocese has two years to address the recommendations.