By Dan Lang
Head of Middle School
Parker began a self-study process in June 2018, that culminated last week in a visit by a team of educators from some of the best schools in California: Head-Royce, Harvard-Westlake, French American International, Marlborough, Chadwick, La Scuola International, Crossroads, Oakwood School, Brentwood, and Polytechnic. Beyond the respective reputations of these schools, the individuals they sent to Parker were their very best. We were honored to host a team with two heads of school, a former head of school, an associate head of school, director of diversity, academic dean, director of advancement, chief financial officer, two division heads, and a department chair.
Having read our self-study report, the result of 18 months of work by our faculty, staff, and administrators, our visiting team came prepared to spend three days visiting classrooms, meeting with teachers, administrators, and students, and reviewing documents. As an added bonus, our visiting team was able to participate in the opening festivities of Poetry Week 2020.
If you happen to serve in education, you may be familiar with the accreditation process. If not, a close comparison would be the auditing process. Essentially, the team serves as a mirror to our community. They read our report, including the areas that we have identified as strengths and areas to improve, and then test what we have written through an in-person examination of our school.
At the end of the process, the team reads a preliminary overview of the report by major section and shares commendations and recommendations with the combined faculty and staff. Once complete, the team departs and sends its report to the California Association of Independent Schools Board of Standards, which completes a full review of everything presented and votes on a term of accreditation. Parker will receive a final copy of the visiting team’s report and our accreditation term this summer.
So what did the team find when they visited Parker? From their comments to our combined faculty and staff, the team found a school driven by a bold mission. A school committed to continuous improvement that shines in many areas and has self-identified areas that it would like to do better. The team found a financially healthy school with a strong governing body and a faculty committed to the students in its care. Most importantly, the team found community. Our visiting team was able to see that what makes Parker a special place is our commitment to being fully invested in our students, families, and each other. To honor our school, the team addressed our sense of community in one of its commendations. To remind us how important community is to the fabric of our school, the visiting team encouraged us to maintain and search for ways to grow our connections even deeper. It seemed that the visiting team understood our annual theme for the 2019-2020 school year is Connected.
While there were many high points to both the visit and the reading of the preliminary report, my own favorite came right at the end of the process. In closing, the Chair of our visiting committee thanked us and then shared that the members of the visiting committee “would be honored to send their own children to Parker.” I can not think of a better endorsement, not only from our visiting team, but also from every family that has chosen Parker as the educational home for their child. Thank you for partnering with Parker for your child’s education, it is an honor.