Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gaston Day: School-Member Associations and Accreditation

Membership in various state, regional and national independent-school associations provides Gaston Day School with important benefits that improve the quality of the education here. Gaston Day School belongs to the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools (NCAIS), the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Schools apply for membership in these associations and are invited to join if they meet association requirements and standards. In general, membership requirements become more strict and demanding as the associations become more geographically comprehensive. Membership in NAIS is a real honor reserved only for the finest independent schools in America.
NCAIS in an association of over 80 schools, with over 3,500 teachers serving approximately 35,000 students. According to the NCAIS Web Site, it "encourages communication among member schools, fosters the traditional freedom of independent schools to practice its philosophy of education, and serves as a liaison with regional and national accrediting agencies, and the National Association of Independent Schools." NCAIS is particularly important to Gaston Day because it provides regular, top-notch conferences as continuing education for teachers and administrators. Gaston Day School's relationship with NCAIS is particularly strong because Executive Director Linda Nelson was Head of Upper and Middle Schools here and Mary Kay Little, Director of Member Services, was our Director of Technology before moving to NCAIS. Mary Kay's husband Gray Little is a current member of the Gaston Day School Board of Trustees. I begin service on the NCAIS Board of Directors this year.
SAIS was founded in 1903 and includes 357 member schools in 11 southeastern states, the Caribbean and Latin America, making it one of the largest regional, independent-school associations in the world. Half of the SAIS schools belong to NAIS. SAIS supports Gaston Day School with conferences, comparative statistics, and publications. Last year, SAIS Executive Director, Dr. Steve Robinson, lead our Gaston Day School Board Retreat.
NAIS was founded in 1962 and includes 1,142 member school that have earned a collective reputation as the finest schools in America. NAIS shares vital statistics and current educational research with member schools, and its staff of experts is available for consultation on a wide variety of relevant topics. Gaston Day School was accepted as a member of NAIS in 2000. When I first arrived at Gaston Day in 2001, Executive Director Pat Bassett advised me on the choice of a consultant to help with our admission program. Pat's help proved crucial in growing Gaston Day School.
In addition to our school associations, Gaston Day School is accredited by SAIS and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). These two entities formed a partnership in 2005 to offer independent schools a process for dual accreditation and to better serve the unique needs of independent schools. Established in 1895, SACS is a non-governmental, voluntary organization that accredits more than 13,000 public and non-public institutions from early childhood through university.
Gaston Day's membership in NCAIS, SAIS, and NAIS is a validation of our standing as a leading independent school. The SAIS-SACS accreditation is further evidence of Gaston Day School's success in fulfilling our mission. If someone asks you if Gaston Day School is fully accredited, the answer is "yes." If they ask you if Gaston Day belongs to any independent-school member associations, the answer is also "yes." We are proud to belong to all of them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thanks to the Parents' Association

The Parents Association (PA) plays such an important role in the success of Gaston Day School. Beginning with the Back to School Dinner--once again, a great success this year--and continuing throughout the year with a series of projects and events, Parents' Association volunteers enrich Gaston Day School. Some of the more notable PA projects are the Book Fair, the Fall Festival (which is coming up this fall), and the Graduation Ceremony.
Last spring, the PA staged a fabulous Spring Gala and raised over $20,000 for Gaston Day. PA President Mimi Harmon shared a listed with me of all the things that these funds have helped purchase for Gaston Day School. Here it is:
45 motion chairs from VS America                                                                 $3,606.40
Lower School Reading Material from the Rowland Reading Foundation               $1,080.00
K Log Science Tables (Candyce Owens' Science Class)                                    $1,984.80
K Log Science Tables (Donna Baucom's Science Class)                                    $2,094.85
Sandbox for Playground                                                                                   $405.91    
31 Kindle Fires for Lower School                                                                   $5,983.93
36 Otterbox Covers for Kindle Fires                                                                $1,631.00
2 Table Charging Carts storing and transporting Kind Fires                                $1,308.78
Reading Materials, Grade K-5                                                                            $650.00
Playground Soccer Goals (coming soon!)                                                        $1,500.00
Grand Total                                                                                                 $20,245.67 
These capital purchases mean so much to our teachers and students! Thank you PA for all that you do to help the school and, in particular for the money raised in the Gala for these items.
I also want to thank the PA leadership for all the time and energy they devote to the school. Last year's PA President Monique Prato and now Mimi Harmon have been outstanding leaders, and I am personally grateful to them for their sacrifice and hard work for the school. By virtue of her position as PA President, Mimi Harmon sits on the Gaston Day School Board of Trustees where she represents parents and reports on the work of the PA. Thank you, Mimi.
For any parents interested in becoming more involved in the Parents Association, please attend the regular meetings in the Upper Dining Hall of the Henry Center and express your interest. The first meeting is Friday, September 7, at 8:00 am.   
On another matter related to Gaston Day parents, I am pleased to report that Target sent the school a check for over $500.00 that represents a corporate donation resulting from Gaston Day supporters who use their REDcard to make Target purchases and designate Gaston Day as the recipient of the resulting contributions. Thank you, GDS REDcard users! This is yet another example of the way in which you support Gaston Day School.