School continues accreditation process

ISACS team will visit next fall


Caitlin O'Connor, Reporter

Just as students are graded every quarter, this school is graded, too, but only once every seven years.

The Independent Schools Association of the Central States is an organization that provides accreditation, professional resources and support services to 237 schools in 13 states, and this school currently finds itself in Year 2 of the three-year accreditation process, fully expecting that once again it will earn full accreditation from ISACS.

This is the fourth time the school has gone through the seven-year cycle of the accreditation for ISACS. Mr. Dennis Thomas, vice principal for academics and the co-chair of the steering committee that will put together the school’s self-study, said about the accreditation process, “It’s affirming the great work that we do.”

Thomas has played a key role in ensuring the self-study conducted during Year 2 runs smoothly, and that the entire school will be ready for the third year and next fall when a visiting team will come for four days to interview students, teachers and faculty  and observe classes.

He works with co chair Ms. Kathy Saum, vice principal for student conduct and attendance, as well as the other members, including Mr. Duane Emery, vice president for enrollment management; Mrs. Anne Katz, college counselor; Mrs. Katherine Klee, theology teacher; Mr. Jere Kubuske, science department chair and data coordinator; Mr. John O’Hara, social studies teacher; Mrs. Grace Rodecap, director of marketing; Mrs. Jennifer Shevlin, English teacher; Mr. Dave Worland, principal; and Mrs. Kristen Zupancic ’10, administrative coordinator for academic affairs.

Their job is to put together the resources that each of the other committees needs to successfully reflect and improve during the second year of the accreditation process. Thomas said that there are 46 committees, from food service to the performing arts, all looking at and analyzing the work done here. He had many papers and lists on the table in his office, and was excited to share more about why ISACS is beneficial to every student. He said, “It’s an in-depth look at everything we do at Cathedral.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into this process,” Thomas said. “Every teacher, faculty and staff member is involved.” Students and parents also participate on these committees that met before school on late start days. He said, “Every person is engaged in this process; it’s really exciting.” His point was made when theology teacher Mr. Ken Jensen walked in to discuss meeting times for the committee on which he serves.

Thomas has a leadership role in the process of the school’s accreditation, which students may not realize is an important part of their high school experience and education. He said, “It’s a look at how we take on the next 100 years of excellence here at Cathedral.” However, he would not say it’s his most important job, which he defines as aiding in the future of every member of the student body. As Thomas said, “The ultimate success is the success of our students at the next level.”

A key part of the accreditation process to help those students achieve that success involves the visitation team. Ms. Dawn Klus is the director of accreditation for ISAACS, and she already has spent some time on the Hill. She said that when she visited the campus it “feels like a place that is a really good school, but not a high pressure school.”

Klus said the visiting team that arrives in the fall include from 10 to 12 people and they will staying for four days. Their job will be to interview students, faculty, staff members and parents to find out their opinions on topics such as safety at the school, the quality of education, and the students’ feeling regarding their experience here each day. The team will compile reports about what the school is commended for and what they recommend” for Cathedral to become a better version of itself.  They will collectively vote on whether or not our school should be accredited for the next seven-year cycle.

The purpose of being accredited is “more directed toward how are you going to look at yourselves every seven years and look at how you are going to improve,” Klus said.