Middle School Social Worker (2016-2017)

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MIDDLE SCHOOL FACULTY: Social Worker for the 2016-2017 School Year

Our Middle School Social Workers are absolutely essential to our success as a faculty and school. They manage a wide variety of student needs, ensuring that barriers to student learning are identified and that supports are put in place for our students and families.  In doing so, they guide our students to be empowered, critical, and engaged members of their school, their community, and the world at large.

Overview

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.

About Unity

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).

Responsibilities

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 social worker include but are not limited to the following:

I. Identification & Evaluation

  • Screens and identifies students for evaluation and possible interventions based on prior school records, daily attendance, disciplinary referrals,, anecdotal reports from teachers, and ongoing  referrals from teachers and counselors
  • Contacts parents, recommends a formal evaluation, and refers students to the Committee of Special Education (CSE) to determine eligibility for any special education service or accommodation for students not responding adequately to the school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) Tier III interventions

II. Interventions

  • Provides one-on-one or group counseling in compliance with student Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
  • Facilitates specially designed small-group interventions for students who consistently violate Unity’s Code of Conduct to create timely, efficient, and flexible solutions to behavioral issues – such interventions may include small group, “pull-out” sessions on social skills, conflict resolution, violence prevention, which result in a plan with specific strategies to be monitored over a period of one week
  • Conducts regular needs-assessments of current and emerging student and family needs 

III. Communication and Oversight

  • Meets regularly with the Head of School, Director of Culture & Enrichment, Director of Support Services, and Dean of Students to analyze school-wide and individual disciplinary data and evaluate the school environment to ensure that it is safe and conducive to learning
  • Serves on the school’s Student Support Team (SST) in supporting students who fail to respond to interventions

IV. Staff Support

  • Provides general education teachers, special education teachers, and learning specialists with information and professional development to identify and best support the needs of students and families
  • Works with the Director of Culture & Enrichment to develop and implement curriculum for social and emotional development/intervention with students

V. Compliance and Record Management

  • Manages administrative and appropriate direct-service elements of the referral process for social services and special education services
  • Administers records, documentation, and other compliance activities

VI. External Services

  • Refers individuals and families to external resources and services
  • Monitors and facilitates the delivery of external resources and services
  • Evaluates impact and quality of external resources and services
  • Acts as a representative for Unity in consortia, cooperatives, and professional organizations to better leverage resources and coordinate services
  • Conducts needs-assessments to identify and cultivate internal and external resources and services

VII. Communication with Families

  • Partners with school leadership and staff to conduct home visits and records procurement for newly enrolled students
  • Partners with the Family & Community Partnership Coordinator to design and coordinate family-engagement and family-education activities including monthly community meetings

VIII. Other

  • Performs other operations-related tasks consistent with the goals and objectives of this position

Qualifications

The ideal candidate for this position is equipped with:

  • A proven track record of supporting student learning; at least two years of formal social work experience in schools preferred
  • Prior school administrative experience or other relevant leadership experience; demonstrably strong organizational and case-management skills
  • Expertise in working with diverse populations of students and families
  • An acumen for actively engaging students in their own learning and social and emotional development
  • Highly efficient, attentive to detail, motivated and able to multi-task, set priorities and establish and meet deadlines
  • Strong written and oral communication skills including an acumen for participating in sensitive conversations
  • Excellent interpersonal and customer service skills
  • A disposition toward teamwork and collaboration
  • A demonstrated openness and responsiveness to constructive feedback and a strong commitment to continuous improvement and professional growth
  • 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