The NEASC Experience: The Aftermath
Recently at EHHS The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, came to evaluate our school. This visit happens every ten years. The last time they visited was in 2011. Teachers, administration, the principal, and even students prepared for this visit and made a huge effort in putting their best foot forward and showing NEASC what EHHS is all about.
After the visit, teachers and instructional leaders expressed how impressed the NEASC people were with the school. EHHS Math teacher, Mrs. April Martindale says, “As a math department we prepared before the visit, this helped me feel good about how the visit would go and the department got a special shoutout for the new teaching method we introduced to students called the thinking classroom.” EHHS Instructional leader of the History department Dr. Joseph Marangell, also says, NEASC gave us a report on how we did and they were very impressed with how the students took on the vision of the graduate and hands-on learning in the classes.”
But the well deserved positive reinforcement and feedback from NEASC came from the tremendous amount of correcting, planning, and hard work on the staff’s part. This included learning from the recommendations and feedback that was given from previous visits. The staff had to take the feedback they were given and come up with solutions and plans to create a better learning environment for students. Dr. Marangell says, “In terms of planning for the visit, that is something that has happened throughout the years. But more specifically preparing for them to come visit, there was a report that we had to write usually for the standards that they evaluate us against. We have to gather evidence to show how we were meeting those standards. As well as a narrative that reflects how well we were doing and what improved.” Which is why there have been big changes in the school such as the vision of the graduate, the block schedule, the flex block and office hours. All of these changes were made based on recommendations given to the school. EHHS Principal Mr. Vincent DeNuzzo, says, “Since 2001 there has been a significant amount of growth that has happened. This high school had 120 recommendations that came out of the previous visit and the school was put on a warning status. From 2001 to 2011 we went from 120 recommendations to 25.”
According to staff members they were observed by someone at least once. The majority of them expressed that there were some nerves about the visit but overall they don’t think it could have gone any better. EHHS Instructional Leader of the English department, Mrs. Lisa Veleas, says “I don’t think it could have gone any better. Especially in terms of how people felt when they came. The kids were on their best behavior and everyone seemed to put their best foot forward. I think people really cared to show how wonderful East Haven high school can be.” While some had different experiences from what they expected to happen. Although happy with how the visit went overall, Mrs. Martindale, says “I was very disappointed in my class that day because they were not behaving at all while the NEASC people were in the room.” EHHS English teacher, Ms. Leann Boisvert, also says “I only had one observation. And I would have wanted more observations. I feel like the observation I got wasn’t a fair assessment of my teaching because it was a class of five kids. My class of five kids is very different from my normal class of twenty kids. I felt because I only had that one class viewed it wasn’t a good reflection of how my other classes are.” Students also shared their experience with the NEASC visit. Senior Camille Dudley, says, “My experience was pretty good. I was invited to the meeting that they had with students. I answered all of their questions honestly and they were really nice and kind about the conversation.”
The feedback that was received by staff members about the visit was all around very positive and really reflected all of the hard work staff put in to make the changes that needed to be made. Mr. Vincent DeNuzzo, says “The kids and teachers were great. They were the ones that gave evidence of what worked and if we continue to replicate that everyday we will have an even better school community. Of my three visits I was a part of, this was the best one. The goal for the staff moving forward is to continue to keep up the good work and growth of the school environment. Mrs. Veleas, says “I hope everyone feels the positive reinforcement we got from the team and that it helps everyone want to keep going forward.”