Every ten years, Haverford, like all independent schools, engages in the accreditation process to continue operations. Head of Information Services Ms. Lisa Snyder and Assistant Head of School Mr. Mark Thorburn lead Haverford’s preparations for the accreditation procedure, which culminates in a three-day visit from a team of educators from the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS).
While the PAIS team’s visit only lasts three days, Ms. Snyder and Mr. Thorburn began preparing for the accreditation a year in advance by engaging in a self-study process.
“We examine our practices, our processes, our facilities, personnel, financial health, and more. It is a full-scale review, designed to help us make sure that we are doing what we say we are doing. Are we educating boys for life?” Ms. Snyder said.
While the full self-study was taxing for Ms. Snyder and Mr. Thorburn, Head of School Mr. Tyler Casertano said that the process was aided by the work already done by the school’s 2019 Strategic Planning Committee, which outlined the school’s goals for the years 2020-2025.
“A lot of the things that bubbled up in the self-study were things that had also come to life in the strategic planning process,” Mr. Casertano said. “A fair amount of it was consistent, focusing on our identity as a boys’ school and what that means in terms of our philosophy, our pedagogy and program, the culture here at Haverford, and how that reinforces the virtues that we use to drive everything we do here,” Mr. Casertano said.
Further, the opportunity to engage in self-study was an educational experience for the administration.
“[The self-study] was hugely educational for me as somebody who still is very much learning [Haverford],” Mr. Casertano said.
They learn as much as they can about our program and all of the ways we support itMr. Tyler casertano
While preparing for and hosting a large group from around the state is certainly challenging, Mr. Casertano thinks that the PAIS team’s week-long visit went well.
“With huge thanks to Ms. Snyder and Mr. Thorburn, it was a smooth process. They put a tremendous amount of work not just into the self-study but into the event planning to make sure that the experience was as engaging, organized, and efficient as possible for the team,” he said.
From October 24-27, the PAIS team was on campus to observe the school’s regular functions and meet with a variety of people.
“They [met] with all of the School’s major stakeholders: Mr. Casertano, administrators, teachers, students, parents, and board members. They learn as much as they can about our program and all of the ways we support it,” Ms. Snyder said.
The PAIS team connected with both Haverford students and parents in a panel setting and asked questions about the school’s community life, academic program, and areas for potential improvement to complete their assessment of the school as a whole.
At the end of their three days on campus, the PAIS team presented the preliminary results of their examination to Haverford administrators. While none of that information is finalized, Mr. Casertano noted that the accreditation team presented the school with eight commendations and eight recommendations.
“The commendations began with the quality of the faculty, the quality of the program, and the quality of the students here,” Mr. Casertano said. “They right away saw a group of students that are deeply committed to The Haverford School, who believe in the virtues and recognize the importance of the virtues, who see themselves as something larger in this community and who really do buy in. And they quickly recognized the talent and commitment of our teachers.”