NYSAIS accredits school for next ten years

Jack Crovitz, Staff Writer

This week, visitors from the New York Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) came to observe the school’s curriculum, mission, and environment. This visitation is one stage in a longer accreditation process, said Head of Upper Division Dr. Jessica Levenstein.
Members of the school community, including parents, faculty, and students, assembled a one-hundred-page-long self study for NYSAIS over the past year, Levenstein said.
“Ideally, this process is not so much about an outside body looking at us, but creating an opportunity for us to look at us,” she said.
“It’s a valuable activity to have the whole school reflect on how we’re doing,” Louise Kim (9) said.
The accreditation process can be an opportunity for the school to improve, Levenstein said.
“It makes you proud of what you’ve done, but it also sets goals for the future,” she said. “It’s healthy to reflect and consider where we want to head,” she also said.
The accreditation process can also help the school connect with a network of other private schools around New York, said Director of the Office for Identity, Culture and Institutional Equity (ICIE) John Gentile, who chaired the Equity and Justice Committee.
“NYSAIS helps us be a part of a larger community which helps set the tone around different policies, programs, and practices…and establishes us as a leader within that community,” he said.
In the past, accreditations have exposed issues and provided targets for improvement, Levenstein said.
“The building of Lutnick Hall was the result of observations made in the last accreditation about us not having the space to do the kind of science we want to do,” she said.
“It’s always really useful to have other people come here so we can see the school through their eyes,” Gentile said.
Students on NYSAIS committees also discussed areas for improvement, said Kim, who was on the Middle Division (MD) committee.
“We talked about ways to improve both the academic and general wellbeing of students,” she also said.
The NYSAIS accreditation occurs every decade, and the school has excelled in the past, Levenstein said. However, the criteria changed this time, from a focus on the curriculum to a focus on the school’s core values, she said.
This new focus on the mission and values are important, Taussia Boadi (12), who was on the Student Life committee , said.
“I think that they’re trying to ensure that Horace Mann lives up to its mission and the values it promotes,” Boadi said.
“NYSAIS saw our school as a place where students not only learn but can also grow as people,” Kim said.

Some students participated directly in the NYSAIS visit by speaking on a panel about the school, their experiences, and their recommendations for reform. Madhav Menon (11) said that this changed his conception of the accreditation process.
“At first it felt like we were acting for them, but eventually I think they got a real experience of what Horace Mann is like,” he said.
The accreditation can also help us grow closer and more reflective as a community, Kim said.
“I personally had very enriching discussions with the students and faculty in my committee,” she said.
“NYSAIS encourages us to strive and aspire to be the best versions of who we can be,” Gentile said.