Recognition of Communities of Spiritual Development
CSEE’s recognition of schools for practices to foster spiritual life attests to a school’s ongoing work to meet, at a high level, criteria generally accepted as those that foster climates where students can develop spiritually, and thrive.
Recognition does not intend to guarantee either the spiritual rigor at the school or a high measure of success in developing spirituality, but rather that the school shows evidence of having in place a set of standards and practices to establish and maintain the kind of climate where the spirit can flourish.
Schools will be recognized on this web site beginning in the fall of 2010, and school membership certificates will note the school’s recognition as a “School of Excellent Practice.” Recognition may be renewed every three years.
See a list of schools recognized to-date.
- Spiritual development, as well as academic growth, is explicit in school’s mission. (If it is not in the mission itself, a statement of the school’s commitment to the development of both academic and spiritual life is prominently placed on the school’s web site and in promotional literature.) Verified via documentation submitted.
- The school has a thoughtful approach to fostering spiritual life, including (at least general) goals it aims to achieve. (This may take a variety of forms, but it should include what might be done to reach the goals, and who might contribute to helping implement the approach.) Verified via documentation submitted.
- The school has in place a plan to evaluate and fine tune levels of success in its program. (Evaluation need not be extensive or scientifically sophisticated, but it should be aimed at assessing with something other than anecdotal data where the school’s program is making progress and where additional strategies may be called for.) Verified via documentation submitted.
- The school's stance toward other religious traditions is one of respect.
- School trustees or governing body have affirmed, and demonstrate, their support of the school’s stance on the development of spiritual life. Examples might include:
- A seat on the board specifically reserved for a person with expertise in spiritual development or education;
- The board annually reviews and affirms its position on spiritual education and the development of a spiritual climate;
- A standing agenda item on spiritual development or spiritual education for board meetings;
- Standing sub-committees responsible for studying and reporting on specific spiritual education issues;
Verified via documentation or statement submitted; and or via evaluation visit or phone interview.
- An individual or group at the school is either designated to oversee, or recognized as overseeing the planning, implementation, and continual improvement of the school’s program for spiritual development. (Good school-wide programs—for reading, for language arts, for athletics or for character education, as well as for spiritual life—develop because they have been organized and fine-tuned with the assistance or oversight of some individual or committee.) Verified via documentation submitted; interview during evaluation visit.
Training of Faculty
- Development of the spirit is an ongoing concern at the school, and faculty are involved in at least periodic education or training to be of assistance. (Goals are more attainable when those responsible for working toward them understand them and have the skills needed to help attain them. The education or training addressed here can be “in-house” or via outside sources.) Verified via documentation or statement submitted; interview during evaluation visit.
- The school’s approach to the development of the spirit is integrated into the curriculum. (This does not mean every class or every day, but evidence is strong that integration into various parts of the curriculum furthers goals. The key here is that teachers have carefully considered ways in which the content of their classes can be approached "through the lens of spiritual development," such that assignments, choice of materials, instructional process, ways of structuring class discussion, etc. can be seen as furthering the school's goals.) Verified via documentation submitted.
- Students recognize that the school has goals for moral and ethical development, and are able to articulate, even if imperfectly, what the goals are. Verified via student interviews at evaluation visit.
- Students feel that the school is a place that is, or can be, conducive to spiritual growth, as opposed to being a place where discussions regarding religion or spirituality are counter-cultural. Verified via student survey and or interviews at evaluation visit.
How are these standards verified?
The procedure aims to be a simple as possible for schools. On many points (e.g., how issues of spirituality are integrated into the curriculum), a school’s written word is taken in trust, based on what is stated in the written documentation form. Certain other points (e.g., mission or school statement on the spiritual life) can be verified from the school’s web site or promotional materials. Each application must also include a one-day visit to the school (to include visiting key individuals, and interaction with the student body as arranged with the school) by a CSEE staff member, a member of CSEE’s Spiritual Development Team, or other individual designated by CSEE.
What costs are associated with this visit?
CSEE will charge a modest fee for the visit. To the extent possible, evaluators will come from as nearby a location as possible.
To begin a conversation about obtaining "Recognition of Communities of Spiritual Development" for your school, please contact us.