At its meeting on November 6, 2018, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) voted to accredit NESS as a school partner program. This decision makes NESS the first school partner program to be accredited by the oldest accreditation agency in the country.
Founded in 2002 as a community sailing program, NESS has evolved to become an important partner to schools throughout New England. As a nationally-recognized and award-winning ocean adventure STEM education nonprofit, NESS provides students of all ages with year-round programming that includes marine science, sailing, powerboating, and adventure sports. NESS partners with schools to deliver in-the-classroom and on-the-water learning for students across New England.
NESS sought accreditation to demonstrate its commitment and passion to provide the highest quality educational experience for all students, complementing and enhancing students’ traditional school experiences. The NEASC accreditation process combined with the peer review will help NESS continue to advance its mission, vision, core values, and curriculum to address the ever-changing educational landscape.
Spike Lobdell, NESS’s president, founder, and CEO, stated: “This accreditation underscores the quality and effectiveness of our programs, reinforces our education mission, and validates we are serving the needs of our students. As a partner to schools throughout New England, we should be held to the highest standards of educational excellence. We could not be prouder of this accomplishment.”
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, founded in 1885, is the oldest accrediting agency in the country and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the sole agency to award Accreditation to PreK-12 schools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in New England.
To be accredited, an institution must align with NEASC’s Standards for Accreditation. NESS staff members spent over a year completing the self-study portion of the accreditation. This self-study was an opportunity for NESS’s staff to review all education programs, processes, systems, and practices to determine the degree to which the organization aligns with the rigorous NEASC standards. In August and October 2018, a visiting team observed NESS’s programs and reflected on how NESS met the Standards for Accreditation. NEASC’s decision to accredit NESS was based upon review of NESS’s self-study and evaluation reports prepared by the team that visited NESS in August and October.
Of NESS, NEASC remarked: “NESS makes a difference in the lives of the young people it nurtures—sometimes a life-changing difference and sometimes a simple moment of self-confidence gained. We had a distinct sense the people who make NESS what it is regard this opportunity as a genuine and rare privilege. Their commitment will continue to strengthen this exceptional program.”
As an organization, we are incredibly proud of this accomplishment!