By Amanda Wyatt
After years of intensive study and work, the Bridgehampton School has been accredited for the first time by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
At the board of education’s (BOE) most recent meeting, Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre proudly displayed the school’s certification, which will last for the next seven years.
“Being accredited is validation that the Bridgehampton School Community is on the right track with regard to curriculum alignment, student achievement and recognizing our strengths, as well as our needs,” said Dr. Favre in an interview this week.
Nicki Hemby, board of education president, echoed Dr. Favre’s sentiments in a separate interview.
“I am so delighted by the accreditation and I am grateful for the support and enthusiasm from our parents, students and staff members,” she said. “The entire community of Bridgehampton should be very proud.”
Hemby expressed her gratitude to Dr. Dianne Youngblood, former school superintendent, and Elizabeth Kotz, former board president, who had initiated the accreditation process. She also thanked Dr. Favre “for helping us see it through.”
The Middle States Association (MSA) is a non-profit organization that evaluates and accredits schools, colleges and universities in the Mid-Atlantic region. The decision to be accredited by MSA or any other organization is voluntary, and helps to confirm the quality of the participating educational institutions, according to Dr. Favre.
Dr. Favre explained that accreditation is “a self-study process that begins with a survey of staff, students and stakeholders, and ends with a plan for forward movement.”
All faculty members worked on self-reviews for accreditation. Some even served as internal coordinators, which Dr. Favre referred to as “the cheerleaders for the process. They assure data collection, and assist in assuring input from all stakeholders.”
Parents, board of education members, community members and even students were involved in the accreditation process, as well.
Last May, the school submitted its lengthy self-study to MSA. The full report is available on the school’s website under the “Strategic Planning Counsel” tab.
But as Dr. Favre noted, the accreditation process was a time-consuming one.
“It requires data-based decision making, as well as consensus building, but it is time well spent,” she said. “It requires us to visit the 12 standards for accreditation, determine where we are within each standard, and then prioritize what needs our attention, in what order.”
She added the standards for accreditation ensure quality in terms of the school’s mission and philosophy, governance and leadership, finances, facilities, and health and safety, among other things.
As Dr. Favre explained, accreditation is a cyclical process.
“We are accredited for seven years, and will make a report at mid-year, and then at about the five year point, we will begin the process again,” she said.
“The work of the self-review process is ongoing, goal oriented, and data driven,” said Dr. Favre who added that accreditation means “Bridgehampton has what it takes to meet and exceed our goals.”
“This is validating to a small staff that works continually to assure that we educate the whole child,” she said. “Considering all of the various pieces to accreditation assured that we didn’t miss anything.”