This week, St. Michaels University School hosted an assessment team from the Canadian Educational Standards Institute (CESI). First accredited by CESI in 2000, SMUS was prepared for our second full evaluation, a process that CESI requires its member schools to undertake every seven years. Currently, SMUS is the only independent school in British Columbia fully accredited by CESI.
“Our motto is ‘making good schools better,’” says CESI executive director Anne-Marie Kee, “and the emphasis of CESI is all about continuous improvement within the school.”
The full evaluation is a two-part process. First, a self-evaluation requires the school to rigorously examine its practices in key areas, which cover everything from the learning environment and curriculum to the school’s financial and operational capabilities. Since January, dozens of small teams involving every faculty and staff member in the school have been examining their work and reporting on their findings.
“We benefit tremendously,” says Head of School Bob Snowden “from both the opportunity to examine ourselves and be examined by a group of qualified educators and administrators who are equally invested in the learning and development of youth.”
The second part of the evaluation is a peer review, which is conducted by a visiting team of colleagues from independent schools across Canada. Made up of 13 individuals in roles including heads of school and finance directors, the Visiting Committee spent four days observing classes and talking to faculty, staff, parents and students.
The chair of the Visiting Committee, Headmaster Ted Staunton from St. Andrew’s College, complimented the school on its level of preparation. In fact, he joked, one randomly chosen student was able to articulate the motto and values in such detail that he suspected Bob Snowden of planting the student in the quad for the purpose.
“I give the school a lot of credit for going through the process,” says Ms. Kee. “It’s already a great school and it would be easy to rest on your laurels. But Bob is really committed to finding out how the school can be even better.”