Browning Completes NYSAIS Self-Study and Accreditation Visit

Over the recent course of a 15-month period, Browning conducted an in-depth self-study as part of its 10-year accreditation review by the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS). NYSAIS is a voluntary organization whose members agree to adhere to a set of best practices and principles for schools. Head of School John Botti notes that the self-study “provided important introspection” and was a conduit for “shared community conversation.”

The review process involves both a self-study and a visit from a NYSAIS accreditation group comprised of peer educators from member schools. These visitors spent three days in October 2016 observing classes, reviewing materials prepared by the School, and meeting with our boys, teachers, administrators, staff, parents and Trustees.  

This two-part accreditation process provides Browning the opportunity to examine how it currently operates – what it succeeds at and what it might wish to improve. Five years hence, the School will be re-evaluated on the progress it makes based on the visiting committee’s recent, specific recommendations.

As the first step in the process, Browning conducted a comprehensive self-analysis of its administrative, academic and extra-curricular programs and initiatives, led by an 11-member steering committee chaired by Director of Middle and Upper School Admission Janet Lien. A total of 36 reports based on responses from focus groups of faculty, staff, administrators, parents, students and Trustees were submitted to the committee, which was responsible for creating a final 103-page document, carefully edited to best convey Browning’s strengths and areas in need of improvement.

According to NYSAIS, the objective of the on-site visit is “to assist a school in better realizing its objectives, to support rather than to inspect, to enhance the school’s unique character rather than to impose a common design. A school is evaluated in terms of its own purposes and objectives, not those of some remote authority.” During the visit, the Browning community attempted to operate in a “business as usual” mode, maintaining its normal routine with as few disruptions as possible.

Browning leadership will ultimately utilize the visiting committee’s feedback (presented as a report to be shared internally) to better prepare for its future, taking pride in what it does best with a visionary approach to areas that may benefit from enhancement.

Browning’s Steering Committee included (L to R): Assistant Head of School/Head of Lower School Laurie Gruhn, Modern Languages Department Chair Megan Ryan, Director of Institutional Advancement Jim Simon, Head of Middle School Chris Dunham, Head of Upper School Jim Reynolds, Director of College Guidance Sandy Pelz ‘71, Director of Middle & Upper School Admission Janet Lien (Chair) and Grade Three teacher Susan Kehoe. 
Not pictured: Retired Headmaster Stephen M. Clement, III, Director of Technology Aaron Grill, Grade Five teacher Dan Ragsdale.