While many awards given to schools recognize what a school has accomplished, the AdvancED Accreditation process interests itself in the future of the school. Once convinced a school is poised for greatness, it then seeks to assist in maintaining that ascent into excellence. On April 3rd, 2009, Margaret McInteer, Chair of the AdvancED Accreditation External Visitation Team, and seven other professional educators announced that St. Patrick's Catholic School had been immediately awarded AdvancED Accreditation from the Nebraska Department of Education. This honor, the result of years of hard work by many dedicated individuals, was bestowed upon our school in recognition of meeting and exceeding all seven of the AdvancED’s"Accreditation Standards for Quality Schools." St. Patrick's joins Marian High School as one of only two schools in the archdiocese to boast AdvancED Accreditation.
"AdvancED accreditation is a distinct mark of quality that gives St.Patrick’s external recognition of our commitment to quality and excellence,” said school board president Lisa Meyer, adding that, “We should be proud of the education and life shaping that St. Patrick’s is providing to our students.” And that education and life-shaping is aided and abetted by the parents and parishioners of St. Patrick’s, whose faithful support has been a key component of the school’s success. Patti Hasty, chair of the School Improvement Committee, said, “It has been very uplifting to see how much we have accomplished. It is also rewarding to have our work validated by a group of professionals outside our building.”
The external visitation team assessed St. Patrick’s using its Seven Standards for Quality Schools, which is composed of "Quality School Indicators." The first standard is "Vision and Purpose." Margaret McInteer felt that "The vision is embedded in the school's culture" and Mr. Dennis McGuire of the Nebraska Department of Education complimented the "overall excellence of faculty, students, and administrators." Other standards include "Governance and Leadership," "Teaching and Learning," “Documenting Data and Using Results,”"Resources and Support Systems," "Stakeholder Communication and Relationships," and "Commitment to Continuous Improvement.”
The external team also provided input for improvements. The two areas identified for strengthening our program were to create more methods of recording student data and using this data to drive the School Improvement Program. Team member Sofia Kock, principal of Holy Name School at the time of the review, said “St. Patrick’s has the raw data necessary and just needs to create a data document system to support the work in the classrooms and in the school as a whole.” Kimberly Fangman, a Former St. Patrick’s parent, board member, and member of our school's improvement team, said, "The future is where St.Patrick's is focused. We are a school in constant evolution. No matter how high the scores or how dedicated the teachers, Mr. Ridder has made a commitment to improvement a priority at St. Pat's. No matter how good we are, we know we can always be better.”
Throughout the process, the external team examined all facets of our school's operations. Team members observed and interviewed a wide variety of individuals. Our students were instrumental in this process. John Michael Hogue, a 7th grader at the time, reported to the AdvancED team that “This is a wonderful process that gives us the chance to show others that St.Patrick’s is the best in the world!” Emily Dyer, an 8th grader at the time, said “Our teachers want to see us succeed and will go out of their way to help us.”
Several teachers, each members of the School Improvement Team and Principal Advisory Committee, an integral part of St. Patrick’s School, shared their feelings as well. Melissa Peal, a 3rd grade teacher felt that “the external team provided us with insightful advice to collect and utilize data to direct our School Improvement Plan and lead us to continuous success.” Kris Wiest, 2nd grade teacher, said, “The AdvancED external visitation team has helped St. Patrick’s School get better by providing us with a comprehensive assessment of our school. Focusing on these areas will enable us to continue to grow and develop in our mission, ‘To Teach as Jesus did.’”