After two years of in-depth self study, The Riverside School has earned initial accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. According to NEAS&C, this designation means that Riverside has met the standards that "assure that the school is faithful to its mission and conducts its programs appropriately to meet its goals."
The accreditation process and self study at Riverside were initiated as part of the trustees' review of the school's strategic plan in the fall of 2010, and motivated by two main factors: recognition of 30 years of evolution as a school and a logical time to look toward a sustainable future, and potential changes to school choice legislation in Vermont.
Faculty, trustees, parents, alumni and long time friends of the school were invited to serve on committees, who considered issues from governance to safety and curricula to communication, over an 18-month period of discussion, document review, and writing.
Bruce Berryman, alumni parent and longtime friend of the school who has significant experience with the NEAS&C accreditation process at the college level, volunteered to share his expertise in planning the process and the writing of the final report.
Surveys were shared with parents, alumni, students, faculty, and former faculty in order to gather information and opinions from all constituents about various aspects of the school.
Head of School Dr. Laurie Boswell supported this effort fully, dedicating in-service days to such efforts. Boswell said, "A great deal of important work was accomplished by the school community. We know ourselves well and the clarity of our mission will continue to guide our program for years to come."
As the self study work drew to a close, Riverside faculty worked to clarify and unite their efforts behind a series of recommendations for their own school improvement. A visiting team of other educators from Vermont and Massachusetts then read the report and spent three days at Riverside in order to confirm and validate its conclusions.
Effective communication and creating a positive learning environment were two of the seven major commendations Riverside received. The major recommendation the school will focus on as part of a multi-year plan for school improvement is to continue updating the written curriculum documents.
Riverside is happy to be celebrating its success in meeting all of NEAS&C's standards, while also investing in the kind of long-term planning necessary for another three decades of success.
Nelia Dwyer, faculty member and chair of the self study said, "it was a really valuable and authentic process for us to go through, I think now we're in a strong position for growth and longevity."