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Accreditation Reflects Commitment to Excellence

Great Circle Academy (GCA) recently earned re-accreditation from the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS), which serves as the primary accrediting body for elite private schools. Schools must complete the on-site accreditation process every seven years. It includes a comprehensive self-study, a survey of the school community and an immersive visit from ISACS representatives.

“Throughout your campus — literally, everywhere — there is someone waiting to serve a student.”

Peppy Howard-Willms, who retired from her position as Vice President of Education in July, made it her mission to cap her Great Circle tenure by successfully shepherding the schools through this re-accreditation process.

“Everyone on our education team was part of the effort,” Howard-Willms says. “With six campuses across Missouri serving almost 500 students each school day, gathering the information and feedback we needed for this process took so much communication and organization.”

“Your entire team resonates compassion, dedication to the Model of Care, courage and expertise.”

The final phase of the accreditation process came in January 2020, when the ISACS nine-person team visited Great Circle’s school sites. They examined the entire student experience — from admissions procedures to facilities and curriculum to extracurricular activities and student support systems. The team also reviewed Great Circle’s relationships with parents, communities and school districts.

“You embrace the value of relationships and connections with vulnerable individuals who need relationships and connections the most!”

Notification of the re-accreditation arrived in late May. While Howard-Willms was confident ISACS would certify GCA’s accreditation, she was extremely gratified by the reviewers’ personal comments about their visit.

“These are all things I believe and see happening every day at GCA,” Howard-Willms says. “We have the most dedicated staff, and I’m thrilled the outside reviewers saw this, too.”

“Expertise and keen problem-solving skills reside in each classroom, school setting and administrative office.”

In their 58-page report, the ISACS team also commended the GCA staff for consistently ensuring the “safety, security and well-being of the entire school community” through implementation of its trauma-informed approach and a Model of Care that spurs “transformational growth.”

“You are elite in your selfless service. We admire who you are and what you are doing.”

And for the students and families we serve, Howard-Willms says ISACS accreditation provides an extra layer of confidence that they’re in the right place. “We seek out this prestigious accreditation because ISACS’ process is extremely rigorous. Our students and their parents deserve to know they’re getting an educational experience that not only delivers on their emotional and behavioral needs but also provides the academic excellence they want and deserve.”