The Middle School
As an independent, college preparatory school, we provide an environment in which students strive to achieve their highest academic goals and to build character through a strong program of academics balanced by the arts and athletics. The Middle School is comprised of over 200 students in grades six through eight and 21 full-time faculty members. The Middle School faculty stretch students to develop the analytical, creative, and communication skills that will serve them throughout their lives. Students learn vast amounts of academic content. We also want students to think for themselves, which is a more ambitious goal. We strive to help students learn how to develop and defend their own informed points of view.
Classes in the Middle School are not driven by textbooks, teachers draw upon a variety of materials, pedagogies, and technologies to meet the individual needs of each student. Innovation is actively encouraged at Out-of-Door, so classes are constantly evolving as teachers enhance the curriculum and adopt the most effective methods for engaging young people in their own learning.
While students in the Middle School are encouraged to hone their personal intellectual voices, much of the learning environment is collaborative, from discussions to projects. Students are expected to work together toward common goals, and learning how to collaborate successfully is an important element of the academic program.
The school’s core values of respect, integrity, service, excellence and responsibility are infused into the Middle School program through proactive instruction, timely intervention, and focused reflection. All members of the Middle School are stewards of the school’s inclusive community, and in this role, they actively exhibit, promote, and intervene to support the school’s values. Beyond the core values, all components of the Middle School program foster, promote, and celebrate the character traits of persistence, effort, and grit.
Accordingly, students feel the intellectual and emotional security necessary to explore new areas, take reasonable risks, and ultimately make the most of the educational opportunities afforded to them. Adults and students enjoy a mutual respect, feel a sense of ownership and pride in the school, and consistently strive for excellence both personally and as members of the broader Middle School community.
The Florida Council of Independent Schools Visiting Team lauded the school in January 2016 for its “exceptionally positive learning environment characterized by mutual respect between faculty and students, carefully maintained facilities, and a demonstrated commitment to the core values.” Teachers and staff, who bring a breadth and depth of experience from both local institutions and the best independent schools across the country, are committed to their ongoing professional development. ODA provides generous support for professional growth ranging from funding for regional and national conferences to 100% tuition reimbursement for the pursuit of advanced degrees. A leadership development program provides a curriculum, mentoring, and coaching for aspiring leaders.
Academics. The Middle School’s curriculum is grounded in high academic expectations, interdisciplinary work, and collaboration. The development of critical thinking skills, the ability to communicate and collaborate, and creativity are emphasized over the pure acquisition of information alone. In the classrooms, students learn how to work effectively, both individually and collaboratively. Middle school faculty teach organizational and collaboration skills, require the completion of homework assignments, encourage student perseverance when the answer is not immediately evident, and provide ample extra help to ensure that students build the skills needed to succeed.
Students do not go to a computer lab to learn how to use technology. Technology is infused throughout our curriculum and classes. Students learn to use information and technology resources in classroom workshops at each grade level and apply these skills to current academic work. Our Library and Instructional Technology staff collaborate with teachers and work directly with students to help them master the information, research, and technology skills needed to thrive in today’s interconnected world.
Classrooms are outfitted with iPads, Macbooks, and Mimio interactive learning technology. Teachers strive to utilize technology to transform learning and students are encouraged to use these tools to create innovative ideas and projects. Learners persevere to become effective, efficient, and responsible users of information and technology. They learn how to find valid and reliable material, evaluate it for credibility, and synthesize all the evidence they find, ultimately understanding how to share that information in a global knowledge economy.
The Arts. Participation in music, theater, and the visual arts through both arts-focused classes and interdisciplinary curricula allows students to hone their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, exercise their imaginations, collaborate with peers and adults, develop independent thought, and express themselves creatively. Additional goals for students include developing a deep appreciation for the arts, gaining the ability to speak with confidence about a given craft, and understanding the influence of the arts on the world both currently and historically. ODA’s arts faculty, all accomplished artists themselves, is diverse in its pursuits and seriously engaged in the arts community on the local and national level.
Athletics. Athletics play an important role in the life of ODA and its students. Consistent with the school’s core values, student-athletes bring the same dedication and discipline to athletics that they take to their classrooms and performance venues. In return, they take away not only great skill development and accomplishments but also critical lessons in sportsmanship, teamwork, healthy competition, and winning and losing with grace. Out-of-Door encourages all student-athletes to participate on one or more of the middle school athletic teams that compete in the navy and white of the Thunder. We believe that the opportunity for participation in a wide variety of student-selected activities is a vital part of the student educational experience. Such participation is always a privilege that carries with it responsibilities to the school, the activity, other students, the community, and the athletes themselves. These experiences contribute to the development of learning skills and emotional patterns that enable the student-athlete to achieve the maximum benefit from his or her education.
The Student Experience. Beyond the school’s three pillars of academics, arts, and athletics, ODA provides learning opportunities that transcend the walls of the traditional classroom to better prepare our students to live, learn, lead, and succeed in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. The Dean of Student Life is dedicated to creating meaningful, age-appropriate, and intentional programs and activities throughout the year specifically geared for the middle school student. The activities range from evening events like socials and movie nights to afternoon games and friendly advisory competitions. The instruction and practice of collaboration and leadership skills are integrated throughout the academic, arts, athletics, and advisory programs. Student activities provide students an arena in which to practice and showcase their collaborative and leadership skills.
Student Support. ODA faculty maintain high expectations for students and the school’s robust academic program equips students with the skills to be analytical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and confident communicators. Yet each child is unique, and the path to excellence is not the same for every young person. Hence, Out-of-Door provides ample individualized support for students to achieve these expectations. Three significant areas of support include the faculty, the Advisory Program, and the Academic Services office. In their role as the primary point of contact for families and teachers, Advisors have a broad perspective on the development of each student in their care and they are able to marshal school resources to address a child’s unique needs. In addition, the Director of Middle School Counseling and Academic Services provides support for all students directly and through partnerships with classroom teachers. Students with specific learning needs receive additional support and targeted programming to ensure their academic success.
College Counseling. ODA employs a five-year developmental college counseling program that was specifically designed to help deconstruct and de-mystify the college admission process. Three full-time college counselors and one staff member work with students and families beginning in their eighth grade year to begin general education about the college process. Over the next four years, the program becomes increasingly in-depth and detailed as counselors meet and partner with students to help them discover which colleges and universities will fit their academic and professional aspirations but also ensure they are happy and connected as they embark on their college career. ODA students go on to a variety of institutions ranging from Ivy League universities to highly selective liberal arts colleges to universities around the country and overseas. Recent college acceptances can be found online here. The Class of 2016 matriculated 75% to private institutions, and 80% of seniors ventured out of state for their college experience. Since the inaugural graduating class in 1999, 100% of graduates have been accepted to a four-year college or university, and since 2009, over 90% of graduates have been awarded unsolicited academic scholarships.
The Middle School History Teacher will join Out-of-Door at an exciting time and will be instrumental in the ongoing, qualitative progress of the division.
Strategic priorities for the Middle School include building a more rigorous and innovative curriculum; creating a more inclusive school community; increasing the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity of the student body, faculty and staff; and strengthening the school’s commitment to wellness.
Like all Out-of-Door faculty members, the candidate should expect to develop healthy and lasting relationships with students, inspire them to reach their full academic and personal potential, live the school’s mission and core values on a daily basis, and contribute to the broader life of the school community, including coaching and leading extracurricular activities.
Reporting to the Head of Middle School, the Middle School History Teacher will be responsible for the following:
- Full-time faculty position in the Middle School starting August 2017
- Instruction of various aspects of history, including national, state, local, and global history. building on what the students have already learned in the lower school
- Guide students beyond rote memorization of historical names and dates while providing students opportunities to critically analyze historical events
- Promote a growth mindset about best practices and important trends in curriculum, pedagogy, educational technology, and extracurricular activities
- Model the school’s core values of respect, integrity, service, excellence, and responsibility and foster a culture in which students, faculty, and staff are known, valued, challenged, and supported along their unique educational journey
An energetic teacher who is able to promote collaboration, as well as, the effective use of technology in the classroom experience
A passionate teacher who promotes excellence, innovation, continuous improvement, and risk-taking
An educator who leads by virtue of being an active and engaged presence in the daily life of the division and whose style is rooted in transparency, honest communication, and collaboration
Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree preferred
Degree, training, or coursework in history, social science and/or history education
Experience in teaching in an independent, middle school setting
Experience in the development of curriculum, arts and athletic offerings, and extracurricular activities
A successful track record of working effectively with a wide range of school constituents, including faculty, staff, students and parents
Skills and Knowledge
A broad and deep knowledge of traditional and emerging curricular and pedagogical trends, current thinking about best practices in teaching and learning, and the use of technology to enhance the student experience
The ability to work successfully with a wide range of people from different backgrounds and to understand, respect, and acknowledge their unique perspectives, ideas, aspirations, and needs
A thoughtful teacher who embraces managed risk-taking, is not afraid to experiment with new ideas, and is excited by the opportunity to help a well established and thriving independent school reach new levels of success
An honest person who will live the school’s values and who effectively blends candor, care, and empathy in dealing with others
A flexible, open-minded individual who is comfortable with ambiguity, sees the “grays” rather than simply the “black and white” of various issues, and possesses the courage to follow through on his or her convictions
An educator who delights in working with students and is committed to their holistic growth by balancing academic achievement with involvement in the arts and athletics, character development, and wellness
A contributor to the broader life of the school community including coaching and leading extracurricular activities
An educator who inspires students to reach their full academic and personal potential
An approachable person who builds meaningful relationships, listens well, and respects differences of opinion
Compensation: Competitive with comparable independent schools across the country
Travel: Occasional travel between campuses may be necessary. Participation in grade-level field trips is required where applicable
Education: Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree preferred
Location: Lakewood Ranch, Florida
Other: Candidates of color are encouraged to apply
May Now Be: History Teacher; Social Sciences Teacher
Posted: January 25, 2017
Deadline: Application deadline is Friday, February 10, 2017