Thursday, February 9, 2012

Re-Accreditation Re-Creation

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” 
-Mother Theresa

In January of 2011, the Administration, Faculty, Staff, students, parents and community of Incarnation Catholic School embarked on a 13 month journey to design a plan for our school’s improvement as a part of this re-accreditation by the Florida Catholic Conference.

During this time, we have looked at who we are, who we have been and who we would like to be.

We have refocused our attention on our Mission Statement, written during our last Accreditation visit in 2005 and refined for this current one.

We have analyzed our strengths and weaknesses, inviting teachers, parents and students to offer a realistic assessment of our school.

We have studied test scores, enrollment and demographic trends. We have scoured the pages of the latest and most reliable educational research for the most successful and valid educational strategies and philosophies.

We have synthesized all of this information and worked to create a document for Incarnation’s plan for school improvement.

At the same time, we have progressed as a school. Objectives in lesson plans have become more specific, student-centered, and measurable. Appropriate scaffolding up to higher order thinking skills has been incorporated into teachers’ planning. Time-on-task, student engagement and maintaining instructional time have become areas of focus and importance. All community members have been challenged to more wholeheartedly follow Christ, ensuring that He remains the Reason for this school that bears the Name of His Incarnation.

All of this work for the past 13 months has led us here, to this night, the beginning of our Accreditation visit.

But in many ways our journey is just beginning. If possible, I encourage the ICS community to consider the past 13 months as time of preparation. Much like budgeting, planning, and packing for a vacation or the stages of pregnancy prior to giving birth to a new life, our work over the past year has brought us to this moment.

The moment where we point our sails in a new direction. The moment where we courageously push off and ask for God to do whatever He needs to do to draw us closer to Him.

The moment where we start to become the School that we were created to be.

To coincide with our teachers’ good work with planning, instruction and assessment, our plan for school improvement challenges students to enhance their learning to learn skills – those study habits and routines that will help students take ownership of their learning. Furthermore, students will be taught how to assess their own work, being able to judge for themselves their level of understanding and how or why certain aspects of a lesson need further explanation, attention or remediation.

Along these same lines, students will be challenged to solve problems through critical thinking and other higher order skills. Interdisciplinary units; common, school-wide philosophies and vocabularies; and a greater emphasis on deeper levels of understanding will become hallmarks of all instruction and learning.

And if Christ is at the center of our school, our School Improvement Plan strives to bring students into the school’s heart, allowing students to encounter the living Jesus by taking more ownership of and having more involvement in the faith life of our school.

Incarnation Catholic School has undergone many changes over the past seven years. There is a new principal and administration. Teachers have come and gone. Our student population has evolved. We have a Pavilion, covered walkways, elevated sidewalks, renovated bathrooms and many other improvements throughout our classrooms.

God willing, over the next seven years we will experience a season of recreation and revitalization at Incarnation Catholic School enabling us to accomplish all that we have set forth in our Accreditation report. Our goals are lofty yet realistic. Our efforts will be constant and tireless. Our faith has been, is now, and will continue to be firm in Jesus Christ.
Our time is now. Let us begin.