Founding Principal of the Upper School (2016-2017)

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FOUNDING PRINCIPAL OF THE UPPER SCHOOL

Unity’s Founding Principal of the Upper School position is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a talented school leader to design, implement, and realize the vision for a high school that empowers students as scholars and citizens.  She/he will be responsible for creating and leading a strong team of talented educators who are devoted to developing an excellent high school that well serves the community of central Brooklyn.

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.

In the 2016-17 school year, we will open our doors to our first cohort of ninth grade students.  We are now seeking to bring together a strong team of gifted educators to lead in building a 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.

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

Unity’s Founding Principal of the Upper School has the privilege of building on what we have started with our lower school.  She/he will also have the privilege of serving a vast majority of our founding class of 6th graders who are eager to continue to our high school.

The key responsibilities of the Founding Principal of Unity’s Upper School include but are not limited to the following:

  • Collaborates with the Head of School and others to establish and achieve the upper school’s mission- and vision-aligned, annual and multi-year goals and benchmarks
  • Builds and maintains an open, cheerful, solution-oriented, results-driven professional community that is relentlessly committed to refinement and self-improvement and is firmly grounded in the school’s mission
  • Ensures clear and open systems of communication among staff through meetings, written communication, and other forms of correspondence
  • Leads in the planning, development, and implementation of a rigorous and comprehensive, college-preparatory curriculum in the liberal arts & sciences that effectively  accommodates learners of all styles, levels and talents
  • Serves as an instructional leader through coaching (modeling, observing, providing feedback, etc.) and professional development at the individual, team, or content-based, and faculty-wide levels
  • Evaluates teachers and select administrators and collaborates with others to recruit, hire, develop and retain high-capacity team members
  • Builds, maintains, and refines systems to collect, analyze and act on assessment data of all forms to maximize student learning
  • Collaborates with others to establish and maintain a safe, positive, clear, consistent and pro-learning school culture in which the school’s Core Values of Awareness, Integrity, Courage, Initiative, Kindness, and Inquiry are reinforced and celebrated
  • Coordinates with operations to ensure smooth and efficient systems that support student learning including but not limited to maintaining accurate student records and providing staff with adequate supplies and resources
  • Works with others to ensure that the school offers an extensive program of extracurricular activities that best caters to student interests and best promotes student participation in endeavors that will inform their postsecondary goals and aspirations
  • Establishes and manages strong systems of communication with parents and guardians so that students are fully and supported in their learning within and beyond the school building in a coherent and comprehensive manner
  • Actively engages community members in school-related initiatives and programs in advancing the mission of the school

Qualifications

A strong candidate for our Founding Principal of the Upper School possesses the following:

  • A deep conviction in Unity’s vision, mission, and philosophy
  • The highest level of integrity and an unwavering optimism that inspires others
  • A commitment to expanding opportunities that address the existing inequities in education
  • Demonstrated capacities in building and serving on highly-functioning teams as reflected by shared goals and ownership, and a deeply-rooted sense of collaboration in which each member’s unique talents are utilized for the betterment of the team
  • A proven track record of promoting student learning as a teacher and administrator; at least five years of formal teaching experience and at least three years of administrative/instructional leadership experience preferred
  • A nuanced understanding of what it means to be fully equipped to engage in postsecondary education and the preparation it requires at the high school level
  • Superb organizational, self-management, and problem-solving skills
  • Highly efficient, attentive to detail, motivated and able to multi-task, set priorities and establish and meet deadlines
  • Excellent interpersonal and customer service skills
  • Expertise in working with diverse populations of students and families, and in supporting the needs of diverse learners
  • Strong written and oral communication skills including an acumen for participating in sensitive conversations and for delivering candid feedback and holding others accountable
  • Models for others an 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
  • Master’s degree from an accredited college or university

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.