WINDHAM — In a unanimous vote, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges granted Windham High School initial accreditation — and a lot of positive feedback about its curriculum and facilities.
The accreditation is valid for 10 years, but it's just one step in developing and growing the school that opened in 2009, superintendent Winfried Feneberg said.
"Schools are always building new goals and growing," Feneberg said. "This is really just the beginning.”
The accreditation is the culmination of a two-year process that required collaboration between administrators, teachers, students, School Board and community members.
NEASC’s main goal when conducting the accreditation process is to assess the quality of the educational programs at high schools and colleges and compare them to committee standards.
Overall, the report on Windham High School contained 67 commendations and 29 recommendations.
“The committee said they could feel the pride that the educators here have for this school,” guidance director Julie Lichtmann said.
The report specifically cited the high school’s core values, beliefs and overall mission — ROAR — an acronym standing for Responsibility, Opportunity, Achievement and Respect.
The report praised the opportunities for students to become engaged in problem-solving and higher-order thinking.
The first step in applying for initial accreditation is the creation of a self-study, detailing how the high school functions and identifying its mission.
In November, 14 committee members from NEASC visited the school for tours, observations, individual meetings with teachers, and an examination of almost every inch of the building.
A concern raised by the committee was that “students do not have a consistent, clear understanding of the role of 21st-century learning expectations in teaching and learning activities at the school.”
Addressing that feedback will be at the forefront of this summer’s discussions about the school’s two- and five-year plans, interim principal Kori Alice Becht said.
Assistant principal Bob Dawson, the school's next principal, said it will take some work, but he’s confident they will succeed.
“It’s not daunting to resolve that,” Dawson said. “It’s my goal to get it addressed as soon as next year.”