Head-Royce School is a diverse K-12, independent, coeducational college-preparatory day school that offers a challenging and transformative program to educate the whole child. For over 130 years, the School has offered outstanding academic and co-curricular programs. Nestled in the Oakland hills, Head-Royce strives to inspire in its students a lifelong love of learning, an exuberance for academic excellence, an understanding of and respect for the diversity that makes our society strong, and a commitment to global citizenship.
The School is committed to a program of excellence, one that provides opportunities for the intellectual and personal development of each child. Its three core pillars of scholarship, diversity, and citizenship guide everything it does and help cultivate lifelong learners who lead with joy, purpose, and compassion, and are well prepared to embrace the challenges and opportunities of the future.
There are many reasons why the Head-Royce Middle School is such a stimulating place — rigorous but riveting courses; a balance of structure and independence; extracurriculars to find their talents; and a passionate, dedicated faculty. The Middle School educational environment reflects the School’s core values and offers a program in which each student can thrive as they are prepared to be effective global citizens who can face and embrace the challenges and opportunities of the future.
Head-Royce seeks a new Middle School Head to advance the philosophy and mission of the School’s Middle School for students in grades six through eight. The next Middle School Head will be an experienced, visionary leader with a passion for working with students in this age group. Responsibilities for the Middle School Head include overseeing day-to-day operations, academic and co-curricular programs, student life, faculty professional development, and other related aspects of the Middle School. As a member of the senior leadership team, the Middle School Head will work closely and collaboratively with colleagues across the school and in close partnership with the Head of School.
Firmly rooted in its mission and core values, Head-Royce continues to pursue the best possible education for its students as they enter a rapidly changing world. All members of the Head-Royce community—students, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and trustees—strive for a balanced educational environment in which each student can thrive.
Key to each student’s success is the Head-Royce faculty, a group of world-class educators who bring unique perspectives from a wide range of experiences. Their diversity of thought and understanding of student development and different learning styles, alongside their subject-matter mastery, positions them to provide transformative experiences to every student. Faculty are dedicated educators and inspired mentors, experts in their fields, eager to share their enthusiasm for their subjects—and it’s obvious they love their jobs. They take the extra time to discover the right approach for each child and inspire students to reach way beyond the mainstream. “Our teachers really care and want kids to have a good learning experience,” commented a seventh-grader. The Middle School has 30 teaching faculty members.
Head-Royce enrolls approximately 900 students with 274 in Middle School. Sixth grade is one of the most significant entry points, and parents of students who arrived then noted the ease of transition and how welcome their children felt. “There is some sort of sixth grade magic,” said one parent. “My kids might be grumpy about getting out of bed, but they are never grumpy about going to school!”
Students come from Oakland, Berkeley, and over 30 other Bay Area communities. Students of color comprise more than 60% of the population. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the School has granted approximately $6 million in financial aid to 27% of its students. Admission is open to all students regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, physical ability, learning style, and national or ethnic origin. The school continues to seek diversity in students, faculty, administration, and staff. Thirty-nine percent of employees are people of color.
The School’s diverse community reflects the city they call home. As such, Head-Royce is committed to respecting, nurturing, and promoting diversity and its importance in the development of students and the well-being of the community. Its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, created this past summer, prioritizes action and accountability in addressing inequity issues, dismantling oppression, and creating a welcoming, open, and safe community.
The Middle School years constitute a distinctive period of rapid growth and development. Accordingly, the Middle School is designed to meet the needs of this transitional age group. The student body in the Middle School is the perfect size to study complex topics in a nurturing environment. Faculty members are attuned to the development transitions that students face during this time and provide an environment that is physically, emotionally, and academically safe.
Middle School builds upon the foundations introduced in the Lower School and offers a smooth transition into the adolescent years. As they progress through the academic program, students master the analytical, critical thinking, and writing skills they’ll need to confidently tackle high-school academics. Middle Schoolers enjoy expanded opportunities for choice, real-world problem-solving, creativity, experiential learning, and intellectual engagement.
Core classes include English, history, mathematics, science, and a world language (Chinese, French, Latin, Spanish). All students take physical education and life skills; study skills are incorporated into the school day. Middle School students benefit from a balanced schedule that also offers a full program in advising, activities, and weekly community assemblies built into the school day, as well as opportunities to participate in afterschool activities such as interscholastic sports, debate, and robotics. Students are supplied with a school-owned Chromebook to use as an educational tool.
Head-Royce provides all students with a well-balanced curriculum including a strong arts program focusing on performing and visual arts. From arts integration in the classroom to formal instruction, Head-Royce delivers a diversified and professional art program to every student. Throughout Middle School, the students have the opportunity to take classes in filmmaking, dance, or studio art. Music is a strong component of the Middle School arts program, and students can choose to join the Middle School band or Middle School chorus. Students can also take drama classes as part of elective course offerings.
The goal of athletics in Middle School is to provide student-athletes with opportunities for competition in which the lifelong values of sportsmanship, individual effort, teamwork, integrity, commitment, and self-discipline are emphasized throughout the sports season. Athletic teams are split up by grade level or are a combination of grade levels. Varsity, junior varsity, and sixth grade level teams are offered, and vary according to sport. Middle School teams compete in baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
Head-Royce fosters an atmosphere of self-governance and encourages its students to develop leadership skills both inside and outside the classroom. In Middle School, students build leadership skills through student government and clubs. Other activities like community service, study hall, film, debate, strength conditioning, jewelry making, ceramics, the Maker Space, 3D printing, ultimate frisbee, dance, and robotics fill the Middle School experience. Students also enjoy outdoor education adventures that include camping, hiking, river rafting, and a ropes course.
Established in 2013, Head-Royce’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) provides K-12 students with meaningful opportunities to build authentic partnerships in our hometown of Oakland and far beyond. Through classwork, School-sponsored trips, and volunteer opportunities, the student experience is steeped in real-world issues, immersive learning, and a deep understanding that our most important work at the end of the day is to create a better world for all.
The Head-Royce campus sits on 16 acres and consists of three distinct areas for each division. The Middle School building is situated off Whittle Avenue. The main gathering area for Middle Schoolers is a large patio which is just below the administrative offices and overlooks the swimming pool. The main floor of the building houses seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms, the Community Room, and the Mary E. Wilson Auditorium (commonly referred to as “the MEW”). The MEW hosts weekly afternoon meetings, assemblies, performances, and special events. Sixth grade classrooms are located on the lower level along with both vocal and instrumental music rooms. This level shares a courtyard with the Lower School. Fine arts studios are located on the other side of the MEW and include a computer lab for digital imaging and video production, a ceramics studio, the instrumental music room, and a drama room. On the upper level of these rooms are the 3D and 2D art studios and an art gallery. Next to the fine arts classrooms and parallel to Lincoln Avenue is the World Languages Building, a two-level building dedicated to Middle and Upper School language classes. This building was completed in 2008.
Ten years ago, the School purchased eight acres of land directly across the street from its current campus. After thoughtful planning, the South Campus Master Plan was created. The Master Plan will create a cutting-edge instructional environment that includes innovative new learning spaces; a stateof-the-art performing arts and community center; improvements to traffic flow and safety via a new internal loop road and pedestrian link; and expansive new green spaces dedicated to outdoor learning. Construction is expected to begin early in 2021.
Located on the east side of San Francisco Bay, Oakland is a fascinating place to live and learn, with rich multicultural influences, a strong and diverse economy, and a vibrant sports, arts, and music culture. The city has also led the way nationally with its sustainability environmental practices, community engagement/organization, and racial and ethnic diversity. Oakland has long been a hub for large corporations, and more recently the city has attracted high-tech and green energy startups, creating a tech boom that has fueled the economy and attracted young, well-educated professionals to settle in the area. Nearby is the University of California, Berkeley.
The city’s ideal climate makes for ample opportunity to explore the East Bay Regional Parks, which include three preserves and four parks, one of which is Redwood Regional Park. Right in Oakland’s center, just east of downtown, is perhaps the city’s most popular outdoor attraction, Lake Merritt, a large tidal lagoon featuring several bird refuges, a nature center, a children’s theme park, and a boathouse. Oakland’s culture has long been a richly multicultural place, from its vibrant Chinatown district to its place in music history as the West Coast hub for jazz and blues. With the greatest number of artists per capita in the U.S, Oakland’s art scene is ever growing. Jack London Square, the Fox Theater, and the Paramount Theatre all serve as venues for theater tours, music groups, art events, and more. Other places of interest include the Oakland Zoo, Oakland Museum of California, and the Oakland Aviation Museum.
With its burgeoning economy, blissful weather, wealth of attractions and pastimes, and a lower cost of living than neighboring cities in the Bay Area, Oakland has much to offer.
The next Middle School Head joins a healthy, strong, and student-focused division that is appreciated and celebrated for developmentally-appropriate programs and culture for Middle School students, giving students a positive experience that both stands on its own and provides a thoughtful transition out of Lower School and supportive transition to Upper School. There are strong institutional and divisional commitment and resources for continued professional growth and learning. Of note, the entire academic leadership team served as Head-Royce teachers and were able to grow from within. An external appointee will need to be confident in seeking understanding and in offering new perspectives. We believe this is an exciting opportunity for a dynamic, creative, and community-oriented educator who unabashedly identifies as a middle school educator. The key opportunities and challenges for the next Middle School Head include:
Joining a collaborative, high-caliber senior leadership team: The new Middle School Head will join a strong senior administrative team, led by the Head of School, of nine administrators who share a strong work ethic, respect for a plurality of voices and experiences, a culture of honest discourse, care and respect for one another, and a desire to keep Head-Royce students at the center of all decision making. Through regular meetings, regular contact and a willingness to see both the “forest and the trees,” this team works to meet the needs of a complex K-12 organization, even in the face of the unique challenges of this past year. Members of the leadership team support each other as thought partners, mentors, sounding boards, and collaborators. The Middle School Head will also have to be comfortable asking questions, seeking support, and responding with equanimity to unpredictable day-to-day events while working with the leadership team on long-term strategic goals.
Leading the Middle School team and articulating a shared vision for the division: Appreciating and finding the humor in Middle School students exactly as they are, the next Middle School Head will continue the work of leading the faculty in creating an environment that implements best practices for Middle School students and encourages continual growth for the Middle School faculty with initiatives such as project-based learning, equity-based assessment, and community partnerships. The Middle School Head will clarify priorities to help the division balance the demanding work of meeting the daily needs of students with longer-term strategic goals.
Shepherding the work of equity and inclusion with courage and skill: The Middle School Head will meet constituents where they are on their DEI journey, manage nuanced conversations, and join with the leadership team to implement all aspects of the Head-Royce DEI Action Plan. The division head will embrace equity and inclusion work with a sense of urgency and grace, setting high expectations while allowing space for learning, trepidation, missteps, and recovery, inviting people to engage in this work from a place of respect, humility, and improvement, not perfection. Related, the division head will strive to develop support and structures to recruit and retain talented BIPOC faculty and staff, retain BIPOC students, and help them, as one faculty member said, “see that they have a home here in the Middle School and to see their futures in the Upper School.”
Caring for the faculty: With COVID-19, racial reckoning, and the general unsettled nature of the current moment, teachers need support. The next Middle School Head will steward a generational change in faculty that is already underway, and which requires the political astuteness to inspire and encourage teachers who are at very different points in their careers and may have disparate philosophies on pedagogy, rigor, and assessment. Acknowledging faculty service to Head-Royce students, witnessing and celebrating daily work, coaching teachers in an non-evaluative setting, and listening authentically to all teachers, veteran or novice, the next Middle School Head will nurture an environment that celebrates the hard work and dedication of faculty and staff while setting the expectation that the adults in the Middle School deploy a portion of their passion for subject and students on behalf of larger institutional goals.
Working with and educating parents with empathy and clarity: “The Middle School Parents can be intense,” commented a member of the Middle School Deans team. As the curriculum has evolved to better attend to the social emotional learning of Middle School students, to include work around DEI, and towards competency based learning, some parents have questioned the level of academic rigor and readiness for the Upper School while others have wondered if the program is supportive enough. The next Middle School Head will need to be a compelling, calming, and clear communicator and partner with the School’s deeply invested parents. Engaging with multiple constituents: The Middle School Head will work with many constituents, including parents, trustees, and community members. Connecting authentically with different groups, listening to concerns and suggestions, and understanding the experiences and responsibilities that frame an individual’s relationship with the School are foundational to building trust and advancing the work of the division and the School as a whole. The Middle School Head will participate in Board meetings, support Board committees, lead parent groups, and form positive relationships with Head-Royce’s neighbors and partners in Oakland.
We hope to appoint the new Middle School Head before the winter break. Interested and qualified candidates should express interest and submit application materials as their earliest convenience. Please submit electronically in one email and as separate documents (preferably PDFs) the following documents:
A cover letter expressing their interest in this particular position;
A current résumé;
• A one-page statement of educational philosophy and practice;
A list of five professional references with name, phone number, and email address of each (references will not be contacted without the candidate’s permission)
Jennifer Christensen Search Consultant: firstname.lastname@example.org