Located in the heart of Hollywood, the Episcopal School of Los Angeles, ESLA, (www.es-la.com) is an independent, college-preparatory day school serving grades six through twelve. Founded by the Reverend Maryetta Anschutz, ESLA opened its doors in 2012 to 28 students in the middle school, grades six through eight; in 2017, the school graduated its first twelfth-grade class of 10 students, and this year graduated 16 students, all of whom are currently enrolled in four-year colleges. Drawing from a long and strong tradition of Episcopal education, ESLA is dedicated to community building, to engaging big questions through reflection and synthesis, and to working out meaning among a collective. The school believes that conversation, service work, and ethical inquiry are essential components of an education. As such, since its inception, ESLA has sought to provide a strong college-preparatory education to an uncommonly diverse student body.
In 2017-2018 ESLA enrolled 174 students and expects to start the 2018 school year with 200 students as it continues to grow over the next four years to its goal of 360. About one third of the student body qualifies for full or substantial financial aid. ESLA currently funds about 45% of its tuition expenses with need-based scholarships—a tremendous financial commitment that fosters one of the most diverse school communities in the city. The majority of the student body is white, although ESLA is diversifying along racial and ethnic lines rapidly and intentionally to better reflect the city of Los Angeles. A majority of students who newly enrolled in 2018-2019 identify as students of color and approximately a quarter of these students speak Spanish at home.
As a young and growing entity, the school continues to evolve, guided by a strong core identity with an emphasis on community-building, social justice, and high academic standards. ESLA is dedicated to educating young people who understand the value of ethical self-reflection, rigorous inquiry, and generous civic engagement. The school community is diverse in all ways, including people of many faith traditions.
The teachers at the school are amazing. They reveal students’ passions and let those passions lead the students through the subject matter rather than expect students to absorb the material the way the teacher demands. Our school does not shirk from the hard questions and asks the students and families to consider them as well. ESLA is a school with true economic diversity combined with social responsibility, teaching in a progressive style with classical traditions. It’s a community that includes many parts with the ultimate goal of creating socially aware students who will make the world a better place.
The above, from a current parent, accurately gives voice to what the Episcopal School of Los Angeles is, and what the school strives to be. ESLA is a young, vibrant, and rapidly growing school and community with grassroots beginnings and ambitious goals. ESLA seeks an experienced school leader who is inspired by the school’s mission and goals to serve as Head of School beginning July 2019. For the 2018-2019 year, ESLA is being led by Peter McCormack, Interim Head of School. Peter recently completed a long tenure as Head of School at Rolling Hills Preparatory School.
ESLA’s mission is to create and sustain a campus devoted to nurturing souls and minds in an intellectually rigorous and spiritually curious academic community. The purpose of the school is to enable young people to thrive in an atmosphere of diversity and to become ethical leaders serving the community and the world.
Program and Structure
The senior administrative team, led by the Interim Head of School, includes the Head of Upper School, Head of Middle School, Chaplain, Executive Director, and Director of Enrollment and Outreach. During the course of the 2018-19 school year, there are plans to hire both a Chief Financial Officer and a Director of Development. As the school continues to grow and mature, the administrative structure will continue to evolve as well.
While the entire school does gather regularly, ESLA is a school of two divisions: the Middle School, grades six through eight, and the Upper School, grades nine through twelve, with a division head for each and programming that is age appropriate. ESLA currently employs 42 faculty and staff. The faculty continues to grow and gather experience with each hiring season; 16 new faculty members joined ESLA for the 2017-2018 year. ESLA’s faculty is young and also remarkably energetic, mission-driven, and adaptable.
Students in Middle School are required to take English, history, mathematics, science, Spanish, arts—both visual and performing—religion and ethics, and physical education. In the Upper School the standard course load is seven classes per semester. Students have requirements in history, English, mathematics, science, language, and the arts. The school offers a range of AP courses. There are elective requirements in religion and ethics, and service and justice, and for seniors, the Capstone Seminar, which supports seniors in a year-long investigative project. Projects are interdisciplinary in nature, and exhibit the mission and virtues of the school. Additionally there is an expectation that students, both in Middle and Upper School, participate in afternoon programming, which include opportunities in performing arts, studio art, robotics, athletics, and service.
The school community has been described as open and inclusive, intellectual and engaged, joyful, and a place where taking appropriate risks is encouraged. The school considers diversity to be fundamental to a good education. ESLA has worked to embed its dedication to service, inclusivity, diversity, and social justice into the curriculum by centering the school’s inquiry-based learning around these issues. The reading lists for English courses, the syllabi for history courses, the fact that all students take Spanish, conversations in science and technology, and theater and visual arts projects reflect these commitments.
The urban environment provides students with powerful opportunities to conduct service work, engage the city, and become literate citizens. The location in Hollywood places the school in reasonable proximity to many of both the city’s more affluent and more underserved neighborhoods, as well as many of the city’s cultural centers. Perhaps the most singular strength of ESLA’s program is its engagement with the world—community outreach, connection of academic content to real-world issues, and project-based learning. Students are introduced to outreach programs early, whether through afternoon ministry to locals who are currently homeless, or spending several days and nights on Skid Row, a yearly ninth-grade trip. Last year Upper School students planned a mission trip to Haiti, and seleted a Haitian school with which to establish an ongoing partnership.
ESLA provides a one-to-one Chromebook program for its students, operates an exceptional in-house food program, and offers robust after-school programming, including athletics, clubs, and study spaces. ESLA has competed interscholastically in squash, cross country, track, volleyball, and basketball while also having a fitness and club program. An experienced athletic director was hired last year and is working to increase programming and respond to students’ interests. The visual and performing arts and music programs have grown dramatically since the school’s founding. Students and faculty members are enthusiastic about the rituals and traditions of the school, which range from students being greeted daily as they arrive at school, to advisory, chapel, red-white competition, and gatherings in the Commons.
One of ESLA’s greatest strengths is its uncommonly strong relationships with community partners. The school has built partnerships with the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition, Laundry Love, Covenant House, LA Voice & Workers Union Center, Day Labor Center, the Alliance, YES, ABC (A Better Chance), YMCA, and others.
Governance, Budget, and Facilities
The Board of Trustees includes eight members. Like the faculty and the broader community, board members are dedicated, mission-driven, and engaged. Many have made very significant financial commitments, several have been with the school since its founding, and most participate in committees that support the school’s administration of advancement, financial accounting, and facilities. With a stable core of eight, the board will be growing its membership over the next several years.
The two largest expenditures in ESLA’s annual budget are personnel and financial aid, which highlights the school’s dedication to building a strong, diverse community. As the school continues to mature, the need to develop non-tuition revenue streams to ensure long-term stability is essential.
ESLA’s founding was unique in the independent school world; there was no endowment or large capital gift at the school’s launch. Currently ESLA has approximately $19.6M in assets, much of which is in its property value. While tuition provides important revenue, the school has been largely financed through the generosity of its network of friends and independent donors. ESLA continues to grow and formalize advancement initiatives. It has made significant recent strides in engaging its immediate community in giving; in September 2017, a matching gift challenge netted $1.7M and garnered 100% participation from families, faculty, and trustees. After a recent commitment by an anonymous donor, the school has been able to completely pay off the mortgages on its property.
The school’s campus is situated just off of Santa Monica Boulevard, a main urban thoroughfare. ESLA’s campus contributes to its unique character. The school is situated in the heart of Hollywood and includes two repurposed post-production studios—the Schoolhouse (15,556 square feet) and the Jungle (28,956 square feet), and an outdoor sports facility. The school’s physical spaces are well designed, both funky and functional, enabling great learning and gathering spaces. ESLA acquired the Jungle, its second building, in the fall of 2016. The Jungle serves as the Upper School. Its acquistion added more than fourteen classrooms, state-of-the-art film and music facilities—including a screening room and soundproof recording studio—a black box theater classroom, a light-filled visual art studio, great outdoor patios, a brand-new fitness and weight room, and additional student and faculty workspaces. The Schoolhouse’s largest open room, the Commons, serves as the chapel, lunchroom, and space for dance and theater, and a former parking lot has been repurposed as a sports court with two basketball hoops, a volleyball net, and outdoor sports flooring. The Schoolhouse’s incubator space provides students open access to a robotics lab, visual and digital arts spaces, art supplies, cameras, computers, projectors, and a 3D printer. The summer of 2018 will see major renovations to both buildings.
The school is a member of both the California Association of Independent Schools and the National Association of Independent Schools. The school completed its accreditation self-study during the spring of 2018, and the CAIS/WASC Visiting Committee spent time at the school in April. ESLA was awarded a seven-year status of accreditation. The incoming Head of School will have the added benefit of the self-study report and the commendations and recommendations of the Visiting Committee.
ESLA has been on a strong, upward trajectory since its founding, and continuing that forward, positive momentum is essential. A number of ESLA’s opportunities are centered on its youth and rapid growth as an organization—building intentional structures that support hiring, mentoring, evaluation, curriculum review, and effective internal and external communication protocols as detailed below.
A thoughtful and comprehensive planning endeavor will help identify and prioritize important initiatives as the new Head of School learns this community. The board looks forward to engaging in a strategic planning process with the new Head of School, enabling new leadership to participate in further shaping priorities. A piece of this strategic plan will likely include an assessment of the administrative structure to ensure it well meets the needs of the growing school and its expanding programs.
The school’s faculty is not as diverse as its student body, and there is strong interest in strengthening the diversity of the faculty and staff. Formalizing the hiring process, mentoring and further supporting faculty members with professional development and classroom observation are top institutional priorities, and should increase faculty retention. A Head of School who shares the school’s commitment to creating and supporting a diverse professional community and who appreciates and enjoys mentoring faculty and administrators will be a good match.
ESLA needs to implement a structure to examine its curriculum to ensure scope, sequence, and intentionality, while still enabling and encouraging faculty’s innovation. ESLA’s next Head of School should be an educational leader who is well versed in pedagogical best practices and who can articulate and demonstrate through program implementation that a great school can be both academically dynamic and wonderfully nurturing. The professional community will respond well to knowledgeable, respectful, and inspirational leadership. Thus, a leader who is collaborative, respectful, and understands how to facilitate inclusive, professional conversations to generate shared vision and goals will be a successful leader for the ESLA professional community.
A leader who understands the essential importance of intentional and consistent communication with both internal and external stakeholders will serve ESLA effectively. As relationships are enhanced throughout the school community, developing shared and respectful communication protocols will provide helpful parameters for exploring differing perspectives. This includes continuing to advance a cohesive “one-school” model with the Middle and Upper divisions working in harmony and with appropriately similar practices and philosophies.
At its core, ESLA is committed to diversity and equity. The next Head of School needs to continue to support this diversity by maintaining equality and inclusion and supporting families both publicly and behind the scenes.
A new Head of School will have the opportunity to engage the community further in conversations to articulate clearly the school’s mission and commitment to academic rigor as it is fulfilled in ESLA’s classrooms. The community will welcome a leader who can inspire stakeholders and ensure continued innovation and who is contagiously passionate and knowledgeable, embracing and modeling what has defined ESLA: its commitments to equity, social justice, and developing leadership. ESLA has the potential to be a model school and thought leader in the world of education, especially as a community that is successful in its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice. A new Head of School who is excited to help the school further realize that potential will be welcomed.
ESLA’s next Head of School will be an upbeat, confident, educational leader who will enthusiastically embrace the school’s mission, community, and culture. Along with being a visible and positive ambassador both within the school community and in the greater Los Angeles area, the new Head of School will be a dedicated academic leader and educator who joyfully connects with people of all ages.
Another parent wrote of her hopes for the next Head of School: “We hope for a Head of School who embraces the school’s urban location. ESLA students are not kept in a bubble of privilege. Students live IN the city—taking the metro for a field trip or walking to the local recreation center for basketball games. The school is not hidden behind gates or guards. It makes for things to be a bit messy (100 kids crossing the street at lunch) or feel disorganized (try getting 30 kids on the city bus at the same time), but that’s totally fine with ESLA families. We are not looking for clean and polished. We’re looking for real and true.”
The Episcopal School of Los Angeles seeks an enthusiastic and knowledgeable educator with a successful leadership track record to serve as its next Head of School. The ideal candidate will be an individual who is an intellectual leader, models life-long learning, and who seeks a diverse community that cares deeply about personal relationships. ESLA seeks a leader who:
Will embrace ESLA’s mission and Episcopal identity and will serve as a sincere and compelling ambassador internally and in the larger community
Enjoys building relationships with all stakeholders and will appreciate a school community that seeks a visible, accessible, and good-humored leader
Has demonstrated the ability in other settings to build, support, and enhance community
Is a strong, sincere, and confident communicator and a decision maker who thoughtfully balances collaboration with decisiveness—or as one faculty member said, “A leader with a delicate touch while being able to draw a line”
Both enjoys and has experience in the areas of development and fund-raising
Has a successful track record of hiring, developing, and retaining excellent teachers as well as building a faculty culture that allows for predictability, planning, and fairness
Shares ESLA’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion while furthering the school’s diversity efforts
Has strong strategic planning and organizational skills, possessing the vision and tenacity to implement needed structures and protocols that will enhance and not stifle this innovative, dynamic community
Manages and leads with compassion, humor, respect and confidence, and?
Is a person of integrity and character.
ESLA’s next Head of School will have a tremendous opportunity to join a strong, inspirational school community and continue to build on its many strengths. An individual with strong personal skills, who thrives in a dynamic setting, enjoys building collaborative partnerships and deeply espouses the ideals of strong academics and a community-based mission will be well-suited for ESLA.
Please send a Resume, Letter of Interest, and Personal Statement and/or Statement of Educational Philosophy to:
The Episcopal School of Los Angeles affords equal employment opportunity for all qualified employees and applicants as to all terms of employment, including compensation, hiring, training, promotion, transfer, discipline, and termination. The Episcopal School of Los Angeles prohibits discrimination against employees or applicants for employment on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (40 and over), sexual orientation, or military and veteran status or any other basis protected by law.
About The Episcopal School of Los Angeles
Serving students in 6-12th grade, The Episcopal School of Los Angeles is a city school founded in the heart of Hollywood. We are looking for bright, hardworking, creative teachers and staff members who are interested in being a part of a pioneering generation of educators. Technology and ethics play a central role in our culture. As an Episcopal School, we are an inclusive community that welcomes people from all backgrounds. Unlike traditional independent schools, 75% of our students receive financial aid. As a result, we offer both one of the most diverse communities in the independent school market.