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Cross-Divisional Collaboration 8 Years in the Making

The long-standing impact that cross-divisional opportunities have on our students is unparalleled. And while the experiences are memorable for our students, so are they for our faculty and staff.  
 
Teachers typically collaborate across the divisions on learning experiences, but sometimes there are opportunities for cross-divisional collaboration in other areas of the school, such is the case with Sarah Beyreis and Lee Ann Bertsch, who worked together to spearhead the school’s ISACS accreditation this school year.  
 
Sarah Beyreis is the director of college counseling and Lee Ann Bertsch teaches kindergarten. Even though they work with students on opposite ends of the age spectrum, they agreed that this fact proved to be beneficial. 
 
“There was a lot of give and take between us, and we counted on each other's experiences to provide a well-rounded perspective that I think helped us get to a great place,” said Beyreis.  
 
“We may seem like the most unlikely partners because we live completely different lives here despite the fact that we both started working here the same year [2005],” added Bertsch. “But we utilized each other’s strengths and complementary skills and I think we – and the school – are better for it.” 
 
Lee Ann said that Sarah took lead with editing and the “nitty-gritty” components of the report, while she focused on the logistics.  
 
“Lee Ann made it fun. She created these Cincinnati-themed gift bags and planned everything for the visiting team,” said Sarah. “She coordinated an all-school effort and I love how everyone came together to showcase our school.” 
 
The ISACS accreditation process typically occurs every seven years, but this time around it was eight years due to Covid-19. The accreditation team, which consists of employees from independent schools across the country, visited the school in April after receiving and reviewing a comprehensive report prepared by the school. 

“The team’s job is not to evaluate us; they're holding a mirror up for us to ensure we're doing what we say we're doing,” explained Bertsch. “Creating the report is supposed to be a self-evaluative process in which every department and division has the chance to look and say, ‘Are we doing the best we can and how can we improve?’”  
 
After its visit, the accreditation team bestowed on the school a full report, including commendation and recommendations to consider moving forward.   
 
“It was a helpful report that was frank and gave us priorities and outside perspective,” said Beyreis. “It was great to hear that they thought we were a great school and that our morale was fantastic, especially considering how difficult the past couple of years have been.”  
 
Ultimately, both Sarah and Lee Ann agreed it was eye-opening to be involved in the school’s accreditation process. Added to that, it seems a real friendship has formed.   

“The amount of time we spent in meetings and weekends together is unreal,” laughed Bertsch. “But I love that I understand more of what she does and she understands more of what I do, and we understand each other's divisions better. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”