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    MSA Accreditation

    We have received a draft Final Report from Middle States Association for our school’s re-accreditation until 2023. Thus, we are working on putting together our Strategic Plan for the 12 areas of school operations: Mission, Governance & Leadership, School Improvement Planning, Finances, Facilities, School Organization & Staff, Health & Safety, Educational Programs, Assessment & Evidence of Student Learning, Student Services, Student Life & Student Activities and Information Resources. In parallel, our work on the 4 Action Plans for English Language Literacy, World Languages and Cultures, Student Services and Information & Communications Technology continue.

     

    Dear Pinewood Families,

    This week, we host our accreditation visiting team from Middle States Association, the body in charge of the re-accreditation process for Pinewood. While they are visiting our school, they will be observing the daily operations of school life as well as speaking with Board members, teachers, students and parents.

    Specifically for parents, they have arranged for a parent meeting on Wednesday, November 4 at 15:00 in the Library. Thus, I invite you to attend this informal meeting with the accreditation team to share your experiences at Pinewood. I encourage you to participate as our parent voices are an important component of both the re-accreditation process and for growth and improvement.

    In addition, I would like to invite you to attend the final short oral report which will be delivered on Thursday, November 5 from 11:00 – 12:00 in the gymnasium. At this time, the Visiting Team members will present initial findings from their visit with our school.

    Please see brief descriptions of each team member below. I hope to see you on Wednesday & Thursday!

    Ms. Joanne Reykdal, Visiting Team Chairperson
    Ms. Reykdal has taught chemistry and mathematics for many years in the USA, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. In addition, she has served in leadership roles in Kuwait, Italy and Spain. Currently, she is the Lower School Principal at the American School of Madrid in Spain.

    Ms. Ainhoa Martin-Chico
    Ms. Martin-Chico has worked in administration for more than 10 years in Spain, Belgium and Ireland. After this, she took her Early Childhood Montessori training and began teaching children in a 3-6 mixed aged classroom. Currently, she is the Office Manager and Children’s House Coordinator at the Madrid Montessori School in Spain.

    Dr. Don Francis
    An educator for 20 years, Dr. Francis has taught and held leadership roles in many diverse schools, including on Native American reservations, rural farming districts and in South America. Currently, he is the Director of Awsaj Academy in Doha, Qatar.

    Ms. Sarah Wampler
    Ms. Wampler has held numerous international positions at public and private schools in London, Frankfurt and the Bahamas. She has worked mainly with children from ages 3-8 and is currently teaching Kindergarten at the American School of Milan in Italy.

    Thank you,

    Dr. Roxanne Giampapa
    Director

    I am delighted to report that thefull self-study and four action plans have been sent to MSA and the Chair of the visiting team in preparation for the upcoming visiting team visit on November 2-5. Thus, we now begin preparations for the team visit.

    The visiting team will consist of educators from other international schools from around the world. Our visiting team, who will validate our self-study and action plans, is made up of the following members:

     

    • Ms. Joanne Reykdal, Chairperson
    • Dr. Donald Fancis

    American School of Madrid

    Madrid, Spain   

    Awsaj Institute of Education

    Doha, Qatar

    • Ms. Ainhoa Martin-Chico  
    • Sarah Wampler

    Madrid Montessori School

    Madrid, Spain

    American School of Milan

    Milan, Italy

    As a reminder, the accreditation protocol through which we are being evaluated is called Excellence by Design (EbD). This is a protocol that uses strategic planning as a vehicle for growth and improvement in student performance and in the school’s capacity to effect that growth. The hallmark of the EbD protocol is that it provides for continuous review of programs and services and of the results of student performance throughout the accreditation period (7 years).

    EbD has led Pinewood to establish 4 objectives for improving student performance and organizational capacity based on our vision for the future.

    These objectives, which are detailed more completely on the MSA Accreditation page of the website, are related to the following areas:

    • English Language Literacy
    • World Languages and Cultures
    • Information and Communication Technology
    • Student Services

     

    Last year, with the cooperation of representatives from all constituents, we completed a full year self-study related to all areas of school operations. The results of our self-study will be sent this month to our accrediting body, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in preparation for a visiting team of educational professionals this year. The carefully selected MSA validating team will visit Pinewood on November 2–5, 2015. At this time, they will examine all areas of Pinewood operations and present a recommended accreditation status to MSA.

    As a reminder, the accreditation protocol through which we are being evaluated is called Excellence by Design (EbD). This is a protocol that uses strategic planning as a vehicle for growth and improvement in student performance and in the school’s capacity to effect that growth. The hallmark of the EbD protocol is that it provides for continuous review of programs and services and of the results of student performance throughout the accreditation period (7 years).

    EbD has led Pinewood to establish 4 objectives for improving student performance and organizational capacity based on our vision for the future.

    These objectives, which are detailed more completely on the MSA Accreditation page of the website, are related to the following areas:

    • English Language Literacy
    • World Languages and Cultures
    • Information and Communication Technology
    • Student Services

     

    Our Accreditation Action Plan Teams, who are responsible for developing 7-year Action Plans for each objective, are busy preparing their working documents to provide direction regarding the steps to be taken to achieve our objectives. Look for further details about each objective as they are developed by the Action Plan Teams. When the self-study is complete, our school will host a Visiting Team for 3.5 days, who will validate what we have presented in our self-study. This team will make an accreditation recommendation to the Commission of the Middle States Association and a final decision will be made by the Commission thereafter at their biannual meeting. Our visit is scheduled for November 2-5, 2015.

     

    Last month, the Planning Team presented the following topics to be the focus of our long-term objectives for Pinewood school growth and improvement (now stated in more detail):

    Student Performance Objectives:

    English Language Literacy
    By the year 2022, students at Pinewood American International will demonstrate improved academic achievement in the area of English Language literacy as measured by…

    World Languages and Cultures
    By the year 2022, students at Pinewood American International School will demonstrate improved academic achievement in at least one L2 language (second language other than English) and exhibit an understanding and knowledge of world cultures as measured by…

    Organizational Capacity Objectives:

    Information and Communication Technology
    By the year 2022, Pinewood American International School will improve its organizational capacity in the area of information and communication technology to support teaching, learning and development as measured by…

    Student Services
    In the context of facilitating the right of all students to an education that develops their “personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential” (United Nations CRC, Article 29), Pinewood will significantly increase its capacity as an inclusive school that promotes cooperation among its stakeholders in the development, utilization and maintenance of its Student Support Services. Through supporting each student’s individual need, the school aims to build an inclusive school environment as measured by…

    On behalf of the Planning Team, I am delighted to share that these objectives have been officially approved by Middle States Association in the First Technical Review; thus, we have been given the green light to move forward to the next phase of the self-study.

    The ellipses (…) at the end of each statement denote that there are specific measurements that will be used to mark our growth and improvement. These measurements are being examined in the next phase of the self-study process.

    The next phase is the organization of teams for each of the four objectives. These teams, named Action Plan Teams (see list of teams on the right), will be responsible for developing 7-year Action Plans for each objective. These Action Plans will be the point of contact between vision and reality. They are the bridges to our future as they will describe the methods the school will use to accomplish its goals. These Action Plans are working documents that provide direction regarding the work that is to be done to achieve our objectives. Look for further details about each objective as they are developed by the Action Plan Teams.

    Also, when the self-study is complete, our school will host a Visiting Team for 3.5 days, who will validate what we have presented in our self-study. This team will make an accreditation recommendation to the Commission of the Middle States Association and a final decision will be made by the Commission thereafter at one of their biannual meetings.

    Our visit is scheduled for November 2-5, 2015.

     

    The Accreditation Planning Team, made up of administration, faculty, staff, parents, students and alumni, is the team responsible for developing measurable objectives from the all collected documents from the self-study. As such, the Planning Team is excited to present the following topics to be the focus of our long-term objectives for Pinewood school growth and improvement:

    • Student Performance Objectives:
      English Language Literacy
      World Languages and Cultures
    • Organizational Capacity Objectives:
      Technology
      Student Services

     

    Thank you to each member of the 12 Standards Committees, whose work on the different areas of school improvement has been an integral part of the re-accreditation self-study process.

     12 STANDARDS COMMITTEE

     

    Roxanne Giampapa, Chair
    Ian Harrington
    Maria Kling
    Costas Kois
    Athena Yannoulis
    Galini Poimenidou

     

    Roxanne Giampapa, Chair
    Konstantina Kapanidou
    Annie Michaelidis
    Dimitris Terzidis
    Nikos Tsachtanis
    Filiana Zafeiriadou
    Jose Neira

     

    Nikos Tsachtanis, Chair
    Dimitra Bentioulis
    Patrick Ersgard*
    Niki Tzivanaki
    Cathy van der Har
    Makis Veroplidis
    Dan Isaidis*

     

    Clare Squires, Chair
    Petroula Rosiou
    Vicky Tzima
    Niki Tzivanaki
    Dr. Maria Martou
    Peter Pantis

     

    Linda Kainz, Chair

    Fay Castling
    Tao McCarthy
    Liza Tziatas
    Clare Squires
    Ernesto Villalba
    Konstantinos Chryssoulas

     

    Nikos Tsachtanis, Chair
    Kingsley Johnson
    Christina Pagidou
    Iordanis Paschalidis
    Gundega Smite
    Smaragda Spyrou
    Andrea Arivella

     

    Georgia Paliouris, Chair
    Nikos Margaropoulos
    Amalia Spiliakou
    Nikos Tsachtanis
    Susan Bustamante
    Penelopi Lepida

     

    Dimitris Terzidis, Chair
    Thanasis Chrysoulas
    Pavlina Harisiadou
    Smaro Kyrimi
    Katerina Tsaloumi

     

    Costas Kois, Chair
    Sophia Konstantinidou
    Tammy Mizas
    George Papakostas
    Francesca Petetoner

     

    Monica Varsakopoulos, Chair
    Linda Manney
    Anna Maria Mathias
    Soula Mitakidou
    Dimitra Lentova
    Maria Poimenidou

     

    Linda Kainz, Chair
    Emily Johnson
    Evie Kota
    Alina Tavlaridou
    Caroline Tzimoulis
    Aliza Zagorianos
    Arina Kocherga

     

    Dimitris Terzidis, Chair
    Helen Dalakas
    Natalie Pinakidou
    Marsha Shkurina
    Rodica Cojocaru
    Katrin Nalbantova
    Dimitris Spyrou

     

    The re-accreditation self-study continues to be the most important focus of administration and faculty. Phase V, next phase, involves creating 3-5 objectives that will be the focus for the school’s growth and improvement over the next 7 years. The Planning Team, with the support of the Board of Directors and the community, is charged with defining these objectives. This phase will be developed and implemented by the creation of new committees for each objective. There are two types of objectives that must be created as follows:

    • Student Performance Objectives: These are measurable objectives that focus on areas of academic performance, broadly defined to include all knowledge, skills and qualities/characteristics that the school sets as a priority in its mission and profile of graduates.
    • Organizational Capacity Objectives: These are measurable objectives that include all aspects of the school’s educational program, services and operations whose purpose is to provide the means by which and support for the school’s efforts to produce the levels of student performance expressed in the mission and profile of graduates.

     

    The re-accreditation self-study is well under way with 12 standards committees completing their work for the Profile of Organizational Capacity (Phase IV) by Friday, February 20. The next phase is to determine the 3-5 objectives that will be the focus for the school’s growth and improvement over the next 7 years. The Planning Team, with the support of the Board of Directors and the community, is charged with defining these objectives. This phase will be developed and implemented by the creation of new committees for each objective. More information will follow as this next phase begins.

     

    Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredits schools across the United States and in more than 85 countries around the world. The requirements for accreditation are strict and involve concentrated self-study years wherein the school reflects upon what it is doing and where it wants to be in the future. At present, Pinewood is in the middle of the self-study, which is guided by a protocol termed “Excellence by Design (EbD).” The EbD protocol leads schools to establish 3–5 measurable objectives for improving student performance and organizational capacity based on its vision of a preferred future for its students.

    Pinewood’s self-study process involves 7 PHASES as follows:

    • PHASE I: OVERVIEW OF THE SELF-STUDY
      This phase involves the appointment of key committees, preparation of surveys and the organization of the self-study into a manageable timeframe. (complete)
       
    • PHASE II: LAYING THE FOUNDATION
      This phase involves a review, revision and reaffirmation of the school’s foundational documents, including the mission, vision, philosophy, values and profile of graduates. (almost complete)
       
    • PHASE III: DEVELOPING A PROFILE OF THE SCHOOL
      In this phase, a committee gathers data on the demographics of the school and its community as well as data related to student performance. Studying this data helps clarify targets for student performance goals. (in progress)
       
    • PHASE IV: PROFILE OF ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY
      In this phase, subcommittees composed of various stakeholders focus on the data gathered from the surveys in 12 standard areas of school organization. These subcommittees assess data; identify strengths, areas of improvement and recommendations. (in progress)
       
    • PHASE V: DEVELOPING A PLAN
      The Planning Team develops 3–5 measurable goals, at least two of which must be focused on improving student performance. Appointed committees develop action plans for each goal and follow their progress in succeeding years. (not started)
       
    • PHASE VI: ACHIEVING & MAINTAINING ACCREDITATION
      When the self-study is complete, Pinewood hosts a Visiting Team, typically for 3.5 days, who will validate what the school has presented in their self-study. The Visiting Team will make an accreditation recommendation to MSA. (not started)
       
    • PHASE VII: IMPLEMENTING THE PLAN
      Pinewood ensures that their stated goals are implemented, monitored and reviewed each year until complete. (not started)

     

    October 6, 2014

     Dear Pinewood Families,

    School accreditation by a recognized accrediting body is an essential validation tool for ensuring standards of excellence in the U.S. and abroad. Pinewood American International School is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA), located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes MSA accreditation as a “reliable authority as to the quality of education.” [www.middlestates.org]

    The MSA accreditation process challenges schools to meet and exceed uniform world-class standards while reflecting upon the distinctive cultures of their institutions and school communities. This prestigious validation of educational excellence and dynamic school improvement must be reviewed comprehensively, on a 10-year cycle, both internally and by an impartial third-party evaluation team.

    This year, we begin this comprehensive accreditation review process once again; the last review having been in 2005 - 2006.

    While accreditation has the external purpose of ensuring standards of excellence and providing an external review of our school, one of the main benefits of the process for us is internal self-reflection. Thus, during the accreditation process, we at Pinewood will be examining our past, present and future in terms of teaching and learning. And, we will set major goals and action plans for the school as we look to the future.

    There are four main stages to the accreditation process.

    1. The first stage is to choose an accreditation protocol to follow for review. We have chosen Excellence by Design, an accreditation protocol that leads the school to establish objectives for improving student performance and organizational capacity based on its vision of a preferred future for its students. It is a future-oriented and visionary protocol.
       
    2. The second stage is for the entire school to engage in an intensive self-study. Every division/department of the school meets to evaluate its strengths and limitations and to review its development against the 12 standards set forth by MSA. Every teacher, staff member, administrator and Board member thoughtfully evaluates different areas of the school. We also solicit student and parent input in the form of committee participation and purposefully designed electronic surveys. The school produces a Self Study report throughout the 12-month process. This process will take place in the current academic year (2014–2015).
       
    3. The third stage is the external evaluation when an Accreditation Visiting Team comes to Pinewood and observes the school in action for 3½ days. This team will have read our Self Study, and at the end of their visit, they will write a report and make a recommendation regarding our re-accreditation. Notably, Pinewood was first accredited in 1986 and we have been re-accredited three times since then.
       
    4. The fourth stage is a follow up to the Visiting Team’s evaluation. The team writes a report about Pinewood and presents it to MSA for a vote. Pinewood then receives a response report, which will become part of our follow up Action Plans wherein we focus on our stated goals and the plans for achieving those goals for the next 7 years. * Note that the accreditation cycle used to be 10 years, but it has been changed to a 7-year cycle for all protocols.

    While it is a great deal of additional work for teachers and staff who still have their teaching responsibilities during this process, and to those other stakeholders who are involved, it is also a very enlightening exercise. It is an opportunity for us to reflect upon our alignment with the school’s mission and vision and for us, families included, to question, explore, elucidate and attune the educational experience at Pinewood. 

    Evaluation requires input from all constituencies in the school. Thus, faculty/staff, student and parent surveys will be distributed electronically in the coming weeks to each group. For parents, we ask that you take time to complete the online survey as it will be a valuable component of our self-study. In addition, any parent who would like to serve on a committee should contact me at your earliest convenience. We welcome participation from all who are interested.

    Finally, we appreciate your understanding as we do this important work. We will be taking a few extra half days in January–June to facilitate committee work, but we will have Secondary students on hand at school for those who do not have alternate arrangements. These dates are forthcoming.

    I also emphasize the importance of your participation through the survey and thank you in advance for your ideas and input. Please expect an email and link for the survey in the coming weeks.

    If you have any questions about the accreditation process, feel free to contact me at your convenience.

    Sincerely,

    Roxanne Giampapa
    Director