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Accreditation team applauds Baldwin for doing it right

| Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Baldwin High School received a recommendation for accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges & Schools Validation Team that visited the school during the week of Nov. 18. The team's chairperson, Samuel Bidelman, talked to teachers and administrators about the recommendation during a presentation.

The excellence already accomplished is evident everywhere — as someone walks down the purple and white hallways, talks to students, listens to teachers and asks questions of administrators.

The building itself — which is clean, safe and newly remodeled — promotes pride.

A wide range of activities are offered for the school's 1,468 students, with many options so they can find their niche. Teachers are well-prepared and well-qualified for their jobs. Technology is cutting edge, and students adore their teachers.

That's what a validation team from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools found when visiting Baldwin High School for three and a half days during the week of Nov. 18.

“Baldwin High School is a good example of what works in public school education,” Samuel Bidelman, chairman for the validation team told teachers and administrators. “We applaud your efforts, your dedication and your engagement. You are gifted educators, and you teach talented students, and we want to let you know that you have made a significant difference here at Baldwin and a promise of an even better education for those students who will graduate in the future.”

The validation team reviewed Baldwin High School's adherence to the association's 12 standards, which include the school's mission, leadership, finances, facilities, health and safety, educational programs, student life and activities and technology. The group of five that toured Baldwin High School and talked with parents, students, administrators and staff members recommended Baldwin High School's accreditation for the Commission on Secondary Schools. Baldwin High School received this accreditation

Baldwin High School received this same accreditation nine years ago. A two-year extension on the seven-year accreditation was granted to the school.

The accreditation allows school leaders to do a thorough evaluation on themselves and determine what is working well and where improvements can be made, they said.

Twenty-two stakeholders — students, parents, teachers, administrators, a board member and community members — began meeting 11 months ago to start a self-study of the school, said library media specialist Brigetta Hannah, who served as the internal coordinator for the accreditation.

“It really looks at the whole gamut of your building, from the lockers to the purification of the water to the curriculum,” Hannah said.

The building was the easy part, sort of. It was remodeled in 2009 and has many of the needed amenities.

Finding out what students, parents and the community thought of the school experience was important, so a survey was created to determine their perception of Baldwin High School.

“For the most part, they're happy with the programs and activities,” said Hannah, also noting that the survey results found that people viewed the school as being safe.

The school, though, needs “a sense of community,” Hannah said.

So, for that, a plan was created. Incoming freshman starting next school year will be paired with an adult in the building to help give them a sense of belonging.

“We want them to know that we're here for you, that you belong here, that we care about your successes on all levels,” Hannah said.

The accreditation focuses on growth, and goals were set.

They plan to demonstrate improved academic achievement in “Algebra I,” English and science; connect to the school community measured through participation in club sports, mentorship programs and community service; and increase the number of students enrolled in courses related to STEAM — science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics — by 3 percent per year — all of this to be completed by 2020.

Having this accreditation is important, teachers and administrators said.

“It validates all of the work that we do every day,” Baldwin High School Assistant Principal Janeen Peretin said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or

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