A recent report by the NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) highlights several of Winthrop High School’s strengths and the steps the administration is taking to maintain its accreditation. The voluntary accreditation process is completed every ten years. High School Principal Matt Crombie reviewed the NEASC report at the last School Committee meeting and went into detail about improvements that are being made.
Using specific standards of accreditation, the NEASC conducts school visits and gathers their information by talking to teachers, students and members of the community.
“They immediately recognized the positive culture in the school and they noticed that the staff and students emitted a kind, caring nature and were very obviously invested in the community,” said Crombie.
The results of the recommendation report were broken down into four areas of growth, which will be prioritized before the next visit in 2021.
Vision of Graduate-A written document outlining the vision of a Winthrop High School graduate will be put in place and communicated with all building employees. The current graduate vision will be reenergized and going forward, there will be a more streamlined approach to communicating and branding this vision.
Curriculum-Principal Crombie, Curriculum Director Lori Galvin, and an outside consultant opted to go with a UBD (Understand by Design) format that will require that all curriculum units be rewritten in a uniform format. Staff members started this task in the fall and with the help of the consultant guiding the pace of the project, much progress has been made.
Hiring a Library Media Specialist-As one of the most important recommendations, the need for a library media specialist is necessary for the success of student education. The need to have someone to roll out library media services to all students is critical and a job description is being crafted for the role.
Intervention Strategies-While there is a support team in place to assist with needy students, the NEASC was not confident that the school is using the process efficiently. Since then, the process has been revamped, making it more accessible to teachers and in full capacity to NEASC standards.
According to Crombie, the NEASC also recognized the success of the high school’s Life Skills program, the support of both ELL students and social emotional learners, the school’s dedication to safety protocols, and the state-of-the-art facility.
The next step is to make progress toward the four key issues and work with the NEASC team regularly to stay on the designated timeline. According to Crombie, the NEASC process has changed drastically since 2011, and instead of feeling like an inspection, it now feels like a collaboration geared toward bettering the school and quality of education. Part of the process is the self-evolution of staff members, which has proven to help with the growth of the culture and the way educators teach.
“For teachers and staff to spend time on evaluating themselves, it’s incredible to see what comes out of it. Everyone in the building has been on board with this. I’ve been impressed with how everyone has responded to it. Having these conversations will ultimately move students forward in a positive direction.”
The process of accreditation has allowed the school to have a new vision and focus, one that was overshadowed by the building of the new school in years past. As part of the 2021 visit, the NEASC will provide evidence-based evaluations based on their direct observations in the classrooms and communication with the students and parents.
“I think the culture that this process brings in terms of professionalism as an organization, is that you are all working together to improve teaching and learning so it’s not about the body of the building anymore, it’s about what’s happening in the building,” said School Superintendent Lisa Howard. “The UBD work that’s being done now allows teachers in subgroups in their department to get together and really focus in on a document that was built by the people who are doing the teaching for our students. This laser focus will improve teaching and learning that highlights the work that the professionals are doing to make it not just a physically beautiful place but a place we can be proud of.”