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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

The Aquilian

    AIMS Comes to Eye Street


    You may have noticed some unfamiliar faces around Eye Street these past few days.  Perhaps you saw them in your classroom, or maybe you spotted them overlooking the field during our fire drill.  These strangers to our school are representatives from the organization AIMS.

    AIMS, or the Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools, is a local group that accredits schools.  It sets standards for schools through hands-on reviews of the daily operation of a school.

    “The main part of [our] mission is to set best practice standards and in many ways support schools so they can flourish,” said Charlie Britton, the chair of of AIMS’s visit to Gonzaga and retired head of school at McDonogh High School.

    A group of 14 people, all of whom have experience in schools, came to assess the Gonzaga community based on the self-study report that Gonzaga completed.  Their goal was to get a glimpse of how Gonzaga operates each day.

    “They are able to take kind of a deeper dive into what we do here at Gonzaga and tell us whether we are doing a good job or not or where our areas for growth are,” said Tom Every, headmaster of Gonzaga.

    Although an accreditation only lasts ten years, this is the first time AIMS has been to Gonzaga.  The last time Gonzaga was accredited, which was in 2009, the organization Middle States completed the process, instead.

    “We switched primarily because [AIMS] aligns better with how we operate, because it’s more for independent schools whereas Middle States was more geared towards public schools,” said Marilynn Kelley, who helped lead the communication between teachers and AIMS.

    The representatives from AIMS have been at Gonzaga since Sunday, Nov. 3, and they left on Wednesday, Nov. 6.  Throughout the week, they became a part of the community in many ways. They have been to mass in the chapel, seen a fire drill, observed campus kitchen and even watched a soccer game.  The AIMS representatives have also met with leaders from every department or group from Gonzaga, connecting with the business office, counseling department, librarians, athletic office, mothers’ and fathers’ clubs and student organizations, just to name a few.

    Students probably spotted them most frequently in the classrooms, where they observed every teacher during class.  The teachers were instructed to teach as they normally would, but they were not allowed to give quizzes or tests during the observations.

    Moving forward, AIMS will send Gonzaga a report with recommendations on how to improve the school as well as acknowledgements of areas we excelled in.  In response to the report, the school will devise an action plan that lays out the steps it will take in order to strengthen the school. Gonzaga must send in a check-in report to AIMS in five years to explain how far the school has come in its action plan.  Gonzaga will need to be reaccredited again after 10 years.

    “We really believe the self-study was put together in a very thoughtful way by the school. People have been really hospitable; it’s been really enjoyable meeting with people,” Britton said about Gonzaga. “In many ways, it’s been a really affirming visit.”

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