Chief Schools Officer

Posted on: April 26, 2021 |

About LEARN Charter School Network
LEARN Charter School Network (LEARN) opened its doors as a charter school in 2001 with the mission to provide children with the academic foundation and ambition to earn a college degree. LEARN’s commitment to providing underserved communities with a high-quality, college prep elementary education is unwavering. LEARN currently serves 4,000 students, a majority low-income, minority student population (88% and 98%, respectively), across 10 campuses in Chicago and Lake County, IL. LEARN will replicate its model in its expansion to Ward 8 in Washington D.C in Fall 2021, and will educate students in grades PK3-8th grade from both the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) and the adjacent Ward 8 community. LEARN alumni graduate college at 2x the rate of their peers exceeding city, state and national averages. Our college graduation rate is 10 points above the national average for all students regardless of socio-economic status or ethnicity. We are proud to be closing the achievement gap.

Each LEARN Campus is led by an empowered principal, committed to the five Core Values:
• Culture of respect,
• High expectations,
• Safe and nurturing environment,
• Commitment to the whole child, and
• Family involvement.

About the Chief Schools Officer
LEARN is seeking the next Chief Schools Officer (CSO) who will oversee the overall academics strategy for the organization and serve as a leader, thought partner and coach to the 11 principals of its campuses. Reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer, this individual must be an experienced and accomplished instructional leader who is compelled by the opportunity to chart the path for how LEARN will refine, enhance, and implement their student-centered, rigorous academic program throughout the growing network. The Chief Schools Officer will serve as a core member of the 5-member leadership team, and as such will collaborate closely with the Chief Executive Officer on a wide variety of organizational decisions including the development of short and long-term goals to ensure the successful implementation of LEARN’s overall organizational mission. The Chief Schools Officer (CSO) provides leadership, vision, and strategic direction for the curriculum, instruction, assessment, and continuous improvement initiatives and will work to ensure students’ access to a high-quality, equitable, data-driven learning environment.

Specific Duties and Key Responsibilities

Setting and Implementing the Academic Vision and Strategy
● Ensure that LEARN continues to have strong partnerships beyond the organization, including the multiple charter authorizers, philanthropic partners, local government officials, and key leaders in the Chicago and Washington, D.C. education communities.
● Ensure our students’ academic success by keeping students at the center of all decision making and ensure that every aspect of our academic program works well for our students.
● Set a clear vision and goals for the Teaching & Learning and Student Support Services departments to increase academic achievement and provide support for all students.
● Build on LEARN’s successes to drive innovation and apply best practices which inform instruction, intervention programs and improve the delivery of support services.
● Lead and support our strong leadership team and principals to advance the vision for academic programming and operational excellence across all current and future schools.
● Continually assess the effectiveness of the Teaching & Learning and Student Support Services departments and effectively prioritize, plan, and implement improvements, as needed.
● Ensure that curricula are aligned to the organization’s mission, values, and academic goals that meets the need of all students.
● Secure/create instructional materials and resources that allow for the delivery of high quality instruction and appropriate interventions.
● Use and analyze school and network level data to drive decisions and guide problem-solving to achieve the best student outcomes.

Systems and Support
● Engage stakeholders in the development/refinement of the network’s theory of action regarding school/programmatic autonomy, accountability, and decision making.
● Establish performance management processes for evaluating the effectiveness of programs, quality controls, operational efficiency, and accuracy in the network support and school level implementation.
● Create proactive systems that garner feedback from stakeholders (network, schools, teachers) to inform academic strategy and practice.
● Assess the efficacy and effectiveness of the academic programs through coaching conversations, regular observations and school walk-throughs and support principals in identifying appropriate resources to ensure alignment in implementation.
● Secure effective and efficient decision-making processes that elevate the expertise and perspectives of stakeholders and build buy-in throughout and beyond the organization.

Talent Management and Professional Development
● Model the organization’s core values to approach the challenges we face, ensuring the organization grows and retains its people.
● Shepherd effective talent management strategies, ensuring that all LEARN schools are staffed with highly effective teachers and administrators and operationalizing a path to advancement that is open to all team members.
● Actively coach and develop direct reports to be effective in their roles and in their management of their teams and functional areas.
● Partner with the Human Resources team, refine onboarding and professional development for principals, instructional coaches, and teachers.
● Facilitate collaboration among principals and school sites to ensure high quality implementation of the schools’ educational design and to promote LEARN’s culture.
● Coach and support principals in creating coherence in culture and routines within each school and in developing rigorous and timely professional development for teachers.
● Cultivate a commitment among all staff that all students will achieve high standards.

Skills and Competencies
The ideal candidate will demonstrate the following:
Vision and Courage to Ensure All Students Achieve
● Demonstrate belief and hold self and others accountable for reaching high academic achievement of all students.
● Navigate complex environments and act with integrity, honesty, and courage in the best interest of students.
● Facilitate and secure buy-in for a clear and compelling vision of instructional excellence.
● Solicit, elevate, understand, and value–either through personal experience or empathy–the perspective of a wide variety of stakeholders.
● Address matters of equity, race, and bias in decision-making with clarity, confidence, openness, and empathy.
Content Knowledge and Instructional Best Practice
● Exhibit deep understanding of the complex role of the school leader, the complexities of teaching and the tools/supports necessary to improve teachers’ practice.
● Demonstrate pedagogical content knowledge in the core content areas.
● Understand and implement promising, innovative, and effective instructional practices, and models.
● Demonstrate understanding of school improvement initiatives.
● Identify effective teaching practices and develop improvement strategies to build capacity of teachers and principals.
Influence and Leadership
● Navigate complex structures, relationships, and dynamics to challenge ideas and enable thoughtful decisions and positive outcomes for students.
● Listen compassionately with an open mind – seeking to fully understand what makes LEARN unique before establishing the direction forward.
● Communicate effectively, tailoring messages for the audience, context, and mode of communication.
● Build positive relationships and coalitions primarily with staff members and principals and inclusive of all staff, students, parents and families, communities, and advocacy groups.
● Maintain visibility and work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders at all levels.
Strategic Planning and Effective Execution
● Offer innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
● Set priorities to maintain a high-quality instructional program within the organization’s financial means.
● Analyze complex, nuanced data from multiple angles and exercise judgment in making critical decisions and communicate the implications to diverse audiences.
● Exhibit a strong focus on goals, accountability, and results; set clear metrics for success.
● Monitor progress and demonstrate persistence to overcome obstacles to achieve goals.
Team Leadership, Coaching and Management
● Effectively balance the tension between individual principals’ needs and vision with the need for coherence across all schools.
● Attract, retain and motivate talent to achieve ambitious goals.
● Assess team and individuals’ skills, identify development needs, and provide feedback and supports to improve practice, build capacity, and maximize talent.
● Promote professional learning and utilizes effective adult learning techniques.
● Lead teams to collaborate with each other, other departments, teams, and stakeholders including parents and families.

Education and Experience
● A minimum of 10 years of academic, principal, and systems level leadership experience.
● Deep knowledge of curriculum, instruction, assessment, school operations, and multi-lingual and differently abled learner education.
● A clear track record of improving academic outcomes for students with a keen focus on equity and access for all learners.
● Alignment with LEARN’s instructional philosophy and experience practicing LEARN’s key instructional tenets, including small learning groups, differentiated instruction, and a whole-child focus.
● Deep understanding of the principles of diversity, equity, & inclusion that are necessary for leading an organization that serves communities of color.
● Experience building high quality, highly functional teams with clear expectations for serving schools and achieving student success.
● Ability to navigate uncertainty and ambiguity, and to prioritize work efforts to execute overall strategy.
● Bachelor’s degree required. Master’s degree in educational administration, or a related field from an accredited college or institution preferred.
● Knowledge of best practices, and current on national trends and research for the instruction of diverse and multilingual learners.

The Application Process
Qualified candidates for the role of Chief Schools Officer should submit a resume and cover letter that clearly demonstrates the aforementioned qualifications to our website.

Salary is competitive, and commensurate with prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included. We look forward to discussing details with you as the interview process progresses.