Collaborating to Implement Standards
Village Elementary School - York, ME
When April Noble took on the role of Principal at Village Elementary School five years ago, the school had just completed the accreditation process with NEASC. As an elementary educator, Noble did not have prior experience with NEASC standards, so she worked with her colleagues who had served on the original steering committee to understand the self-study and NEASC accreditation report.
When Noble first encountered NEASC, she did not envision that she would soon be recommended for a role as a Commissioner on NEASC’s Commission for Public Schools (CPS). She is now in her fourth year as a Commissioner and says that her exposure to NEASC standards outside of her school setting has helped guide her work on implementing standards within her own school. As part of her role, Noble evaluates accreditation reports submitted by schools seeking NEASC accreditation. “Being able to read and evaluate all the other schools’ reports helps me really understand what makes a high quality school and weave that into the work I do in my school,” says Noble.
In addition, one of Village Elementary School’s second grade teachers also volunteered with NEASC during an evaluation of its preschool standards. The knowledge that the volunteer teacher was able to bring back to Village Elementary School was valuable to the school as a whole. “It was helpful for us to be able to look at the preschool standards as we think about curriculum and learning. The standards are just good benchmarks for us to be using,” Noble says. She ensures that NEASC standards are revisited each year, during the opening days of school, and linked to professional development efforts throughout the year.
Noble mentions that she has been challenged by central office administration about the cost of accreditation and whether she could tackle this on her own. She states, “I could not do the work of school improvement that the accreditation process offers by myself.” Noble feels that having a team come into the school to work with staff during the self-study creates an openness and honesty that might not happen otherwise. Beyond this, the process creates a timeline and accountability that she believes school leaders cannot replicate. Most importantly, Noble says, “Why would we let go of anything that has helped put our school where it is now?”