The Primary School (TPS) is a new non-profit organization dedicated to dramatically improving health and educational outcomes for children. Fueled by the belief that the current model of school is too limited to close the achievement gap for our nation’s most at risk children, TPS is designing a new model of primary education and primary care which braids together education, health, and family support services starting at birth. We pair high expectations and joy, in a powerful community of supports to care for the whole child. With this innovative new model, we aim to expand the traditional definition of “school” in order to prepare all children to succeed in college, career, and life.
The Primary School approach has three defining characteristics:
Provide integrated supports: We partner with existing health care organizations to address the needs of the whole child. Educators, parent coaches and healthcare professionals come together as a team to provide integrated academic and health (physical, mental, and socio-emotional) supports to students and families.
Start early: We admit students at or before birth, and provide parent-driven, early childhood supports alongside medical care during the critical years of child development, ensuring that students are ready for school at age 3. Our infant-toddler program consists of regular parent-child playgroups to support the goals of attachment, language development and resilience.
Offer two-generation supports: We put families at the center of this work and focus on building parent capacity to support the health and education of their children. Families receive support, including group-based coaching, individual supports, and connection to other social services, to help them better support their children and become healthier themselves.
We opened our first site in East Palo Alto in 2016 and currently serve 250 children (ages 0 to 5) and their families. In 2018-19, the TPS school will serve children Pre-K (3s and 4s) through 1st grade. TPS was seeded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a major national philanthropy.
TPS is committed to designing a model that is replicable in other communities and redefines what is possible for our highest need children and families. We are investing in design, research, evaluation, and dissemination that will allow us to replicate our model and transfer our learnings to others.
ABOUT THE ROLE
TPS teachers are passionate educators who not only drive student instruction, but also serve as a critical partner to families, TPS staff, and health providers in delivering on our system of coordinated care for children. On a daily basis, teachers move seamlessly across the many different demands of their day - from staging the classroom, to serving breakfast, to leading humanities instruction, to supporting Assistant Teacher lesson planning, to analyzing student performance data, to discussing socio-emotional outcomes with parents and Parent Coaches, to following up with the Medical Director about a student health need. Beyond the scope of daily instruction and integration, TPS teachers also play an active role in the continued development and evaluation of The Primary School model.
Our Instructional Approach & Day
We believe that even at the earliest ages, children have diverse needs and that instruction must be personalized to each student. At TPS, this means a heavy reliance on small group and individualized instruction; a diverse day that addresses the many needs of kids; and a team approach that allows teachers to focus and prepare amazing lessons day after day. Our work truly focuses on the whole child, supporting the cognitive, socio-emotional, and health needs of our students.
We don’t adhere to a single philosophy or mode of instruction across our day, but instead draw on the wisdom of a variety of approaches and formats as they fit various development, content, and needs. We use a blend of inquiry, investigation, workshop, small groups and stations, read alouds and direct instruction. Our practice is highly intentional - we ensure a balanced and thoughtful use of all lesson types across the week and unit. We incorporate time, daily, for exploration and application of new learnings in authentic projects.
Our instructional day is divided into three blocks - Humanities, Math & Science, and Exploration. Students stay in the same class and classroom for most of the day, but work with 2-3 teachers.
Humanities: The largest block of the day, the Humanities block is used for integrated and individualized instruction around literacy, writing, language, social sciences, and critical thinking. Teachers use a balanced literacy approach, building and/or modifying high quality curriculum within our own integrated units while planning individual and small group skills lessons to reach each child.
Math & Science: The Math & Science block is used to build essential math and science skills and content. Instruction is integrated with the deeper learning and extended projects taking place in the Humanities and/or Exploration Blocks. We use a strong mix of curricular materials and approaches, with an emphasis on building rich conceptual understanding and cognitively guided instruction.
Exploration: The “E-block” is a daily “lab” for students to extend and apply what they are learning in other classes. Lessons feature ample investigation, enrichment, discovery, project-based, and hands-on learning and regularly take place outside.
We believe that essential skills and content should be “integrated and designated.” We dedicate substantial, designated time, daily, to social-emotional learning in our Community Meeting block, as well as throughout breakfast, recess and lunch. We offer daily physical and health education as well as ample opportunities for outdoor play.
The Primary School serves the communities of East Palo Alto and Belle Haven. Over 90% of families in these communities live in poverty and 65% of students are English Language Learners. It is our intention to serve a high-need population of students, focusing on families who have struggled or may struggle in traditional schools and/or health systems. We believe that a great school welcomes all students, including those with special needs, and empowers them to achieve truly incredible things.
Instructionally, teachers not only lead their own instruction, but also support junior teachers on their team in developing and executing comprehensive, integrated units across all parts of a student’s day. Teachers have a breadth and depth of instructional experience that allows them to build individualized instructional plans for students on top of our rigorous foundation of resources and unit plans.
Specifically, teachers are responsible for:
Annual, weekly, and daily instructional planning tailored to the needs of each child
Instructional delivery in large group, small group, and individualized formats
Regular assessment and analysis of quantitative and qualitative student data with the goal of tailoring responsive instruction and support
Collaboration with other teachers to practice skills and jointly problem solve
Regular meetings with and outreach to families, including daily documentation and notes
Proactive collaboration and frequent engagement with TPS Parent Coaches and staff, and external health practitioners and partners
Active participation in the ongoing design and implementation of the TPS model through research, curriculum development, engagement with school and organizational leadership, and focused professional development
You have a minimum of 3 years of experience as a classroom teacher (ideally within two grades of your desired position) and hold deep and diverse instructional competence. You have a command of balanced literacy and/or rigorous math instruction with young kids. You have well practiced habits of unit-planning and individualizing instruction, and a passion for integrating skills and content into every aspect of the classroom experience. You work hard to ensure goals are achieved in your classroom and across the school and organization, and your effort shows in exceptional academic results.
Your work demonstrates a practice of creating transformative classroom culture for allkids. Kids love being in your classroom because you foster a student-centered and individualized environment, invest in student socio-emotional and non-cognitive skill development, and fully include all learners. You are particularly skilled at and excel in working with English Language Learners and students experiencing the effects of trauma and poverty. You have a deep commitment to and unwavering confidence in the potential of all students.
You enthusiastically utilize data to understand what a student needs and to personalize instruction accordingly. You take full ownership of your classroom and students’ growth, and hustle to ensure your students achieve the greatest outcomes across academics, health and socio-emotional learning. You know that data isn’t everything, but you value data tremendously and see it as a powerful tool for driving towards greater student and program outcomes.
You have a parent- and family-centered mindset. Parents consistently share that you are the teacher they feel most comfortable reaching out to. On nights and weekends, you can’t help but find yourself at student birthday parties, quinces, dance recitals, and soccer games. Colleagues regularly ask you to put them in touch with the most difficult-to-reach parents. You believe that parents are essential partners in the work of schools and know first-hand that strong parent relationships have improved your own practice.
You recognize the multidimensional needs of children and families, because in your own way, you’ve been trying to weave education, health, and family support services together for your students. You’re the teacher who knows the family’s social worker and have exchanged emails with the child’s pediatrician. You read The Primary School’s “About the Organization” section and thought “That’s me! That’s what I’ve been trying to do!”
You get that starting a new school and organization is no easy task and are not scared - in fact, you’re energized - by the idea of putting in the long hours and deep commitment needed to bring The Primary School to life. You know that the teacher role will require much more than just fulfilling instructional responsibilities and relish the opportunity to engage outside of your silo. You are a self-motivated professional and meticulously plan your time, because there’s a lot to get done and time is a valuable resource. When you see a need, you fill it, and you aren’t above breaking down cardboard boxes and hauling them to the dumpster. You love the energy of a start-up environment and handle change with ease.
You are unafraid of diversity and engage confidently across differences. You believe that differences - in race, culture, gender, age, background, experiences - enrich our community and know how to bridge those differences with grace and humility.
You are kind, humble, and collaborative. You bring a positive attitude to every interaction and always see the best in others. You have the courage to step out of your comfort zone, and when you fall, you get right back up, remember what tripped you up and unabashedly try it all over again. You have an open mind and a thirst to learn and improve, and you can’t help but wonder what it would be like to work in an environment where every door is open and feedback is second nature. Even during challenging times, you see the “small victories” and maintain constant confidence in the team’s ability to achieve with every child.
Pre-K Experience and Credentials
Not applicable to Kinder & 1st Grade Candidates
Pre-K teachers require a current and valid Child Development Associate Teacher Permit; Child Development Teacher Permit; or Child Development Master Teacher Permit (see the California Child Development Permit Matrix for required coursework units and experience hours).
If a Pre-K teacher does not possess the required permit, The Primary School will work with the teacher to identify and complete the required coursework units and instruction or field experience hours before starting in the classroom.
A Plus If
You are an East Palo Alto or Belle Haven native and/or have experience working with a community similar to East Palo Alto and Belle Haven.
You have an understanding of early childhood education and child development.