Middle School Dean of Students (2016-2017)
MIDDLE SCHOOL FACULTY: Dean of Students for the 2016-2017 School Year
Our Middle School Deans of Students are absolutely essential to our success as a faculty and school. The Deans ensure that our learning environment is safe and respectful and that school-wide expectations are consistently followed. However, they are much more than enforcers of our Code of Conduct; Unity’s Deans spearhead our unique approach to school culture – one that balances holding students accountable with ample care and support, addressing the individual needs of students and providing valuable learning experiences. Unity’s Deans specialize in cultivating strong relationships with students and their families and lead the way in promoting positive reinforcement and interventions.
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 third year and serve 320 sixth, seventh and eighth graders and their families. Over the next four 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.
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 in only our third year of operation, we have enjoyed a number of promising successes. Recent academic achievements for the 2014-15 school year include:
- Unity ranked #8 among the city’s 1,200 elementary and middle schools in promoting academic growth in mathematics proficiency.
- Unity students ranked in the 59th and 75th percentiles in academic growth in ELA and mathematics, respectively – meaning that our students grew, on average, more than the typical student with similar backgrounds and skills at the outset of the school year.
- Unity’s most academically needy one-third of students ranked in the 82nd and 78th percentiles in academic growth in ELA and mathematics, respectively.
- The percentages of Unity students scoring “proficient” or above in ELA and mathematics grew by 51% and 88%, respectively.
In addition to demonstrating accelerated growth across multiple assessment measures, our students showed progress in a myriad of other ways:
- 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 and supporters.
- 100% of our students participated in an afternoon extra-curricular activity in each of our trimesters in 2014-2015.
- Close to 50% of our student body participated in a team sport in 2014-15 – for many, this was a first-time experience.
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 two years of operation, we enjoyed an average teacher retention rate of approximately 90% (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 dean of students include but are not limited to the following:
I. Management of Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports (PBIS)
- Models the school’s values and standards for professional conduct; consistently demonstrates best practices for communicating with students, staff, and families
- Works with Director of Culture & Enrichment to ensure that the school’s policies and procedures for holding all students to high behavioral expectations as stated in the Code of Conduct are understood and promoted/enforced with consistency across all staff
- Works with Director of Culture & Enrichment to devise positive behavioral incentives, morale builders, and events and special rewards to promote school spirit
- Serves as a point person for dealing with behavioral crisis-intervention and acute behavioral issues
- Directs the staff-wide implementation of the school’s PBIS tier one interventions according to the Code of Conduct
- Directs PBIS tier two interventions for students who consistently violate the school’s Code of Conduct – such interventions will primarily involve the facilitation of restorative circles and the institution of other restorative practices to engage students in collaborative problem solving.
- Directs PBIS tier three interventions for students who engage in serious problem behaviors – such interventions involve referring students to the Student Support Team for case study, establishing a conference with families, conducting a formal evaluation and, if necessary, incorporating the support of a local agency for individualized services
- Participates in Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) and ensures that students’ Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) are followed as specified
- Maintains accurate and up-to-date student conduct data and records regarding interventions, including Core Values and Setbacks earned by students, behavioral contracts, conferences held, awards and acknowledgements, detentions, suspensions, and communication with families
II. Teacher Support/Classroom Support
- Ensures that teachers understand Unity’s Code of Conduct, enforce it consistently and fairly, and follow established protocols; consults with Director of Culture & Enrichment when Code is not enforced appropriately and/or protocols are not followed
- Proactively communicates with teachers and visits classrooms to model Love & Logic techniques and strategies in order to strengthen student-teacher relationships and promote positive behaviors
- Provides prompt classroom support to teachers when requested; follows established protocols for addressing students who demonstrate problem behaviors
- Works with the Director of Culture & Enrichment to facilitate professional development offerings that promote sound behavioral management practices in the classroom and ensure universal understanding of PBIS, Love & Logic, and Restorative Practices
III. Oversight of Common Spaces
- Ensures that common spaces, including the hallways and bathrooms, are clean, safe, orderly, and reflect a pro-learning culture; promotes the student ownership of these spaces through various initiatives
- Proactively circulates and is highly present and visible in the school’s common spaces during school hours (including student arrival and departure) to maintain safe, orderly, pro-learning school environment
- Works with school leadership to support staff’s implementation of best practices and procedures in actively promoting a safe, orderly, pro-learning environment in common spaces
IV. Administration of Reflection, Detention, and Day Long Reflection
- Oversees, manages, and administers the school’s reflections and detentions, including managing and communicating required attendance and communicating with families
- Oversees day long reflection, including the supervision of students, the management of their course assignments, establishment of restorative solutions, and communication with families
- Communicates with students’ families as necessary to keep families abreast of any observed changes in an individual student’s conduct
- Meets regularly with the PBIS Team to analyze PBIS data as well as to discuss individual students and their behavior patterns and how to best support students through specific interventions
- Meets with grade-level teams weekly to discuss PBIS data and discuss possible interventions based on data
- Oversees school-wide practices for arrival and dismissal to ensure student safety
- Serves on the school’s PBIS Team to conduct case studies and monitor the performance and behavior of students identified as potentially needing additional support
- May serve as an Advisor to 12-15 students throughout their time at Unity
- Performs other operations-related tasks consistent with the goals and objectives of this position
The ideal candidate for this position is equipped with:
- A proven track record of promoting student success inside and outside of schools; at least two years of formal experience in working with adolescents
- Leadership experience in developing positive school culture, including a deep knowledge of social-emotional needs of students as evidenced by certifications held and/or research conducted
- Familiarity with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Teaching with Love & Logic, and Restorative Practices
- Approaches behavior problems as “teachable moments” wherein students investigate the root cause of their behavior and take initiative to improve it; understands that through this process, students see themselves as young people whose opinions and agency are respected
- Believes every child is “at-promise” and does not simply label a child as a “behavior problem” when she/he misbehaves
- Strong analytical skills and a proficiency in analyzing data via Microsoft Excel
- Expertise in working with diverse populations of students and families and in differentiating support to address the needs of diverse learners; familiarity with Unity’s student population and the community to be served
- 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
- Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written; strong interpersonal skills with students, parents, colleagues, and community members; experience working collaboratively in team settings
- Approaches the profession with maturity, humility, versatility (i.e., embraces the ambiguity and excitement associated with start-ups), a solutions-mindedness with a strong work ethic, and, of course, a sense of humor
- Bachelor’s degree is required
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.