Still ringing in my ears from years gone by is the simple phrase “better than before.” When I was a young program staffer at The Wilds Christian Camp, George Thornton imprinted the concept on my mind and heart. Always leave a building, a person, a program in better shape than how you found it. That same principle applies to Christian education. In fact, school improvement is at the heart of the accreditation process.
The accreditation cycle begins with an assessment of where we are as a school. We examine the philosophy, the personnel, the programming, and the facilities in fine detail. Inevitably, the examination uncovers areas that need improvement. We then establish priorities and incorporate a school improvement plan (SIP). In this plan, we determine goals, initiatives, timelines, and project managers. The formalization of this plan is the thrust of standard three for accreditation.
BJA’s first school improvement plan was created in 2015, shortly after we received the formal accreditation acknowledgment. Along with self-determined goals, it included initiatives to address suggestions and recommendations given by the accreditation review team. For example, one of the goals was to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration. One of the initiatives for this goal was to hire a secondary principal, rather than my continuing to act as both administrator and secondary principal as I had since 2011. That was accomplished in July of 2015 when Mr. Hunt was hired as secondary principal.
Several facility improvement initiatives resulted in remodeling the Markham Center and upgrading the restrooms in the elementary main. Both of these were completed by the end of the summer of 2017.
Since that time many other improvements have been made, including deploying one-to-one devices for the high school, initiating robotics clubs in the elementary and middle schools, and implementing student safety systems throughout BJA. Virtually all of the goals in the 2015 SIP have been completed.
A new school improvement plan (SIP 2020) will be implemented after the review team provides its report this spring. It will incorporate new initiatives, such as the Vo-Tech program, international recruitment, and strengthening alumni relationships. It will also include the accreditation committee’s recommendations and suggestions.
The goal? Better than before. Why? Whether it be stooping to pick up a candy wrapper in the hallway or raising funds to enable a needy student to attend Bob Jones Academy, our goal is school improvement to more effectively equip our students to show forth Christ in a broken world, all for the glory of God.
Bob Jones Academy exists to assist like-minded Christian parents in challenging students to love Jesus Christ, to embrace God’s truth, to exercise integrity, to pursue excellence, and to serve others.