The Center for Early Education, a culturally and socio-economically diverse co-ed independent school for children, toddlers through grade six, seeks an accomplished leader to serve as its Director of Upper Elementary to support its vibrant community of students, families and teachers beginning July 1, 2020.
Founded in 1939 as The School for Nursery Years, The Center for Early Education became the national leader of early childhood education that it is today. The Center attracts education professionals who believe in and have an innate respect for the mission of the school “to graduate students who are joyful, resilient, life-long learners,” and “embraces a philosophy of education that combines a nurturing, inclusive learning environment with an increasingly challenging academic program that addresses the developmental needs of each child.”
Under the leadership of Mark Brooks (only the third Head of School for The Center), and his unwavering commitment to the school’s mission and history of diversity and inclusion, The Center is poised to continue to be a leader in this field. Mark believes that a student-centered, relevant education that engages each child in inquiry, problem solving, and project-based learning best prepares children for a constantly evolving world. Along with a dedicated leadership team, passionate and talented staff, and a vibrant and engaged community, the Director of Upper Elementary will find caring partners in the quest to provide a leading-edge education that honors the inner world of children.
While the history of the school continues to inform and guide its current life, the Center understands that a changing world demands innovation and dynamism from the school as well. The Center has just completed a major renovation, with more flexible spaces to allow for project based learning and greater collaboration and creativity, state-of-the-art technology, and expanded outdoor spaces. The campus enhancement project is truly a realization of the community’s aspirations in a physical form.
The Center for Early Education core values: responsibility, caring, inclusion and honesty.
The Center for Early Education began as a play group for children in a single-family home in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles in 1939, then named The School for Nursery Years. The original founders of this group, most of whom were professional psychoanalysts, were passionate about respecting the inner world of the child. They sought to develop an early childhood education based on each child's natural developmental pace as well as on the recognized developmental stages through which each individual passes to maturity. At a time when preschool education was in its infancy, CEE's founders pioneered a school dedicated to the needs of young children. The School opened a teacher training program for nursery schoolteachers and administrators, eventually called The College for Developmental Studies. The country’s first Head Start also found its home at The School.
Today, The Center for Early Education is made up of a group of extremely dedicated faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, parents, grandparents, volunteers, and friends who work together to make CEE the vibrant, caring and inclusive place for learning that it has been for over 75 years. CEE has over 60 educators providing instruction to their 540 students.
The Center strongly believes in helping to nurture professional growth in its faculty and staff. Each year, CEE funds school-wide and individually selected professional development programs for faculty and staff so that they can continue to learn and grow as educators. In addition, world-class experts regularly visit campus to give workshops and lectures to members of the campus community as well as the independent school community in the greater Los Angeles area.
Educating the Whole Child
Cultivating the home/school partnership is a key component of a Center education. From its earliest days, CEE works hand in hand with families with the acknowledgment that support from home can augment learning and growth at school and vice versa. Parents are at the heart of our loving community.
Character education, with a focus on living our core values of honesty, inclusion, responsibility, and caring, drives much of the academic and extracurricular program at The Center. From using the RULER social-emotional approach to helping children recognize, identify, and regulate emotions in themselves and others, to implementing Responsive Classroom techniques, teachers at all levels strive to support each child's emotional growth and individual feelings throughout their years here. Service-learning is also a key component of a Center education which all students participate in.
Two lead teachers head each classroom. Each grade has two classes of 30 students, except for sixth grade where there are 3 classrooms of 20 students. Both teachers take responsibility for managing, planning and sharing the instruction of all of their students. This team-teaching model allows the children to have the opportunity to bond with two caring and highly skilled professionals throughout the academic year. The sixth-grade program is departmentalized among the four core subjects, marking the transition from a single elementary classroom to a middle school departmentalized program.
The Elementary Program
Starting in kindergarten, the academic world opens up to reveal its many wonders: literature and journal-writing, patterns in the daily calendar, the mysteries of the rainforest and phases of the moon, as well as expressing oneself through drawing, song, and physical movement. The core curriculum spirals throughout the Elementary Program, introducing, reinforcing, and reintroducing concepts with developmentally-appropriate increasing levels of rigor in Mathematics, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science. The use of technology is guided by curricular goals so that children’s studies are deepened and extended in a wide variety of ways. Complementing this core curriculum are the special subjects of Art, Music, Physical Education, and Library.
Throughout the elementary years at The Center, we strive to create an environment that balances a wide variety of experiences and approaches to learning. Our focus is on addressing different learning styles and developing collaborative, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Kindergarten through Third Grade
Beginning in kindergarten, students take part in many of the special traditions of our elementary school, from morning assemblies and the annual Olympics, to acting as community service representatives and members of multi-age "families." Children enjoy a 10:1 student-teacher ratio in kindergarten, and a 15:1 ratio in grades 1-3; our two master teachers in every classroom conduct a combination of whole-class, small-group, and individual instruction to meet the needs of our diverse learners. The social-emotional makeup of each student is considered; ever-mindful of the developmental spectrum along which our students grow, our teachers observe, assess, and communicate the needs of the whole child to parents and to one another.
Teachers give students choice in what they read alongside carefully structured teaching of decoding and comprehension strategies. Children learn to creatively express themselves in writing while practicing conventions of grammar and spelling. Math classes are characterized by real-world applicability and focus on problem-solving. In Social Studies, our students broaden and deepen their definition of community, from their families and our school to our city and the global village. Students encounter CEE’s four core values - caring, responsibility, honesty and inclusion - and have opportunities to live out the core values in service-learning projects.
Students attend specialists in Art, Science, Music, Technology, Library, and PE throughout the week.
Fourth through Sixth Grade
Throughout the elementary years, students are challenged to think analytically and creatively as the curriculum deepens and connections are made across the disciplines.
Children learn how to independently manage their time for both short-term and long-term assignments as they develop study skills and organizational skills. Achievement and effort grades are given in the four core subjects of Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Fifth and sixth grade students are part of student-led parent conferences each year so they can join in on the discussion to support their own learning.
Students explore how to clearly and fully express themselves in written, oral, and artistic forms. In Science and Math, they learn to observe, collect, apply, and evaluate data to solve problems. Students collaborate with others through Social Studies projects and service-learning experiences, developing a historical perspective and how the decisions they make can affect others. A 1:1 laptop program enables students to reach beyond the classroom and evaluate for themselves the tremendous amount of information accessible to them. CEE students learn to navigate learning networks in safe, effective, and ethical ways.
Specialist classes enrich and extend our students’ daily experience, including regular visits to the library, Art and Music, and Physical Education. At the conclusion of sixth grade, CEE students are well-prepared and ready to continue their self-exploration as learners, thriving in their new secondary school environments.
From “learning to read” to “reading to learn", our students build upon a literacy foundation throughout their elementary school years. In grades K-3, we use a balanced literacy approach, providing students multiple opportunities for authentic reading on a daily basis, coupled with explicit instruction in reading strategies. In grades 4-6, novels make up the backbone of the reading curriculum. Along the way, children make connections, draw comparisons, and gain meaning from what they read.
Writing spans all areas of the curriculum. Children learn how to organize their thoughts in creative and expository writing, from poetry and persuasive essays to science lab journal entries and word problem explanations.
CEE students develop both a conceptual understanding of mathematics and the ability to compute accurately. Teachers emphasize problem-solving skills and encourage our students to apply mathematics in their daily lives. Elementary grades employ the Singapore math-based program, Math in Focus, in grades K-6.
The Center Social Studies curriculum integrates history, geography, current events, anthropology, and economics in a project-oriented curriculum. Students work individually and with partners or small cooperative groups of classmates as they move through Social Studies units.
Science at The Center focuses on the scientific processes in ways that are developmentally-appropriate for students from kindergarten through grade six. Students learn to make careful observations, develop predictions, collect data, and then draw conclusions based on their data.
CEE’s Music program is designed to develop children's musical skills and encourage their natural inclination to express themselves through sound. The program fosters self-expression, improvisational skills, and positive values. Students are all able to participate in extracurricular choirs and instrument lessons in addition to regular music classes.
The Physical Education program aims to encourage each child’s physical, emotional and cognitive development. The curriculum focuses on building individual skills as well as cooperation and competition through team sports which stress safety, support for the emerging athlete, and a balance between competition and good sportsmanship.
Visual Arts are a hallmark of The Center experience; there is no better time to explore the world of art than during childhood. With two art teachers and two well-equipped studios, The Center eagerly encourages students to discover the artist within and gain confidence in their individual visual expression.
CEE students acquire an expansive art vocabulary of technique, media, skills, and styles during their years at The Center. Students encounter art history through art prints, media presentations, stories, exhibitions, field trips, music and lessons. The Art program exposes children to a great variety of materials and processes, while also allowing plenty of time to experiment and explore various mediums.
The Social Studies and Language Arts curriculum inspires dramatic presentations that deepen understanding of the subject at hand, with a strong emphasis on public speaking. Students are responsible for generating ideas, writing content, and executing the final presentation.
All children, regardless of their abilities or learning styles, deserve an appropriately challenging education that develops their skills, protects and nurtures their self-esteem, and inspires them to be lifelong learners. In fact, this approach is central to our mission. CEE's learning specialists take a team approach to helping students achieve success by working with classroom teachers, parents, any outside professionals working with the child, and the school to create a learning plan tailored to the student’s developmental readiness and needs.
Beginning in EC2 (Early Childhood 2), children take trips that extend their classroom studies, such as to the Huntington Gardens, a local fire station, or to participate in service learning at a local organization. Each art class also visits a local exhibit or museum every year.
Overnight trips begin in fourth grade. Fourth and fifth graders embark on three-day environmental experiences as an extension of our science curriculum. Sixth graders take a week-long trip to Washington, D.C. which features rich cultural and learning experiences.
Starting in early childhood, classes visit the library to discover the exciting world of reading. In the early years, students explore books and participate in a variety of art, craft, music, theatrical and technology-based activities. The Library and Information Science curriculum incorporates both traditional library experiences and those that help children develop skill in information management, including organization of information systems, information retrieval, and the instruction on the use of electronic and print reference sources.
Opportunities for The Director of Upper Elementary
The Center seeks an experienced Upper Elementary administrator; someone with a solid background in child development and teaching, and who deeply understands and respects students’ journey from elementary to secondary school. The Director must embrace the school’s core values of caring, inclusion, responsibility and honesty. The parent/guardian community seeks a partner in the Director whom they can trust and learn from. The Center’s teaching staff is eager to work with a Director who supports their growth and works with them to deliver a child-centered, innovative instruction. In the leadership team, transparency, clear and direct communication, collaboration, creativity and integrity help to maintain a high functioning and high performing relationship. The successful candidate will possess a sense of humor, level-headed problem solving/decision making and a joyful approach to the business of running an elementary school.
Strategic Priorities for the Director of Upper Elementary Programs
Transition Experience for Children: As children move through the stages at The Center, particular attention to these transition points are vital. As the oldest children of the school look towards secondary school, the Director of Upper Elementary will be central in making these transitions as seamless as possible. This includes working with faculty to refine the elementary curriculum to reflect the knowledge, skills and executive functioning students will need to be successful at their next academic institution and beyond. Collaboration with the Director of Placement and families will also be essential in this process.
Professional Development of a Diverse Faculty and Staff: The Center has always prioritized professional development and views it as critical to the growth of the school.
Parent Education: The Elementary Curriculum goes beyond what is taught to the children in the classroom; it extends, by necessity, to parents, who partner with The Center’s educators to support the children’s learning at school and at home. The Center seeks to continue to build Parent Education as a critical component of its program.
Essential Functions of the Director of Upper Elementary
Reporting to the Head of School, and working closely with the Directors of Early Childhood and Lower Elementary, and the Assistant Head for Operations, the Director of Upper Elementary has direct responsibility for supervising the programs involving grades 4 through 6:
Oversee continuity of Upper Elementary curriculum and assessment strategies that inform instruction.
Conduct team and curriculum meetings, grade level faculty meetings, developmental and parent meetings for grades 4-6.
Participate in the professional development of faculty members, including writing performance objectives, selecting conferences, workshops, courses, and planning in-service experiences.
Plan curricular adjunct programs, i.e., human development, substance abuse awareness, and overnight trips for upper elementary students.
Observe and evaluate children and participate in conferences with parents and children about their progress.
Discuss salient issues with a child, a small group of children, or with an entire class upon the request of a teacher.
Attend weekly Administration Team meetings and regular meetings of the Board of Trustees and its committees as assigned; present information as requested and appropriate.
Participate in the interviewing, hiring, supervision, evaluation and termination of upper/lower elementary faculty members for grades 4-6 as well as upper elementary specialist teachers.
Participate in writing faculty schedules and making faculty assignments.
Effectively manage teaching team dynamics, facilitating communication and problem solving.
Study, develop and adhere to the budgetary needs of the Upper Elementary Division.
Interview and screen prospective families and children as a member of the Admissions Committee and participate in the selection process.
Qualifications, Skills and Knowledge
The Center is rooted in diversity, inclusion and equity and is seeking to have those values reflected by its new Director of Upper Elementary. Successful candidates will have extensive knowledge of administration, elementary education, curriculum development, departmental budgeting and management, and strong written and verbal skills. This administrator must have the ability to be clear, honest and direct in his/her communications with faculty, staff and parents and in presentations.
Fast Facts about The Center
Founded in 1939 as a School for Nursery Years, it went through several iterations which included a teachers’ college. Today it is a toddler's program through 6th grade program.
Diversity: 51% of student body
Faculty Diversity: 40%
Financial Aid (FA)/Tuition Remission (TR)
Average Tuition FA/TR$15,739
FA/TR as % of Tuition Revenue 16%
Students Receiving FA/TR21%
FA Applications/FA Awards 119/106
FA Applicant Income Range$20,000 - $405,000
Award Recipients75% < $225,000
West Hollywood or “WeHo,” is home to The Center for Early Education. Incorporated in 1984 as a city of Los Angeles County, it is also home to the Sunset Strip. Bordered by Beverly Hills to the west, the Hollywood Hills on the north, Hollywood to the east and on other sides by neighborhoods of Los Angeles, WeHo is an energetic, creative city that benefits from its walkable street grid. West Hollywood and the Los Angeles Area is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and sprawling metropolis.
Procedure to Apply
Interested candidates should submit the following materials confidentially in one PDF attachment:
Cover letter expressing interest in The Center position
Statement of educational philosophy and practice
Three letters of recommendation and a list of references
Email to Orpheus Crutchfield email@example.com and Mary Rose Fernandez firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “The Center for Early Education - Director of Upper Elementary.”
Qualifications and key characteristics:
A Master’s degree (preferred)
A minimum of two to three years of relevant administrative experience
Demonstrated ongoing professional interest and focus on upper elementary and/or middle school grades
Current role at another institution with core values and mission similar to CEE preferred
Elementary and/or Middle school teaching experience at a recognized school
Experience managing faculty and faculty teams.
Demonstrable commitment to diversity in education.
Open minded, collaborative approach, and flexibility with a good sense of humor.
Employer will assist with relocation costs.
About The Center for Early Education
Founded in 1939, The Center for Early Education educates students from Toddler through Grade Six. Our urban West Hollywood campus houses 538 children in instructional building with rooftop playgrounds, unique 'green' planting and underground parking. The Center combines a challenging academic curriculum with a nurturing environment that harkens back to the founders' focus on the inner life of the child. Both the student body and faculty/staff are very diverse with 50% students of color. The Center offers an ample Financial Aid program with inclusion awards but also strives for socioeconomic diversity among its families. Generous donors and a mature advancement program keep tuition below the median of comparable schools in the Los Angeles area. The Center offers competitive salaries and excellent benefits to employees. A long-standing commitment to professional development allows all employees to further their professional and personal growth.