Westminster School: Full Accreditation by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools
Westminster School stands as a bastion of the classical educational approach for elementary students in the Washington, D.C. area. The shadow of its founder, Jane Goll, stretches across five decades, and its present Head of School, Ellis Glover, emerged from that shadow twenty-six years ago to illuminate what a brilliant classical educational culture looks to be in 2018. (Excerpt from VAIS Executive Summary).
Since 1998, Westminster School has been a fully accredited member of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS). Membership is open only to not-for-profit schools that meet the standards listed at the bottom of this article. Determination that the school meets the Standards for Membership is accomplished through ongoing self-review and reporting on the part of Westminster School and regular, rigorous examination by VAIS.
In Spring 2018, Westminster School underwent a major (10-year) review by VAIS. The school was asked to provide an overview of the school plus an in-depth report on the current status and strategic planning in several areas, including school programs, financial management, marketing and development, facilities, and technology. Reporting included the sharing of approximately 164 documents, including the master curriculum guide, crisis management plan, sample publications, minutes from meetings of the Board of Trustees, and the school’s five-year strategic plan, to name a few. After studying the school’s self-study report and all submitted documents, a Visiting Team comprising administrators from other VAIS member schools visited the Westminster School campus for three days, conducting a thorough review of daily school activities plus interviews with trustees, administrators, teachers, parents, and students. The Visiting Committee then voted on each Standard for Membership and submitted a report on the entire process to the VAIS Committee on Membership.
Westminster School is pleased to affirm that the Committee on Membership voted unanimously to continue Westminster’s status as a fully accredited member of VAIS. The school is also proud of the many commendations shared by the Visiting Committee in its Executive Summary report, including the following excerpts.
Outsiders considering the classical approach as an anachronism in the haze of a digitally-charged world will find that very haze dispelled . . . Over five decades, students have moved through the school as scholars, poets, thespians, artists, and musicians. The very walls of the School expose and celebrate not just the possibilities in a child’s imagination, but transmit an essential message that Westminster School is child-centered, richly folding in tenets of the Western experience. It is first and foremost in the daily habits; it is clear and purposeful in its results.
This clarity of purpose is understood seamlessly by the faculty, administration, and parents. This “Golden Triangle” finds at its center, the student, the child, the human being. It is as holistic as it is humane. The eye-to-eye contact in every greeting and the quiet work of picking up a piece of paper when no one is looking speak to the authenticity of Westminster’s mission. It is a formidable educational environment shaped and informed on proven practices over its five decades.
VAIS Standards for Membership
1. The School’s mission guides its policies and practices and is evident in the climate, culture, and program of the School.
2. The program fulfills the educational and developmental needs of the students, meets the requirements of learning and living in a diverse and globally-connected society, and reflects ongoing internal review.
3. The School authentically communicates its mission and values, creating a community that understands and supports the mission while engaging in the life of the School.
4. The faculty, administration, and staff support the mission of the School, are qualified for their positions, engage in ongoing evaluation and professional growth, and effectively implement the program.
5. The Head of School serves as the chief executive, is the sole employee of and only direct report to the governing body, and is ultimately responsible for the operational and educational management of the school.
6. The governing body of the School is independent and deliberative, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and works in partnership with the Head of School to ensure that fiduciary and strategic policies advance the school.
7. The governing body and the Head of School jointly assure that the financial resources are sufficient to sustain the program and are efficiently managed.
8. The School’s facilities and equipment are sufficient to meet the needs of the program and are maintained to provide an effective and safe learning environment.
9. The School’s care for the health, safety, and welfare of the students is evident in its policies and practices.
10. [IF APPLICABLE] The residential program is so conceived and staffed as to reflect the mission of the school and provide a healthy and safe environment.
11. [IF APPLICABLE] The preschool and/or extended day program is conceived and staffed so as to reflect the mission of the School and provide a healthy, safe, and developmentally appropriate environment.
12. The faculty, administration, and staff support the mission of the School, are qualified for their positions, engage in ongoing evaluation and professional growth, and effectively implement the program.