STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES The mission of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy is to equip students in a Christ-centered, Bible-based environment for a life of significance.
STANDARD 1 - MISSION AND PHILOSOPHY Strengths: • The school mission statement is communicated effectively on a regular basis. • Since its last accreditation renewal process, the school has revised both mission and philosophy statements to strengthen its vision and purpose. • Testimonies from alumni provide strong affirmations and evidences that the school adheres to its mission and philosophy statements. • The length of service of Hillcrest employees bears witness to their agreement, loyalty and support of the school’s mission and philosophy statements. • The school’s denominational affiliation holds it accountable to a broader mission and calling. Challenges: • To market the school effectively to those unfamiliar with the school’s religious distinctive nature. • To communicate the mission to and maintain a healthy relationship with denominational congregations and local congregations in the Fergus Falls area. • To develop a systematic timeline for evaluation of the mission and philosophy statements.
STANDARD 2 - TEACHING AND LEARNING Strengths: • Shared inherent faith-based curriculum standards • Rigorous classes adhering to Minnesota’s designated “Rigorous Course of Study” track. • Clear classroom discipline guidelines and communication of policies • Ability to do placement test in core areas (online learning lab) • Courses that provide options for all types of learners (CCC, AP courses and OLL) Challenges: • To broaden curriculum depth beyond a textbook driven scope and sequence • Provide staff development related to best practice of technology use in the classroom • To provide clarity on how assessment drives curriculum
STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES
• Develop and implement a plan for all classrooms to have equal access to technology • Provide greater forums for faculty/staff concerning technology needs in the classroom
STANDARD 3 - CLIMATE FOR LEARNING Strengths: • Maximum effective use of current Hillcrest building, with a chapel renovation (2007), acoustically treated Music room (2012), Faculty Workroom remodel (2010), and on-line learning center (2013). • Remodeled classroom section in the summer of 2013 with upgraded electrical and environmental climate control, improved safety, and acoustically treated for sound reduction. • Annual safety inspections and audits of facilities provides a safe environment. • Strong donor support for facility improvement appeals on the HLA campus • Excellent Student Activities Center facility (constructed 2004) meets all expectations for athletic program, and special campus events like Graduation Weekend. • Installation of public address system (2013) • Updated evacuation plans • Automatic handicapped accessible door added to Hillcrest building in Spring 2013. • Restroom updates (new flooring, automatic flush toilets) in Junior High and in Boy’s Dormitory in summer of 2013 • AC rooftop unit installed in SAC for offices and weight room in summer of 2013. • Regularly scheduled fire, tornado, and lock-down drills • The school has 2 defibrillators - one located near the classroom section; one located in the Student Activities Center. • The Resident Life Staff all are CPR certified; one RLS is a certified Lifeguard instructor. • The school has a Health & Safety Committee to heighten the school community’s awareness of health & safety issues and procedures. Challenges: • To develop and implement plan to incorporate video surveillance system for campus. • To develop and implement plan for signage and tactfully designed barriers which limit access onto campus and discourage trespassing. • To address needs for kitchen/cafeteria facility improvements. • Develop and implement plan for total handicap access to on campus residence, including automatic doors in Jr. High building and Activities Center. • Continue strategic implementation of capital campaigns for ongoing facility improvements • Revisit “free and reduced” program to assess benefits versus restrictions on food service.
STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES
STANDARD 4 - COMMUNICATION AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS Strengths: • HLA Today, “Significant” publication, “Hillcrest Connection,” and Annual Report communicate current campus life issues throughout the school year. • Website plays an important role in connecting non-local families (present and potential) with Hillcrest (information, updates, applications, Livestream, calendar, etc.) • Photo and/or video coverage of sports contests and school events (i.e. concerts, banquets & graduation). • Weekly e-mail updates and Facebook presence. • Christian Worldview/School mission profoundly reinforced by artwork in the Hallway. • Live Streaming of Games and other important school events. • Added Staff for marketing and recruitment Challenges: • To transition Tandem calendar online in a timely manner to replace rSchool and Google calendar as the chief means of communicating with our constituents. • To highlight academic performance (ACT, SAT, Stanford, Jets Team and Knowledge Bowl) with equal or equal accessibility to the social and sports highlights. • To provide training to maximize the productivity of the NetClassroom software and improve communication to parents and students relative to their school performance. • Keeping HLA Today & Significant publications in circulation with changing personnel/ scheduling demands.
STANDARD 5 - PERSONNEL Strengths: • Entire faculty holds a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. Seventy percent faculty/ administrators hold 2 or more degrees; 52% of our staff have Masters’ Degrees. • Positive 14:1 student/teacher ratio; and positive 7:1 student to staff ratio. • Diverse age range and gender of faculty and staff. • Longevity of staff provides experience and stability. • First year instructors are being evaluated at least two times in their first year on staff. • “Fresh Breeze” graduate studies initiative Challenges: • To maintain a consistent implementation of faculty/staff evaluation process • To encourage and provide faculty with professional development opportunities • Consistency of data, policies relating to access, and safe and accessible storage in personnel records.
STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES
• Continue clarifying and defining roles among the administration, staff, and faculty with distribution of revised job descriptions. • Review and publishing of written grievance procedure, with written statement of understanding from each employee in file. • Review and updated compliance on all background check applications, authorization forms, and background clearance material. • To move professional development activities beyond mentorship and leadership training, to include curriculum, assessment, and other educational strategies.
STANDARD 6 - LEADERSHIP, ADMINISTRATION, AND GOVERNANCE Strengths: • The school’s governance structure as a subsidiary of an international church body serves as a protection of its religious ministry convictions. • Hillcrest has established salary schedules for faculty, support staff, and administrators which are regularly reviewed and compared to those of similar schools in the region. • Employee and student handbooks are reviewed for policy changes on an annual basis. • Hillcrest has recently hired a full-time business manager who is also a certified public accountant. • Hillcrest has recently hired a full-time admissions director who is improving the admissions process by making forms available on-line and by conducting interviews with applicants, using video conferencing services when necessary (for international students). Challenges: • To provide representation on the Board of Directors from different regions of the country, with the inconvenience of travel to Fergus Falls, Minnesota. • To provide a fair remuneration for faculty, staff, and administration based on average compensation for Christian schools nationally. • To create a more efficient admissions process with a growing number of international students, including many whose parents speak little or no English, and communicate policies to a broad range of backgrounds and situations. • To formalize regular, consistent, written evaluations of school administrators. • To formalize on-going board training. • Providing a process of simplifying the admissions process for returning students. • To develop a system for the effective obtaining of transcripts from prior schools in a timely manner, given the large number of new students who enroll each year.
STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES