The Buckley School is a dynamic, nurturing learning community committed to equity and inclusion. Our innovative teachers and challenging programs inspire creativity, courage, and collaboration. By promoting a balanced development of mind, body, and character, we encourage each student to find joy and meaning in life and make an impact in the world
The Buckley School seeks a devoted middle educator and leader to become its next Head of Middle School, a vibrant division of 224 students in grades 6-8 and 35+ faculty members.
The oldest independent co-ed K–12 school in Los Angeles and one of the very few with all grades on one campus, Buckley is a nationally recognized college preparatory school with a bold mission, clear values, and a desire to honor its past as it evolves to shape the future. The position is slated to begin on July 1, 2021.
As our world continues to grapple with uncertainty under a pandemic and our country’s reckoning with racial injustice, our schools have done the same while continuing with the business of caring for and educating students in a virtual format. Buckley is
no exception to this reality and its leadership and faculty have been nimbly adjusting and innovating to distance learning while also humbly listening and re-doubling their effort to attend to diversity, equity and inclusion issues and becoming an anti-racist community. The new Head of Middle School must be attuned to this 2020 reality and, in particular, have a strong understanding of what it takes to lead faculty and support students already making strides during these times, while also having a big-picture vision and framework to bring a bright on-campus future to fruition.
The new Head of Middle School will be an important partner in a dynamic senior leadership team led by Alona Scott, Head of School. In her second year, and with Ms. Scott’s proven leadership, commitment to equity and diversity, and experience as a teacher-leader, Buckley will continue as one of the premier K–12 institutions in the country. The new Head of Middle School will partner with the other division heads to continue aligning the School’s K–12 programs, scope and sequence, and chart a new strategic vision that marries Dr. Isabelle Buckley’s original 4-Fold Plan, putting equal emphasis on Academics, Athletics, the Arts and Moral Development, with the best and most innovative thinking and practices around pedagogy.
Strategic priorities and opportunities for the Head of Middle School include:
Collaboratively crafting a new vision and identity for the division: The Middle School has moved towards a more experiential and project-based education in recent years, requiring a leader with experience supporting a highly collaborative faculty. A solid grasp of these and other innovative pedagogical
practices and the ability to support the faculty in implementing these developments will be important. As the division grows and changes, its identity is also evolving, inviting a sustained conversation for continued development.
Students-first approach and promoting student well-being: Attend to the challenges, joys, and pressures that tweens and early teens face and utilize current research about the importance of social-emotional skill development to build even greater capacity among faculty to provide systematic support across programs and individual interactions. Provide similar education to families to help them navigate and support their middle schoolers.
Admissions: Engage in the admissions process to attract the best students for the division. Identify strategies, including potentially increasing program offerings to attract a broader range of/more diverse
Evolving Curricula and Instruction: Utilize recent research in neuroscience and Social- Emotional Learning (SEL) to evaluate programs and practices, with an eye for balancing the demands of the 4-Fold plan with overall student well-being. Strengthen alignment amongst divisions, in particular between 8th and 9th grades, to ensure a smooth transition for students and prepare them for success in their next step at Buckley.
Becoming an anti-racist community and advancing Buckley’s DEI commitment: In recent months, Buckley has been deeply engaged in conversations about racial injustice and examining its own structure, curriculum, policies and practices. The new Head of Middle School will help lead the development and execution of a five-year DEI plan. Leadership in this arena is key to advancing the School’s mission.
Supporting and Developing a Diverse Faculty: Strengthen the support systems and professional development program to continue offering both Buckley faculty and non- instructional staff opportunities to grow and remain leaders in the
Developing and growing the Middle School’s co-curricular programs: While there are specific co-curricular programs such as Design Lab/Makerspace, Diversity Club, Passion Projects, Lower/Middle School Mentors, video production, textiles, bookmaking, writing lab, and life skills, there is room for innovative and creative new offerings.
Building Strong Relationships Among the Faculty, Staff, and Parents: Foster trust, rapport, transparency, and collegiality in the service of the
The Buckley School, founded in 1933 by Isabelle Buckley, is the oldest K–12 independent co-educational day school in Los Angeles. Dr. Buckley developed the 4-Fold Plan of Education with equal emphasis on Academics, Arts, Athletics, and Moral Education. These four pillars remain the foundation of our school and are continually updated to reflect current research in teaching, brain science, diversity, and a globalized world.
“Some of you chose Buckley because of its mission’s commitment to equity and inclusion; some of you may have been attracted to Isabelle Buckley’s founding Four-Fold Plan, which includes “Moral Education.” The fact remains: our dedication to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is rock-solid and enduring. It is fundamental to who we are as a school and a community.
Institutional change is not an overnight matter. Nevertheless, we are launching full speed ahead and will be unrelenting in our commitment to expanding our DEI initiatives and integrating them even more deeply into our curriculum, our staff development and training, and our recruitment and admissions process. We have set ambitious targets for improvement. And we will hold ourselves accountable for results.”
from Letter to the Community
The Head of Middle School is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the division, including its academic and advisory programs, student policies, athletics, arts performances and activities, service learning and outdoor education and other co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and programs, as well as hiring and supporting a diverse staff. Reporting to the Head of School, the Head of Middle School serves as the educational and administrative leader of the Middle School and works collaboratively with the Heads of the Lower and Upper Schools to create K-12 alignment in program, practice and culture. Utilizing knowledge of the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of tweens and early adolescents, the Head of the Middle School fosters an educational program and culture of care for students, faculty, staff, and families that fulfill the school’s mission, embodies the school’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and exemplifies the Buckley Commitment (honesty, loyalty, respect, kindness, self-discipline and self-reliance), created by students in 1995 to guide the community in school-wide standards of behavior.
On behalf of the Middle School and in partnership with the Assistant Head of School, the Head of the Middle School oversees and supports the ongoing evolution of curriculum, instruction, and community activities, and actively participates in hiring, faculty evaluation, admissions, and communication with families.
The Head of Middle School is expected to model lifelong learning by staying abreast of research, advances and trends in educational programs and practices, and to use this knowledge to inform the ongoing evolution of curriculum, instruction, and community activities, ensuring K-12 alignment. In partnership with the Assistant Head of School and department chairs, the Head of Middle School will design professional development opportunities.
Other duties for the Head of Middle School include:
Various instructional duties, including teaching a class as may be assigned by the Head of School.
Establish yearly and summer course offerings approved through the curriculum committee (a.k.a. “The Guild”) and disseminate information to the
Maintain the Middle School budget in conjunction with the Head of Upper
Oversee the design of the Middle School schedule and maintain the Middle School
Oversee the Middle School academic advising process and annual revision of the Middle School course
Assist with coordinating the moving up ceremony for rising ninth-graders.
Serve on the Admission Committee and assist in the admission process for the testing, interviewing, and evaluation of Middle School applicants.
Keep the Head of School and Assistant Head of School informed of the Middle School’s general programs, activities, challenges, and opportunities.
Participate in the life of the school by attending assemblies, games, concerts, galas, and other school events.
Perform other duties as assigned by the Head of
Academic and Co-curricular Programs
Our Lower School program is guided by our mission and history. Buckley’s program blends tradition and structure with a developmental methodology that engages students in active learning and allows our teachers to address differences in student learning styles. We place a heavy emphasis on the development of compassionate children. Across all grades, students are immersed in a rich program of traditional academic classes as well as weekly specialized classes, including computer science,
dance, theatre, visual arts, music, and physical education. We believe that physical education and arts education are among the core components of academic success.
Buckley’s Middle School values and nurtures creative self-expression and problem-solving through both traditional pedagogy and student-centered experiential learning opportunities. Social-emotional growth is valued as much as academic development; skills as much as content. Student choice and agency guide much of the Middle School’s programs and curricula. Children are pushed to direct their own learning, hold themselves accountable, and understand how good it feels to try hard at something you love.
Based in adjoining classrooms, sixth grade students begin to experience the transition of moving to different but nearby classrooms for instruction in language arts, science, Chinese, social science, and a new pilot course, “The Empathy and Uplift Project.” They then leave this homeroom area for physical education, one of four tracts in math, and arts rotation classes that alternate between music (band, orchestra, or choir) and a choice of art, dance, theatre, computer science, or journalism. All Middle School students choose to participate in either a regular physical education class or a sports team with a no- cut policy. Everyone plays and is grouped according to ability. Students also participate in an outdoor education program at each grade level, which provides opportunities for real-world learning and helps build class unity.
In seventh grade, students are given the option to continue with Chinese or to take French, Latin, or Spanish. Seventh grade students are also given the choice to continue with a favorite elective at a higher level or pursue other selections that include video production, scriptwriting, or robotics. There are more choices for seasonal sports including cross-country, golf, and tennis. Every 7th grade student is required to take a Life Skills class, in which they learn about and discuss everything from digital etiquette and responsibility to sex ed and body image. Good decision-making skills are taught and emphasized. The seventh grade outdoor education trip occurs early in the school year and provides additional opportunities for new students to develop friendships with their classmates.
We respect the eighth grade students’ ability to mentor younger Middle School students while also recognizing their need to prepare for the rigors of Upper School. Eighth grade students serve as the elected president and vice president of Middle School student council and hold leadership roles on the athletic field, in the classroom, and during
extracurricular activities. Eighth grade students take Voices and Choices, an adaptation of the seventh grade Life Skills class where students engage in discussions about peer relationships and responsible decision making. Voices and Choices addresses the essential themes of empathy and respect, while also focusing on a variety of topics including digital citizenship, identity, stress management, and more.
Buckley’s Upper School curriculum does more than prepare students for success at the college level; it helps them develop into independent, creative thinkers who will positively influence the world around them. The Upper School maintains a rigorous college preparatory education grounded in collaboration, cultural competency, and character education. The school provides an intentionally small, supportive, and diverse learning environment. Through our Applied Science program students work on year-long independent research projects with real-world applications, often applying for and receiving patents for their work. Upper School Writing Fellows receive formal training in peer mentoring, tutoring, and helping their younger classmates find their voices through their own writing. Students in the Diversity Club guide the Upper School in regular conversation and help plan assemblies and our Social Justice Symposia. Every ninth-grader is required to take Intersections of Identity, a semester-long course in which students learn about identity markers, socioeconomic differences, and the on-going gentrification of the city in which they live. Buckley is a member of One Schoolhouse, a consortium of independent schools through which students may enroll in online courses.
A rigorous curriculum ensures that every student acquires the knowledge that our expert faculty considers crucial to a comprehensive liberal arts education and college preparation. In addition, students compete on high school athletic teams or participate in physical education classes each trimester until the final term of their senior year; they take a minimum of two visual or performing arts classes; and they participate in ethical education programs through advisory sessions, speaker series, and student-led sketches and discussions.
There is widespread, deep respect for faculty and what they do. They are regarded as passionate, dedicated professionals. Faculty see a major benefit of working at Buckley in that they have the resources to accomplish what they want – Buckley is a place where the “sky is the limit.” Buckley has cultivated a culture where teachers continually seek to better themselves. Faculty and staff are “all in,” and administrators can teach a class, or have an advisory – in other words, those who do not have a teaching role can still find ways to connect with students. Presence is a highly valued virtue in the Buckley community.
The students at Buckley represent the many different neighborhoods and communities of Los Angeles.
Buckley students are academically curious, joyful learners and appreciate the well-rounded education that the school offers. Middle Schoolers describe themselves as independent, resourceful, kind, technologically savvy, empathetic, and aware.
The Buckley community is inclusive and warm. There is a perceptible connectedness within this small community where relationships are cherished. Mutual respect is a hallmark of the Buckley community, one that encourages voice in a safe environment.
In 2016, the school added three new buildings to support academics, including specialized science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classrooms, as well as the performing arts, including dance and music rehearsal spaces, a black-box theatre, and a state-of-the-art performance and community gathering space. Improvements also include a renovated and fully modernized Middle and Upper School library and administrative offices, renovated classrooms, including the addition of a world languages lab, and renovated college counseling, admission, and Lower School administrative offices. Newly renovated studio art facilities, with a video production studio and screening room, complete darkroom, and electric ceramic kilns enhance the School’s arts programs.
Los Angeles is the most populous city in California and the second-most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of the West Coast. Nicknamed the “City of Angels” partly because of its name’s Spanish meaning, Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and sprawling metropolis.
PROCEDURE TO APPLY
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral to our mission. We celebrate and embrace differences as well as commonalities and encourage conversations around them. It is important that our faculty and staff share the same value and strive to make diversity, equity and inclusion a strategic focus inside and outside of the classroom.
Interested candidates must submit the following materials confidentially via bit.ly/buckleymshead (https://form.jotform.com/202847481166157) in one PDF attachment that includes in the following order:
Cover letter expressing interest in the Buckley Head of Middle School position
Statement of educational philosophy and practice
Three to five references, identifying your relationship to them and including their phone number and email (candidate will be notified before references are contacted)
A writing sample that reflects your voice in your school community (can be current or past correspondence)
Please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to Orpheus Crutchfield at (510) 685-0861.
November 16, 2020
January 11–22, 2021
Early to mid-February, 2021
Announcement to the community
Qualities of the next Head of Middle School
The next Head of Middle School must relish the joys and challenges of working with students ages 9-15, and possess a deep understanding of human development, including a particularly strong understanding of the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development of Middle School students. A deep appreciation and passion for education, particularly in an independent school environment will be conveyed by a solid understanding of educational practice and philosophy, and the ability to share the school’s philosophy and practice with prospective families.
The Head of Middle School must be an experienced administrator, with a successful history of building a warm and supportive culture as well as inspiring students and faculty to practice a growth mindset, lead with empathy, and make an impact in the world. The Middle School faculty, and their students, are tight-knit, proud of their individual “quirkiness” that binds them as a group. A sense of humor, optimism, humility, empathy, excellent emotional intelligence, extraordinary interpersonal skills, are essential qualities to possess to help this division thrive and move together as a division.
As Buckley continues to strive towards its aspirations for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive school, the Head of Middle School must be an experienced DEI champion and leader of institutional evolution. The Head of Middle School will partner with the Director of Diversity and Inclusion to recruit and retain diverse students and faculty, and curate professional development opportunities to increase institutional capacity in DEI.
As the leader of this important division, the Head of Middle School must be able to model the highest standards of professionalism and create warm, uplifting and trusting working relationships. The culture at Buckley is one that values hard work, clear and direct communication, a willingness to wrestle with difficult topics with colleagues and students, transparency in leadership and decision-making, and advocacy for the students and professionals in the school. This role demands strong verbal and written communication skills in person, by phone and through other electronic means, such as Zoom.
This faculty is eager to welcome a new Head of Middle School who is excited to develop a
collaborative new vision and explore new programs and offerings to strengthen the division. The new leader must demonstrate great individual integrity, initiative, self-awareness, commitment to personal and professional growth, ability to receive and apply feedback, and the ability to advance multiple strategic and operational priorities simultaneously.
Education, Experience and Skills
Master’s Degree required
A minimum of five years of independent school teaching experience preferred
Prior experience as an instructional coach, Dean, Assistant or Division Head preferred
Experience supervising and evaluating teachers and, ideally, administrators
Proficiency with Google Suite and Microsoft Office, and an interest in staying abreast of new technologies to support teaching and learning
About The Buckley School
The Buckley School, a K-12 college preparatory school with 830 students, is one of the most respected independent schools in the Los Angeles. Buckley is known for its unique educational philosophy, the 4-Fold Plan of Education, which melds a whole-child approach with elements of structure, as well as for its warm, intimate educational environment.
The school’s curriculum balances academics, the arts, physical development and moral education. Its creative, personalized approach to education emphasizes high academic standards for all students, and includes traditional touches that develop the character and discipline that unlock students’ full potential.