What is a Powerful Practice?

Part of the AdvancED accreditation process involves an in-depth evaluation from an external review team. The review team ensures all the standards and performance indicators are met and areas for improvement are identified. Occasionally, the external review team comes across something the school does really well, an achievement noted by the team and not typically mentioned by the school staff. AdvancED considers these achievements “Powerful Practices.”

These observations aren’t found in every school that receives accreditation; they are noteworthy actions that exceed what is expected or typically observed in a school. Needless to say, it’s a big deal when a school is credited with a Powerful Practice!

Kids Harbor is proud to say (yes, we’re bragging!) that each of our schools being reviewed for accreditation – Hamilton Mill, Old Peachtree, and Rosebud – were awarded a Powerful Practice!

Powerful Practice Statements

Each of these Kids Harbor schools received a Powerful Practice Statement describing the specific strength or accomplishment the team noted during their visit. In the report, the team also lists the evidence to support the statement and the rationale behind the decision, noting the impact it has on children’s learning, growth, and development.  

Kids Harbor of Hamilton Mill’s Powerful Practice Statement:

“The leadership promotes a culture that is safe, nurturing, and respectful of all children, families, and staff.”

Kids Harbor of Old Peachtree’s Powerful Practice Statement:

“Teachers and staff consistently pursue building meaningful relationships with parents, children, the community, and each other.”

Kids Harbor of Rosebud’s Powerful Practice Statement:

“The owner and leaders promote a culture based on high expectations, trust, support, and collaboration.”

 

Evidence from our Parents

What warms our hearts is that other than observations, the majority of the evidence was given by our parents during private interviews with the external review team. The review team shared some of these statements with us (not the people making the statements).

We are so thrilled our families expressed their views with the review team! Each day, we strive to make an impact in children’s lives but also in the hearts of our families that we get to see every day. To know that statements like these were made, without us even in the room, means we’re doing what we set out to do each day we arrive at school.

So, from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of all our teachers and staff, thank you to all our beautiful students and families for making our schools as wonderful as they are.

If you want to read the full reports for each school, I’ve listed them below (summarized in parts for brevity) for your review. If you have any questions about the reports or the AdvancED accreditation process itself, please give me a call.

Jennifer Hays

 

 

Kids Harbor of Hamilton Mill

Powerful Practice Statement:

“The leadership promotes a culture that is safe, nurturing, and respectful of all children, families, and staff.”

Evidence:

According to a recent survey, parents rate the school highest (3.75 on a 4.0 scale) on treating families with respect and courtesy.

  • One father stated when expressing advice or concerns about his child to the school the leadership is “incredibly responsive” and, “I feel as if I have been heard and considered.”
  • A mother expressed that her children are “safe, well loved and growing in their journey” at this school.
  • One family stated, “safety and care are a first priority” of the school.
  • Parents affirmed that the leadership is always professional and that the school is healthy and safe.

Teachers surveyed reported the school highest on its collaborative culture (3.74 on a 4.0 scale) and shared values which aligned with school mission and purpose (3.7). Teachers described several examples of the director’s communications and support with children who have special needs. One teacher stated leadership provided another educator in classrooms when needed as well as support with behavior management issues. Another teacher stated there is “never a negative response to a staff member’s request for an emergency absence and the directors are always positive and supportive.” As one teacher said, “I love it here. This is my work family!”

The leadership has in place many types of safety measures.

  • The school uses a “Look Again” method they developed to ensure all children are off the bus by having two adults move a labeled magnet from the front to the back of the bus.
  • The team observed the use of Procare check-in system for all families.
  • The team observed all outdoor play areas and spaces are fenced and locked.
  • We saw the use the use of a Zono sanitation device.
  • The overall maintenance of the school facilities was observed to be safe and healthy.

Throughout the two days on site, the Review Team observed leaders and the owner talking with parents, visitors, staff, and children in friendly, caring tones. Construction noises were heard and could have been disturbing. However, the leaders and staff were professional and calm in tone and actions.

Kids Harbor of Old Peachtree

Powerful Practice Statement:

“Teachers and staff consistently pursue building meaningful relationships with parents, children, the community, and each other.”

Evidence:

Parents unanimously remarked that the part of Kids Harbor’s mission statement that stood out as the best trait was “nurturing.”

  • One parent commented that their service goes beyond the building, reminiscing of when flowers were sent to her when she was in the hospital.
  • Another parent commented on the support she received at a hospital when staff members went with her to help explain observations concerning her son to the medical team.
  • Parents mentioned that they looked forward to many family-staff activities such as Trunk-or-Treat and movie nights in which students, parents, and staff got a chance to interact and have fun.
  • All parents agreed on the parent survey that they participate in quality school activities.
  • When asked on parent surveys if their families were treated with courtesy and respect, 97% agreed.
  • All classrooms featured pictures of each student’s family and are referred to during learning activities and diaper changes.

Pictures on walls showed many team building activities and staff retreats for staff to build strong relationships and share ideas and best practices.

The team observed adults and students welcomed with smiles and greetings as they entered the building and into classrooms. During two days, the team observed teachers and staff correcting behaviors privately with low, respectful tones and usually began with “my friend.”

On the Environmental Rating for Early Learning, the team rated the Supportive and Learning Environments the highest with a 3.24 average. “If I ever have a problem or need something, I can go to whoever I need to go to,” mentioned one interviewed teacher as others nodded in agreement.

School leaders described how Kids Harbor offered opportunities for parents, children, and staff to get involved with giving back to the community by holding linen drives, providing photography sessions, and remodeling playgrounds at a local center, Home of Hope. Kids Harbor also participated in a 5K for a local charity,“Tripp’s Trot,” where they had a display tent to provide bananas to runners.

Kids Harbor of Rosebud

Powerful Practice Statement:

“The owner and leaders promote a culture based on high expectations, trust, support, and collaboration.”

Evidence:

Significant improvements since 2014 have been made to a former neglected daycare facility that has become [Kids Harbor of Rosebud] Early Learning Center. The two owner families have spent well over $300,000 to renovate and refurbish the building with new, higher quality finishes and equipment. The current school building has a welcoming and calming atmosphere.

The halls and classrooms are filled with children’s work including the focus of the month on a famous artist, a color, and a shape. The classrooms are spacious and bright. Furnishings and technology are age-appropriate and up-to-date.

The owner described the renovations, positive milestones, and future plans in an overview with photos. The implemented Core Knowledge Curriculum and KinderMusik (music and movement) were observed. The Georgia Bright From the Start developmental standards and goals were evident in the pre-kindergarten through observations and review of reports.

Collaborative staff teams within the school and across schools share ideas and strategies. A two-year professional learning plan was reviewed. The owners and leaders provide the teaching staff with at least two budgeting processes and these forms were provided as evidence. One is from the school’s supply order company and the other is open for teachers to complete all other budget requests. The teachers said that the director offers to get whatever is needed for their lesson plans.

There are multiple community support activities that include leaders, families, and staff. The Home of Hope for homeless families is one example. There are several other community support activities for the children and their families. Examples reviewed include:

  • Gardening with Grandparents in the school’s Outdoor Classroom
  • Trunk or Treat
  • Muffins for Moms
  • Donuts for Dads
  • Thanksgiving Feast
  • and more

Food and nutrition services are provided under the government’s lunch program for schools, and the small kitchen and nutrition staff member appeared to be organized. Children were observed being served and eating nutritious lunches and snacks. This was observed over the two days on site.

Parents state that they are very satisfied with the daily and weekly communications from teachers about their children’s progress and needs.

  • One parent stated that the leaders know every child’s name and parents’ names.
  • Another said that the staff and leaders are always friendly and supportive.
  • A parent said, “I just walk right into Sabrina’s office and tell her why I am here. I can always talk to her about my child.”
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