High School Learning Specialist
HIGH SCHOOL FACULY: LEARNING SPECIALIST
Our High School Learning Specialists are essential to our success as a faculty and school. They use their expertise in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles and effective methods for differentiation to make sure the curriculum and instruction reflect our students’ unique talents, needs, and multiple intelligences. Our learning specialists value developing strong partnerships with students and families to ensure students are on the path towards becoming empowered, critical, and engaged members of their school, their community, and the world at large.
Unity Preparatory Charter School of Brooklyn (Unity) is an independent charter school that proudly serves the community of central Brooklyn in New York City. We are currently in our fourth year and serve 400 students in grades 6-9. Over the next three years, we will continue to grow one grade level per year until we reach full size in 2019 with approximately 700 students in grades 6-12. We look forward to the graduation of our founding class in the spring of 2020.
In preparation for the 2017-18 school year, we are now seeking to add to our strong team of gifted educators to lead in building a middle/high school of distinction that truly equips our students with the skills, knowledge, mindset and experiences to realize their postsecondary aspirations and positively contribute to the well being of their communities.
Every day, the school community at Unity works as a team to empower our students. Though the scope of each staff member’s daily tasks and responsibilities is broad, we aim to align all elements of our work with the school’s mission: to empower students as scholars and citizens so that they may lead fulfilling academic, personal, and professional lives. This mission is the heart of our school, informing our choices and uniting our community under one shared purpose.
As a young and growing school, Unity strives to continuously strengthen its rigorous academic program in the liberal arts & sciences. Unity teachers are creators and collaborators, developing curriculum that is designed with our specific students in mind. Our students are at the center of all that we do at Unity, and our structures and systems reflect that. We prioritize differentiated academic support, offer extended learning time, and expose students to an ever-expanding array of enrichment clubs and learning opportunities outside the classroom. Additionally, we are building a supportive school culture that emphasizes empathy and fosters students’ socio-emotional development.
As a school and learning community, we believe that:
- Students Rise to the Level of Expectations Placed Upon Them: To ensure student success, Unity staff members provide support commensurate with the high expectations placed upon students, both in the form of academic support and support in character development.
- Diversity Matters: We firmly believe that educational equity is best achieved, and academic learning is most profound, in diverse school settings. Our community draws strength from the rich experiences of each student.
- Applications Expand the School Environment: To supplement students’ academic learning, we provide students opportunities to apply classroom knowledge to real world experiences. This requires going beyond the school’s walls so that students may meaningfully interact with and positively contribute to the local community. The typical school day cannot provide such a program – we thus offer an extended school day and school year.
- A Positive School Culture is Powerful: Our core values, the code of conduct, the enrichment programs, and the attitudes and behavior of the staff breed a culture in which students experience a sense of unity with classmates, understand the power of being highly educated, and take responsibility for their own learning. We complement academic education with training on managing emotions and developing character strengths including our Core Values of Awareness, Initiative, Courage, Inquiry, Kindness and Integrity.
- Strong Teaching is a Central Lever in Promoting Student Learning: Recruiting, developing, and retaining exceptional teachers is an absolute priority for us. We reward teachers generously for their contributions to student learning. Likewise, we provide ample, on-going opportunities for teachers to develop their skills, establish and meet goals, and be challenged to reach their full potential as educators.
- Assessment Beyond Standardized Exams: We believe that using standardized test results as the sole measure of a student’s academic progress leads to an incomplete understanding of the student’s overall ability and potential to excel. An annual year-end presentation of a portfolio of work spanning the entire year is a more comprehensive and informative representation of a student’s learning. These Roundtable presentations also reveal a student’s interpersonal skills and development as a citizen. When examining standardized test data, it is imperative that a student’s growth is celebrated as prominently as the student’s actual proficiency level.
- Sharing Success is Essential: We subscribe to the notion that any school developing innovative practices that successfully promote student learning has a responsibility to share them with other schools.
As a school only in our fourth year of operation, we have enjoyed a number of promising successes. Recent achievements include:
- In 2015, Unity ranked #8 among the city’s 1,200 elementary and middle schools in promoting academic growth in mathematics proficiency.
- In 2016, the percentages of Unity students scoring “proficient” or above in English Language Arts (ELA) grew by 75%.
- In each of the past three years, 98% of students successfully participated in their end-of-year Roundtable presentation – a 45-minute oral presentation given to families, Unity faculty, and community members.
- In the past two years, 100% of our students participated in an afternoon extra-curricular activity in each of our trimesters and 45% of our student body were members of an athletic team.
Based on a citywide survey completed by students’ families, Unity’s satisfaction rates were higher than the citywide average in all categories. Results of special note include:
- 100% reported that Unity has high expectations for their child.
- 99% reported they are satisfied with the education at Unity.
- 98% reported that Unity is keeping their child on track for college, career, and success in life.
- 99% reported that their child receives a wide variety of courses, extracurricular activities, and services, which help keep their child interested in school.
Finally, as a start-up school in which the workload of staff is particularly demanding and schools are thus susceptible to high levels of teacher turnover, we have been very successful in retaining our talented teachers. In our first three years of operation, we enjoyed an average teacher retention rate of approximately 85% (vs. 65% retention across NYC charter schools).
Our faculty plays an essential role in establishing Unity as a model educational institution. Most critically, faculty members equip students with the knowledge and skills needed – including the desire and capacity to learn independently, think critically, and communicate proficiently – in order to experience secondary and postsecondary success. Key responsibilities of the middle school learning specialists include but are not limited to the following:
- Collaboratively plans a rigorous differentiated and engaging curriculum that caters to the unique talents, needs, and multiple intelligences of students with disabilities – such collaborative planning will begin in the summer of 2017
- Implements Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) in integrated co-teaching (ICT) and/or special education teacher support services (SETSS) settings with a focus on teaching to mastery and/or conceptual understanding
- Utilizes data from formative assessments in the classroom and school-wide interim assessments to adjust instruction on a regular basis
- Provides additional remediation and acceleration based on formative assessments so that individual students are appropriately challenged according to their zones of proximal development
- Ensures that classroom time is well-utilized through sound management practices and by developing strong and trusting relationships with students
- Develops, implements, and/or manages individualized behavioral intervention plans to support students meeting established academic and non-academic goals
- Actively participates in opportunities to strengthen her/his own pedagogical skills as well as contributes to the learning of colleagues
- Serves as the advisor to a group of students to support their academic and non-academic growth and development
- Contributes to the school’s smooth and efficient operation by fulfilling required administrative duties and responsibilities and maintaining open and proactive communication with colleagues
- Builds strong relationships with families through consistent communication and in following through on commitments
As professionals, all Unity teachers participate in the school’s innovative teacher career ladder, which provides a formal and transparent pathway for teachers to:
- develop their craft and improve as educators through multiple forms of support and training
- assume titles with commensurate responsibilities while remaining classroom practitioners
- be generously compensated and formally recognized for their positive contributions to the school. For more information on our unique professional ladder and a teaching career at Unity, visit: http://www.unityprep.org/careers/why-teach-at-unity/
A candidate for this position must be equipped with:
- A balance of high expectations and high support, a growth mindset, and an innate joy in working with adolescents
- Demonstrably strong organizational, interpersonal, and classroom/course management skills
- An acumen for actively engaging students in their own learning, academically and non-academically
- A demonstrated openness and responsiveness to constructive feedback and a strong commitment to continuous improvement and professional growth
- A strong work ethic that features organization, multi-tasking, flexibility, an orientation toward solutions, and a pride in meeting deadlines
- Expertise in working with diverse populations of students and families, and in differentiating instruction to fully support the needs of diverse learners
- Strong written and oral communication skills and experience working collaboratively in team settings
- Approaches the profession with maturity, humility, versatility (i.e., embraces the ambiguity and excitement associated with start-ups), and, of course, a sense of humor
- A Bachelor’s Degree and certification to support students with disabilities
The ideal candidate for this position is equipped with:
- At least two years of formal teaching experience at the upper primary or lower secondary level
- Formal teaching experience in New York State with certification
- A proven track record in accelerating student academic growth and mastery
- A demonstrated capacity to plan rigorous and engaging curricula that align to Common Core standards using the Understanding by Design framework
- A Master’s Degree and certification to support students with disabilities
As an equal opportunity employer, Unity Preparatory Charter School of Brooklyn hires without consideration to race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, or disability.