John Milledge Academy has continued to strive for student excellence for the past 42 years while looking for ways to move the school forward. JMA recently completed the necessary steps to officially become a SAIS (Southern Association of Independent Schools) accredited member school.
“We’re always in the pursuit of excellence. We’re very proud to have JMA step up to the plate,” said Mark Hopkins, JMA’s head of school. “The SAIS accreditation will keep us moving forward.”
JMA has been accredited by GAC (Georgia Accrediting Commission) since 1971. When Hopkins came on board as the head of school in 2010, he immediately kicked off plans and initiatives to earn the regional accreditation status by SAIS.
“This is the newest feather in our cap to be regionally accredited by SAIS, which is in 44 states,” he said. “We were judged by the same standards that every school goes through the process to get accredited. We passed with flying colors.”
To earn accreditation from SAIS, JMA complied with quality standards, was evaluated by an outside group of peer professionals, and implemented a school plan focused on strategic improvement and student performance in accordance with the school’s mission.
“It was great for the school to look really hard at itself through the outside and inside. I’m just super excited about it. It puts us on the same playing field as everybody else,” Hopkins said. “The process was time consuming and it took us a good three years to get here, but it was well worth the effort.”
In October, an SAIS team conducted an on-site visit to review the school’s self-study, standards compliance and adherence to its mission. The team was comprised of diverse educational leaders from throughout the southeast. JMA received word last week that the school officially became an accredited member of SAIS.
“In two and a half years, the accreditation committee will get back in touch with us to report where we started in 2013 and where we are going in 2015,” Hopkins said. “We’ll be keeping data. We will work on our weaknesses and stand on our strengths.”
Founded in 1971 with 185 students, JMA now has 520 students enrolled in grades pre-K through 12. The school offers a college preparatory education and currently offers five different Advanced Placement courses for high school students, along with dual enrollment opportunities with Georgia College.
“I can’t say thank you enough to faculty, staff, the board of trustees, students and parents. I’m humbled by how hard they worked,” Hopkins said. “[JMA Assistant Head of School] Ray Davis was the accreditation chair, and I appreciate everything he has done.”
SAIS works at the state, regional and national levels to serve and strengthen member schools through the promotion of the highest quality educational standards and ethical conduct. The mission of SAIS is to provide leadership, accreditation services and professional development resources that will strengthen member schools as they fulfill their missions.
“We want our students to be critical thinkers, be able to communicate in the world, and serve others as they leave JMA,” Hopkins said. “It’s pretty momentous for JMA to move in this direction.”