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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



• 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.



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.



• 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.



HLA Strengths and Challenges Document  

Describes HLA's Strengths and Challenges in relation to the standards set forth in the MNSAA accreditation process.