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.