The last week of April is the culmination of the reaccreditation process for Hampton Lutheran School. On Monday, April 29 and Tuesday, April 30, a team headed by Dr. Ron Bork from Concordia University, Nebraska, will visit HLS to evaluate our self-study reaccreditation documentation and assess our school.
Let’s explore what accreditation is, what’s involved in the reaccreditation process, and why it’s so important for HLS.
What Is Accreditation?
Hampton Lutheran School, like most private schools, has always been an approved school by the state of Nebraska. Accreditation, however, comes from the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the governing body of our church and school.
Accreditation is a rigorous and lengthy process of self-study and self-improvement conducted by National Lutheran School Accreditation, the accrediting body for the LCMS. The accreditation process empowers schools to develop and improve high-quality and Christ-centered education.
According to the NLSA administrator manual, accreditation serves the following purposes:
- Help all Lutheran schools improve
- Help all Lutheran schools evaluate themselves based on their unique purposes
- Assure a level of quality for accredited Lutheran schools based on national standards
- Give appropriate recognition to those schools that complete the process successfully
During the accreditation process, a school is evaluated and measured in seven standard areas that are indicators of school quality. A school must comply with the NLSA’s 30 indicators of success, then evaluate and rate itself on how well it meets each accreditation standard. The school’s ratings are used to create an action plan to improve its conditions; this action plan is reevaluated every five years during the reaccreditation process.
The Reaccreditation Process
Hampton Lutheran School has been accredited for the past 12 years. Every five years, we repeat the self-study process during reaccreditation. The self-study document is reevaluated and rewritten. Documents that support the self-study are updated, and goals for the school’s self-improvement are set. During the five intervening years, the school works to meet the goals set during the reaccreditation process. An annual report on our progress toward those goals is submitted each year.
This process starts with an application in the spring of the previous year (or, at the latest, late summer or early fall of the year the school is being reaccredited). The application is sent to the Nebraska District of the LCMS and then on to the national level in St. Louis.
During the school year, the reaccreditation steering committee helps approve the subcommittees that examine each aspect of the school. There are seven elements of HLS that these dedicated people look at:
- the school’s purpose
- the relationships between the school, community, and church
- the leadership of the school
- professional personnel
- teaching and learning
- student services
The subcommittees are made up of three to five members. They meet several times to complete each part of the self-study document.
This year for the first time, we’ve collected our reaccreditation documentation digitally. Some of the documentation that needed to be gathered includes all of our written curriculum, the school’s written policies, our financial statements, handbooks, and surveys filled out by the parents, children, and staff.
After we’ve completed the process and all the paperwork, we prepare for the two-day visit by Dr. Bork and his team.
What the Visiting Reaccreditation Team Does
Dr. Bork’s team will go through HLS’s self-study document and the supporting evidence. His team members will observe classes; talk to the students, staff, and parents; and examine the new goals for the school. After that process, they will meet with the teachers and staff and go over their findings. They will refine the goals and talk about the strengths of HLS, as well as areas that could be improved.
We will celebrate the end of the process with an appreciation dinner for Dr. Bork and his team, the board, staff, and the people who spent long hours writing, collecting evidence, and editing the reaccreditation study.
Why the Reaccreditation Process Is Important for HLS
God has entrusted us with the care of children. That is an awesome responsibility. We have the challenge to be the best we can be in teaching our children and equipping them both spiritually and academically. The reaccreditation process is one way to ensure that we are doing everything we can to give the students of HLS the best possible education and present the gospel of Jesus to them.
Thank you to Dr. Bork and his team, Jerrita Staehr, Darcy Willers, Pastor Mike Neidow, and Ruth Woolman, for their hard work in our reaccreditation process. We also acknowledge the leadership of administrator Jean Carnoali and the steering committee of Pastor Feddern, Gary Lewein, Holly Herzberg, Craig Eberle, and Kathy Johnson, as well as the numerous subcommittee members. Thank you also to Danielle Bamesberger and Kathy Johnson, who are spearheading the appreciation meal on April 29.
Thank you to the Hampton Lutheran School faculty and staff, as well as the many parents and students who make our school great every day. Above all, praise and thanksgiving to God our Father, who is real and present in the lives of the students at HLS. To Him be the glory!