WAP impresses SACS

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 21, 2006

After meeting with representatives of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools last week, West Alabama Preparatory School learned they are once again among the elite institutions in the South.

The school was visited for two days by representatives of SACS and three member schools before learning they were approved for accreditation.

In preparation for the visit, Headmaster Lynn Compton said the school had to prepare an improvement plan in addition to keeping up the programs they already have. This year’s plan included student learning, instruction and organization, effectiveness, an action plan and a technology plan.

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Though none of these items were required, the school chose them to get a leg up on programs offered to better prepare their students for life after high school. The technology plan, Compton said, was basically a way to make sure their students were able to stay ahead in the rapidly changing world of technology.

“We had to have a technology plan to make sure our library was up to par, which it was,” Compton said. “They also looked at our policy books and our handbooks.”

The visitors also checked to see that the school met all the standards set by SACS, which they did. They also offered suggestions to help the school even more effective.

One of the schools biggest selling points, Compton said, was also an item that drew a great deal of praise from SACS.

“One of the things we were commended on was our class size, which they said enhances individual learning,” Compton said. “They also complimented the relationship among our students and faculty, which creates an optimum learning environment and the commitment of this school to the use of technology.”

Community service and the newly renovated cafeteria also caught the eye of representatives.

While they are happy to earn their accreditation, Compton said, they do not plan to rest. She said the school is always looking for ways to improve and let the public know what they are all about.

“One of the things we are going to focus on is communicating to the public the things that are going on at our school,” Compton said. “We know there are a lot of great things going on and we are going to make more of an effort to get the word out to the public.”

Adding playground equipment, Compton said, was another addition they hoped to make in order to help them expand their daycare services.

Many people know the name SACS, but few know the advantages of being accredited. Gaining this accreditation, Compton said, takes a lot of hard work, but it is worth it.

“It is a well-known established organization that schools and colleges and universities in the South use,” Compton said. “It is a reputable accrediting agency and it is not an easy thing to get done.”

Gaining accreditation this year meant even more, Compton said, because of the strides the school made and the obstacles they’ve overcome since last summer.

“I think this is a huge step for us,” Compton said. “There were people who said we would not be open until Christmas and the fact that we were and we are now SACS accredited assures our graduates an advantage. It assures our graduates that they can be accepted to college and into the armed forces.”

Now that their accreditation is in place, Compton said, the school is ready to continue to grow and improve. She said their main concern is always finding ways to produce well-rounded, successful students.

“It’s a lot of work, but there are a lot of rewards too,” Compton said. “We are always in the business of analyzing what we are doing and seeing how we can do it better.”