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Faculty’s hard work continues to pay off

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / February 9, 1998

GRAMERCY – Faculty at Gramercy Elementary are reaping what they’vesown. And after 25 years of hard work they deserve every bit of it.

After many months and long hours of hard work, the school has continuedthe honor of being accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges andSchools for 25 years straight.

Being accredited by SACS is a big honor, especially since only about halfof the elementary schools in the state are SACS schools, Barbara Cassaraof SACS said.

“The efforts to go through the self study and to continue to keep it up isan accreditation of the school’s high level of dedication to the youngpeople,” Cassara said.

Gramercy Elementary was the first school in St. James Parish to becomeaccredited, and now all of the other 11 schools in the parish havefollowed. Gramercy Elementary was presented with the idea to becomeaccredited 25 years ago when Betty Portier was principal. After Portierleft, Elwin Boats took over as principal and kept the program alive, sowhen Carol Bourgeois came to the school as principal in 1988 she did thesame.

Bourgeois said SACS accredits schools based on their in-depth plans onceevery five years.

“They aren’t coming in to check your parish policy,” Bourgeois said. “Theyare coming in to make sure that everything in this book you have done,”she added pointing to a manual-thick spiral bound book, written byBourgeois and the teachers at Gramercy Elementary that is chock full oflong and short term goals for the school.

The plans that the schools write for submission to SACS take the betterpart of two years to complete.”It is a program in which a school studies and takes a strong look at itsdeficiencies as well as its strengths,” Bourgeois said. “We not only lookat curriculum, but the physical plant as well. The teachers even have to goback to school every five years.”

That’s one of the requirements of becoming an SACS accredited school.

“We have to make sure that everyone in the school has six hours of collegecredit,” Ernestine Albert, a teacher for 28 years at the school, said.

What happens is accreditors go to the schools wishing to be accreditedand examine them inside and out for several days to see if they arefollowing the manual they have written for themselves.”They come and camp out here for about three days,” Bourgeois said. “Theyinterview the teachers, parents and students, too.”When accreditations come in, SACS offers tips to the schools in ways theycan improve.

“We have no deficiencies in our school, but they told us some things wecould do to improve,” Bourgeois said.

Besides getting advice from SACS accreditors, schools gain other helpfultips on how to improve just while completing the study.”It makes us aware of areas we don’t normally think about, like thecafeteria and pupil services,” Lucy Dugas, co-chairperson of thecommittee that submitted the book to SACS, said.Even though the school’s professionals spent many hours preparingthemselves, Bourgeois is glad they did and said that being accreditedoffers many advantages.

“It brings your faculty closer in the long run,” Bourgeois said. “It evenmakes entry for college a little bit easier, when a student has gone to anSACS accredited school.”

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