‘God has truly blessed DCS’
Dunnville Christian School (DCS) has exciting news to share with its staff and students when they head back to school next week; during summer the Canadian Hallmarks Institute (CHI) accredited the elementary school.
The school went on a three-year journey to be accredited, a long but very rewarding process, says principal Joyce Koornneef.
“It has been a lot of work but so rewarding because it has cleaned up our school,” she says. “I’m just thankful to God that we’ve gone through the process and it has made us a much better school.”
The school started the process by completing the School Quality Assurance Program (SQAP), offered to elementary schools through the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS).
SQAP prepares schools for accreditation, examining the areas of school identity, school management, academic performance, school culture and community relations.
Koornneef says the accreditation process made the school look at things differently and consider more efficient and improved ways of doing things.
For example, she says safety has improved through the accreditation process because it shone a new light on how things are done.
The school now has more teachers on yard duty; teachers wear vests while supervising in the schoolyard and carry walkie-talkies.
SQAP ensured the school organized its policies and curriculums, consolidating each into a binder that is easy to reference and keep up-to-date. Koornneef says while organizing the curriculum into one place was a huge job it will make things easier in the future.
Koornneef has been involved in the accreditation process since from the start and halfway through transitioned from a teacher to principal. As a first-time principal, she says the process taught her a lot about how the school operates and was also a professional development opportunity.
“There are a lot of things that I would have learned over time but I now learned it in a three-year period,” she says.
Being accredited means an outside organization has recognized the school as a good one, and that gives the school credit in society, she says.
Looking forward, Koornneef says now that the school has been accredited it can move from maintenance to building on its strengths.
Some of the items they are working on include being more of a service to the community, offering after school programs and achieving a higher level of academics.
Marjorie Hoekstra, DCS administrative assistant and development director, says the accreditation process was beneficial for the school to get more organized and strengthened the cohesiveness between the board and staff members.
Koornneef says the board and staff members at DCS pulled together to make the accreditation possible. The board provided teachers with an extra Profession Development day last year to work on the curriculum binder, and a couple extra board meetings were held to complete some of the tasks.
“I am very blessed to work with such dedicated and hard working people that believe in DCS,” she says. “God has truly blessed DCS.”
Hoekstra says she would advise other schools that being small shouldn’t be a barrier to seeking accreditation.
“We are a small school but I think small is sometimes more efficient, more volunteer-based, more … connected between the staff and the parents,” she says, noting accreditation is also a selling tool for the school.
Having received the CHI report in July, Koornneef says the school will be acknowledging the accomplishment at its November membership meeting and give “God the glory.”