The Athenian School seeks a Head of Upper School. The Upper School Head reports directly to the Head of School and is a member of the senior leadership team. The Head of Upper School is responsible for the day to day operation of academics, all the Upper School programs, residential and community offerings, and all support systems for students and faculty within the Upper School. As the leader of the residential program, the Upper School Head must live on campus.
Commitment to the Athenian Mission The Upper School Head is responsible for the daily life of the Upper School. As such, the Head models commitment to the Athenian Mission, our history as a progressive school, the six Pillars of Round Square, and cultural competence. Not only is the Head able to communicate the School’s core qualities and ideals to prospective families, faculty, parents, and students, the Upper School Head must embody these qualities and ideals.
Leadership The Upper School Head is a leader who is committed to the education of students through all of Athenian’s varied programs, dedicated to Athenian’s long history as a boarding school, is collaborative with colleagues, and works closely with a highly skilled and passionate teaching staff. The Upper School Head supports innovation (e.g., project-based, experiential, and interdisciplinary education) and instructional excellence among faculty, fostering a strong instructional program while allowing faculty to take risks and experiment in the classroom.
Collaboration The Upper School Head collaborates and leads a talented group of devoted faculty who have a deep passion for Athenian’s mission and program. This position works with the Head of School, Middle School Head, Director of Teaching and Learning, and other administrators to ensure a smooth running of the entire 6-12 program and curriculum. As a member of the senior leadership team, the Upper School Head is also responsible for forwarding Athenian’s overall strategic vision and supporting all its programs and initiatives.
Communication A primary responsibility of the Upper School Head is communicating with students, faculty, and parents. The person in this position does so in an articulate, fair, empathic, and transparent manner, both orally and in written materials. The Upper School Head is comfortable and confident interacting with each of these constituencies. Empathic and respectful communication in difficult interpersonal situations, and calm leadership in ministering to the entire school when such leadership is needed, are essential skills as the Upper School Head.
Opportunities and Challenges The new Upper School Head will be coming into Athenian at a very exciting time. The School is in the midst of a capital campaign, a $25M construction project, and new academic initiatives. These provide ample leadership opportunities for the new Head of Upper School.
“Engaged Learning” “Engaged learning” has become our shorthand for project-based, experiential, and interdisciplinary learning. Athenian has a fifty-year history in “learning by doing” and we already offer many engaged learning experiences to our students that emphasize mastery. Athenian wants to boldly lead into the future of education, building on our experience and expertise while knowing that learning by doing is the most powerful way to serve our students. The School is in the midst of a process that may result in significant changes to our curricular offerings, graduation requirements, daily schedule, and annual calendar to best support engaged learning and student wellness.
A Unified 6-12 School The Upper School and Middle School, historically, have been two “separate” schools serving the same mission. Both provide extremely powerful education, but senior leadership and the Board believe that more coordination and collaboration will better serve all our students and teachers. Accordingly, the Upper School Head will take over at a time when the School has made it a strategic priority to be a unified 6-12 school. While the separate developmental needs of the two schools must be respected and acknowledged, the schools should better collaborate in making curricular and other decisions. Today, while there is some cross-divisional collaboration (e.g., Middle School students taking Upper School classes), the two divisions function relatively independently with distinct programs and minimal interaction between faculties. There is occasionally a sense of competition and mistrust across the divisions and the new Upper School Head will work closely with the Middle School Head to foster community between the divisions to best support all of our students. The Upper School Head will be a champion of the Upper School while simultaneously building bridges with the Middle School.
Master Plan Implementation In recent years, the School has been concerned with the state of its facility and whether the classrooms and other buildings best supported the way we want to teach. In 2011, Athenian commissioned a master plan for the School. Working with Mithun architects and Turner Construction, the School completed a master planning process and then began implementation of that plan in 2016. From the beginning of construction to its completion in the summer of 2018, the School will complete $25 million dollars of construction. The 30,000 square feet of buildings will include 10 new classrooms (completed fall 2017); the Freeman Commons to house administrative functions and student mailboxes (completed summer 2017); a new Kate and Dyke Brown Hall to replace the original gathering/dining space for the School; and a Carter Innovation Studio. The latter two buildings are estimated to be completed in summer 2018. A $12 million capital campaign (which is 90% complete as of September) supports these efforts.
Boarding Athenian was a boarding only school at its founding (1965) and had more than 200 boarding students at one time. By 2009, that number had decreased to about 35 and the School was concerned that this number wasn’t a critical mass. We formed a Boarding Task Force and hired nationally-known consultant Carol Hotchkiss to inform that work. Since that time, we have improved the overall program and grown it back to 60 students while maintaining the diversity that is so important in a residential setting. While we are proud of the work done to date, there is more to be accomplished. In the years ahead, we will need to continue to improve our residential life program, determine the best approach for our boarding program, determine if we should grow further, and continue to expand our diversity through more domestic students and students representing a wider range of countries.
“Shoes to fill”
The outgoing Head of Upper School has been at Athenian for thirty-seven years and twenty-plus years as Head. This may be a challenge yet also a great opportunity for the next leader. With the support of a collaborative team, a successful candidate will balance the patience to learn the School culture and history, the strategic foresight to imagine Athenian’s education in the future, and the confidence and finesse to move the Upper School forward with their own unique leadership style.
What We’re Seeking in a Candidate The ideal candidate will embody key elements of the desired expertise, experience, and qualities. This is an aspirational list and we encourage candidates to apply who strive for, but may not currently possess, all of these qualities.
Educational Experience & Expertise
Demonstrated high school teaching excellence
Demonstrated commitment to boarding schools and residential programs
Knowledge of experiential, project-based, student-centered, interdisciplinary, and hands-on learning
Experience with curriculum design and development, pedagogy, and assessment
Experience working with international students and families
Technology competence and integration
Knowledge of the college process and students’ admissions needs
Leadership Experience & Expertise
Administrative and senior leadership experience in an independent school
Leadership around social justice, equity, and inclusion
Demonstrated leadership around change
Commitment to faculty leadership, support, and professional development
Strong parent interaction and communication
Excellent communication skills including writing and public speaking abilities
Experience with budget oversight and other financial and human resource matters
Committed to Athenian’s Mission and values
Has impeccable integrity
Culturally competent and committed to equity and inclusion
Able to connect with high-school students
Inclusive, collaborative, consensus-building, and decisive in decision making
Compassionate and empathic, excellent listening skills
Accessible and open-minded, personally interested in community members
Open to criticism and personal growth
Mentoring and team-building orientation
Humility and good humor
How to Apply For initial consideration, please email a resume, cover letter, and 1-2 page education and leadership philosophy statement to Debbie Derana, Assistant to the Head of School, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reference “Athenian US Head” in the subject line. Sending letters of reference is optional at this time. Confidentiality will be maintained at the candidate’s request until the candidate agrees to be a finalist for the position. Please submit your application materials by October 31, 2017.
The Athenian School is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants are evaluated without consideration of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. For more information, visit www.athenian.org.
Additional Salary Information: Athenian’s salary and benefits are competitive and include medical, vision, and dental insurance, a retirement plan, a smoke-free environment, and prepared meals.
The Athenian School is a distinctive independent school that prepares its students for college and for lives of meaning and purpose. Athenian encourages students to become life-long learners and infuses them with confidence, independence, personal responsibility and a sense of community. Enrollment in grades 6-12 is 524 students, including 58 boarding students, 48 of whom are international studen...ts. For more information about Athenian’s unique educational program, applicants are encouraged to visit our website: www.athenian.org.
Every employee is an Athenian community member, and as such, embraces the cornerstones of Athenian’s philosophy: respect; open, direct communication; honesty; fairness; responsibility; and dedication to the students in their intellectual and personal growth. Additionally, active support for environmental conservation, international understanding, equity, inclusion, justice, participatory government, outdoor education, and service is essential. Cultural competence is an expectation of employment for all teaching and professional staff at Athenian. As a school that from its founding has valued the worth and integrity of each individual, we are particularly interested in candidates with a proven commitment to teaching and working in a diverse, multicultural setting.
Athenian School strives to attract and retain a faculty and staff of the highest caliber. We have a unique community here, filled with many differing opinions, backgrounds, ideologies and experiences. We have students from all over the globe, our families include a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads, single parents, guardians and stepparents. We have many faiths and those who are non-observant. We represent all income levels. What we share is a belief in Athenian’s mission. By embracing diversity in all forms — gender and gender identity, sexuality, faith, ethnicity, socio-economic status — we encourage students to take intellectual risks, to challenge their own assumptions and to learn to work collaboratively as global citizens and advocates for positive change. We ask that all candidates take time to read about Athenian’s history and philosophy.
The Athenian School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, faith, sex, gender or gender expression, age, ability, sexual orientation, familial or marital status. The Athenian School is actively seeking to create a more culturally diverse school community and as such, we encourage people of color and members of the LGBTIQ community to apply.