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“Pace of Life” Tops NEASC List

A group of visiting headmasters, led by Rick Melvoin, former Deerfield faculty member and current headmaster at Belmont Hill School, visited Deerfield last term to assess whether the school’s reaccreditation selfstudy matched up with reality. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) must reaccredit the school every 10 years, and last year faculty prepared a report addressing nearly every aspect of academic and residential life.

Here are the commendations and recommendations from the Visiting Committee.

MAJOR COMMENDATIONS
The Visiting Committee commends Deerfield Academy for
1. its thorough preparation of the self-study and openness in
looking at school issues, and its warm, open engagement with the Visiting Committee, as all constituencies—students, faculty, staff, administration, parents and trustees—were friendly, thoughtful and candid
2. its continued commitment to a strong community, seen in the spirit, loyalty and pride of the students, and particularly in close student/faculty relations—to use the school’s phrase, dedication to “high touch”—throughout school life
3. the creation and ongoing implementation of a substantive strategic plan, honoring Deerfield’s past yet focusing on 21st century teaching and learning, and the commitment to provide the resources to make the plan a reality
4. the hiring and retention of faculty who are talented and dedicated, and an ongoing commitment to their professional development
5. a remarkable campus that is beautifully maintained and constantly enhanced

MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS
The Visiting Committee recommends that Deerfield Academy
1. continue to examine issues of pace for faculty, acknowledging the ongoing changes in expectations and pressures that faculty today face while also recognizing that these expectations are part of both Deerfield’s heritage and broader societal changes and challenges
2. continue to examine issues of pace for students, balancing the talents, energy and drive of many students and the pressures they face to excel with the school’s avowed goal of providing a balanced, well-rounded education
3. acknowledge, honor and continue to examine the tensions and dynamics of a school with a rich history and strong traditions that also seeks to embrace the future and the rapid rate of change today
4. examine even more deeply the notion of a “dominant culture” in the school and consider what changes might be desired, if any, and what the cost of changes might be
5. continue to ensure that faculty participate in the processes of strategic planning and implementation
6. explore more fully the staffing, visibility and authority of those charged with diversity work at the school
7. continue to address the vexing challenges brought on by the rising pressure of specialization, looking at its impact on students and faculty alike

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