As a member of the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), AOS takes part in an accreditation process every ten years. We began the process in the spring of 2019 with the plan for completion in the spring of 2020. However, the pandemic caused unexpected disruptions, and we did not complete the process until the spring of 2021.
The accreditation process began with an extensive self-study in which faculty, staff, parents, students, and alumni participated. The creation of the self-study provided the opportunity for our community to reflect on our mission and evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. Through the process, we recommitted as a community to the educational and ethical standards set by the Association, to the AOS mission itself, and to self-improvement.
Following the self-study, a visiting committee composed of educators and administrators from peer ISAS schools conducted an accreditation visit. During this visit, the Visiting Committee assessed the accuracy of our self-study, evaluated the effectiveness of our programs, measured the concurrence of those programs with our mission, and made recommendations to assist in our continued improvement.
The Visiting Committee was able to view classes, meet with faculty and staff, and take virtual tours of the school all remotely. Although they were not physically present on campus, the committee members all attested that they could feel the agape of AOS radiating through their computer screens. Our Visiting Committee Chairperson, Julie McLeod of the Good Shepherd School in Dallas, noted in her final report that “our school’s work was nothing short of exceptional, organization masterful, documentation thoughtful and thorough, and the administration, faculty and staff are forthright, generous, and collegial.” The Visiting Committee provided several commendations, many centered around the dedicated individuals who make AOS a welcoming home to our students. They noted that students felt loved by faculty and fellow classmates, and likewise, faculty and staff showed a passion for their fields and their roles in the development of children. The AOS leadership team was commended for creating a positive environment where all current members of the community feel a sense of belonging, and where new members quickly feel supported. Additionally, the Committee recognized AOS’ diverse community, noting our consistent commitment to celebrating the cultural heritages and religious backgrounds of all AOS students. The recommendations AOS received were aligned with our self-study, much of which is also supported by our current strategic plan. These recommendations will propel us forward for the next ten years.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2021 issue of The Delphian.