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Accreditation news

In mid October, Fresno Christian Schools completed the process of renewing both its ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) and WASC  (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation, and now await the official results of the 2018 accreditation report.

The WASC accreditation is a requirement for high schools across the nation. This creates a uniformity between high school diplomas on a national level. Christian schools acquire an ACSI accreditation to prove validity in teaching and Biblical integration.

Fresno Christian Schools has been an accredited school since its inception in 1977. While Superintendent Jeremy Brown has been a part of other accreditations, he just completed his first ACSI renewal.

“The other visits that I have been a part of were with ACS WASC,” Brown said. “This is my first six-year review with ACSI. What I love about FCS is that our students come from over 90 different churches in the San Joaquin Valley. There is a wonderful culture as a result of that much spiritual diversity.”

As with most accreditation reviews, the collaboration between administration, teachers, and staff are a crucial part of the process. Principal Amy Deffenbacher is encouraged by the positive comments shared by the visiting accreditation team.

“The team was impressed by the amount of work that has been accomplished in the years since the last accreditation visit,” Deffenbacher said. “The team was encouraged by the quality of our staff, their love for Jesus, and their love for students.”

In her new full-time administrative role, elementary principal Katie Reneau enjoyed hearing about all facets of campus, areas of strength as well as growth opportunities. She said it was refreshing to see the staff was involved in the self-study process.

“The accreditation process was an eye-opening experience for me,” Reneau said. “I was so grateful for the process, and am even more excited for the work that’s ahead, as a result of the visit. Our staff researched and interviewed each other in order to report their findings of our school, truly making the experience a team effort. Since the visit, I’ve enjoyed the conversations we’ve had as a staff. Teachers and faculty members want to know where we’re going next, and how they can be involved.”

Brown appreciates the commitment and self-sacrifice of the accreditation team as their visit’s purpose is meant to confirm and encourage school growth and excellence.

“I love visiting with the accreditation team,” Brown said, “and, in this case, they all had a connection to private Christian schools through either family, attendance or they were currently working at one. The process of accreditation is intense but, at the heart of it, is collaboration and the desire to help others. The visiting team members do not get any compensation for being on the teams. Many of them are still responsible for things back at their schools and they leave their families for 3-4 days. It is a sacrifice. So their motivation is to learn, collaborate and serve. Our visiting team was all of that and more.”

While the final results and official report are still weeks away, the accreditation team shared positive and glowing verbal comments upon completing their visit.

“Overwhelmingly, and at every level,” Brown said, “their (accreditation team) comments were positive about our people: staff, students, parents, board…everyone. Our structure is good but our people are great. Of course, I knew that from the first day on campus five years ago.”

Deffenbacher agreed and is excited about Fresno Christian’s future in Fresno.

“The commendation and action items in the preliminary report are all things that we’ve been talking about and making plans for,” Deffenbacher said. “It is exciting for us to have had confirmation from fresh sets of eyes that we continue to head in the right direction! The accreditation team did a thorough job of visiting with people from all corners of the campus (staff, students, parents). Thank you FCS community for welcoming the team so well!”

In the coming months, after both WASC and ACSI officially report their findings, Brown will speak in a spring FCS Town Hall, sharing the school’s Continuous Improvement Plan. Reneau sums up what all three administrators were feeling about the school moving forward.

“The commendations were reminders to celebrate the good that happens on our campus, daily,” Reneau said. “Sometimes, it’s important to reflect on how far we’ve come, and celebrate the greatness on our campus, pausing from the ever-present desire to find needs and fill them.”

Accreditation news2018-11-01T11:41:02-07:00

LRC equips, supports students with proven strategies

For 25 years, Fresno Christian Schools has offered targeted intervention services for students who learn differently or need academic support, employing a variety of strategies and programs to help advance their success.

While most private Christian schools are not able to offer these extra services, the campus Learning Resource Center (formerly the Discovery Program) supports the heart and vision of FCS to serve all students from challenged to gifted.

Beyond basic classroom support, the LRC employs two credentialed special education teachers who provide accountability between home and school, helping students navigate the expectations of the classroom and an individualized success plan.

Former FCS parent, classroom teacher and past superintendent Debbie Siebert originated the program whose desire was to better support students with learning disabilities and processing disorders. The focus began with early intervention along with reading development followed by one-on-one instruction.

Today, the restructured model is more classroom inclusive and parallels “response to intervention,” which allows for the teacher to accommodate LRC students inside the classroom with “best teaching practices” and is already happening in all our classrooms.

“I love that we have this program,” Principal Amy Deffenbacher said. “When a parent is truly wanting help for their child, we can share with them proven strategies to help students realize their potential.”

The classroom teacher may also establish connections between student and peer tutor, teaching labs or peer study groups. Classroom lab time before/after school or at lunch is also offered. If these options are still not making a significant difference, parents, teachers or the student Instructional Plan (IP) may suggest LRC instruction.

Two credentialed special education teachers, including Kimberly DeWolf, are available to work directly with students one-on-one, employing a variety of strategies. DeWolf, a 12-year LRC resource teacher, also brings 10 years of experience in the Clovis and Sanger public school systems as a reading intervention, RSP and special day class teacher.

“I am incredibly humbled to watch LRC students struggle and yet extremely rewarded to witness even their smallest of successes,” DeWolf said. “Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of working at FCS as a LRC provider is the day-to-day relationships I am able to build with students and parents. Personally working with students who learn differently is my calling and passion. I am honored to help them realize their potential, while advocating for their success.”

Students are referred to the LRC through student study teams, teacher referral or parent request. Our goal is to make a collaborative effort while meeting the needs of all students. In order for that to happen, communication is required from all stakeholders: students, parents and staff.

Tamara Hill, the second LRC teacher, began working at FCS 17 years ago as the ‘search and teach’ provider for kindergarten on the Northeast campus. Her public school experience began in Selma Unified as a migrant education resource teacher. She now serves students through the LRC from first grade through high school. However, her Fridays are spent with adults at Neighborhood Thrift in the Tower District. Hill supports these community members in literacy, helping them obtain their GED.

“The most rewarding aspect of supporting FCS students through the LRC is the deep relationships I have cultivated over the years,” Hill said. “Whether it is with parents, students or colleagues, building friendships and community brings me great joy and gives purpose to my life.”

The LRC provides support services to equip FCS students K-12 with special learning needs and assists those students with success in the classroom and in life as critical thinkers and independent learners. Ask your teacher about the support services provided for their grade level. The LRC services are fee-based, per session, with the number of sessions being determined by student need.

For more information on Fresno Christian’s Learning Resource Center, click on the ‘Academics’ link on fresnochristian.com.

LRC equips, supports students with proven strategies2017-09-15T11:34:47-07:00