August 2, 2023
By Pat Cuneo, Director of Accreditation, SAIS
It goes without saying that time is a precious commodity for independent school leaders. When we do get involved beyond our respective schools, we want to make the most of what little “spare” time we have.
Serving on an SAIS accreditation team achieves several important professional objectives—all at the same time. Being a team member is a practical way to share your experience and insight to help other SAIS schools envision their future and take meaningful steps to reach their goals. When learning about virtually every aspect of how another school operates, team members cannot help but come away from their experience with new ideas and a fresh perspective. Moreover, working closely with a team of other independent school leaders often results in long-lasting connections and support. Lastly, if more reasons are necessary, SAIS accreditation is a process that benefits all of the schools in our association. The team members who visit your school every five years are volunteers; it’s a matter of paying it forward.
To the more than 100 SAIS team chairs and hundreds of team members who have volunteered in recent years: THANK YOU! Our schools could not engage in this critical process of continuous growth without your time, energy, and expertise.
For those who may be interested in serving on a team, signing up is easy to do. Simply complete the participation form on the Accreditation Team Service page of the SAIS website. It’s important to note that team members are matched with schools based on their area(s) of responsibility and experience. Therefore, be sure to enter or update the My Details section of your SAIS profile. Schools request a variety of experiences for their teams in addition to academic administrators including CFOs, directors of technology, DEI leaders, counselors, enrollment and advancement directors, and others. After participating in three or more visits, you may be invited to become a team chair. Serving as a chair requires additional training and service as an assistant team chair on at least one visit.
As a former teacher and administrator who was involved in the accreditation process for more than 20 years as a team member and chair, I understand how daunting it can be to step away from your own school for two to three days. However, the opportunity to give back to the independent school community, learn and grow professionally, and make connections with leaders at other schools has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional career.
As the accreditation coordinator at two different schools for five accreditation visits, I am indebted to the visiting team members who took the time to learn about my schools’ aspirations, validate our community’s efforts, and provide meaningful suggestions about how to achieve our goals.
If you have any questions about the process or how to get involved, we’re always here to help! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (678) 203-5005.