Be Part of a School You Can Love
Imagine looking forward to your job every day because you know you are doing something world-changing, because you love your work and the people you work with, and because your job, as great as it is, also leaves you time to enjoy life outside of it. You would want to build a career at a place like that — and that’s how we want our staff to feel about Empowerment Academy Charter School.
Review and apply for career opportunities online!BelovED Community Charter School is currently providing Human Resource services for Empowerment Academy.
A School Model That Is Effective Without Over-Stressing Educators, Making a “High Expectations” Culture Sustainable
New Jersey makes public schools accountable for teaching specific common core and state curriculum content standards. But exactly when during a school year should each academic standard be taught? How should it be taught? What assessments best measure whether a standard has been mastered? What do you do when a student has not mastered a standard, such as a reading skill, that is needed for the student to make further academic progress? How can teachers help individual students without ignoring the needs of all of their other students – all in a sustainable work day, that doesn’t burn teachers out?
At some truly excellent schools, teachers are left to answer these questions, and prepare most of the resources and materials they will use for instruction, all on their own. Some teachers love it, but this also puts huge burdens on teachers that over time can prove exhausting. At Empowerment Academy Charter School, reflecting our team approach to schooling and our desire to keep our teachers charged-up over an entire career, we answer these questions as a school and while our teachers have the option of designing their own materials to deliver a lesson, they can alternatively use field proven curricular resources that we provide enabling them to teach effective lessons without the stress. At the core of this effort is an innovative education program that we have licensed. You can read about the Sabis Educational System by clicking here.
In addition, we have implemented schoolwide systems and supports that enable us to progressively increase the extra help we provide to students who need it without putting the increased burden of extra help on their classroom teacher (as, unfortunately, do many schools). This enables us to realize a High Expectations/No Excuses school culture – a culture in which we as a school accept responsibility for ensuring that every student succeeds, “no excuses” – without burning out our teachers. This makes a High Expectations culture sustainable and benefits our teachers and students alike.
Important systems and teacher supports at Empowerment Academy Charter School include:
- The high-quality professional development we provide our teachers and the professional learning communities in which they participate;
- The field-proven curriculum, lesson plans, curricular materials, and formative assessment resources we provide teachers instead of expecting them, after a full day in the classroom, to spend additional long hours at home developing all of their lesson plans, curricular resources, and assessments from scratch;
- The reading and math specialists we employ to help students struggling to master an essential skill, and the social workers we employ to help students struggling with outside problems (instead of expecting teachers, all on their own, to successfully help every individual child overcome every challenging hurdle);
- The Academic Tutors we use so we can provide after school, Saturday morning, and summer supplemental instruction to students who need it without over-burdening our instructional staff so we can avoid draining teachers in a way that causes them to lose enthusiasm for the job.
- The ample planning periods that we provide so teachers can prepare for up-coming lessons during the regular school day.
Professional Development at Empowerment Academy
Top professional athletes constantly seek to refine their skills – and top educators do too. At Empowerment Academy, we support the on-going professional development of our faculty through training, through coaching, and through our teachers’ collegial sharing within professional learning communities. Prior to the start of school each year, our leadership team and all faculty members participate in a two-week summer institute. Training progresses from an overview of our school philosophy and design to in‐depth workshops on building our target culture and climate and succeeding with our values, study habits, and character development programs. During this process, our faculty also learns how to excel with our Language Arts Literacy and Mathematics programs and how to implement other key elements of our school design. To cite two examples, our educators learn about “Champion Teacher” classroom management and teaching skills, such as those encouraged by instructional expert Doug LeMov, and how to work with our computer-based, academic monitoring system and use student learning data to measure the success of school design elements, so we can continually refine these elements for the benefit of the entire school community. Building on this late August training, we schedule a number of additional training days during the course of the school year. These training days increase staff unity while helping staff members learn new strategies for addressing behavior and instructional challenges. We then further augment this formal training with less formal coaching. Empowerment Academy Community Charter School is divided into academies that consist of three grade levels, each with its own Dean of Instruction and Dean of Students. These Deans are available to model successful instruction and classroom management techniques for teachers and to provide teachers with personal coaching and support. In addition, on a weekly basis, grade-level teachers meet as a professional learning community to share ideas, collaboratively improve their practice, and identify potential improvements in school and education program design.
Collegiality and Communication
Collegiality and two-way communication are central elements of our school design and reflect our team-approach to school operations. Grade-level teachers meet as a professional learning community. There are also weekly meetings of grade-level Head Teachers and their Dean of Instruction and Dean of Students to review student learning progress and behavior and to explore solutions to individual student or school-wide challenges. In addition, every teacher has frequent, individual meetings with their Dean of Instruction. As a cap to all of this, at the end of every school year, several days are scheduled for staff to assess what went well during the preceding year and to identify and discuss where improvements might be made. The first day is devoted primarily to reviewing student learning data and student, parent, and staff surveys, to brainstorming, and to free and facilitated discussion (both in grade‐level groups and faculty‐wide). The next two days are action‐oriented, with staff collegially developing plans to solve problems and/or broaden the implementation of successful innovations. We believe that good decisions get made when decisions are informed by the insights of every community member, and that communities thrive when their members respect the decision-making process, knowing that everyone’s voice was heard.
Compensation & Our Career Ladder
Salaries at Empowerment Academy will be based on a new teacher’s experience and will be comparable to those in the Jersey City School District. Teachers will also enjoy full health benefits and will be members of the New Jersey Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (as are ALL public school teachers in New Jersey, whether at a district public school or charter public school.) A career ladder will offer educators opportunities for increased leadership and compensation. The ladder will detail the responsibilities and performance standards at each rung, from novice, to grade-level Head Teacher, to school leader, and will provide clear pathways for professional growth. We plan to develop a network of schools. If our plans are successful, new leadership opportunities will be constantly opening up for those who are qualified and interested.