With last night’s voting in of the Cambridge Public School’s annual budget, it became official that the district will hire an Academic Challenge and Enrichment Support Program Manager to oversee support and services for advanced learners in grades K-8. The new job position was created after months of advocacy by parents from CALA, the Cambridge Advanced Learning Association, and by some School Committee members.
CALA parents feel it’s very important to have a Program Manager in place, since the district has proposed new interventions for these students, including SAPs (Subject Acceleration Protocols, similar to an IEP for a student with advanced learning needs), and Cluster Grouping (a strategy of creating small, flexible, in-class groups of academic peers in classrooms). But Superintendent Young hadn’t identified a point person at the district level to oversee these and other services.
Dr. Young would have preferred to build a program in-house, using teaching coaches and administrative staff, but the CALA community felt it was very important to bring someone new to the district, with specific training and experience in working with advanced learners. This was also very important for insuring that advanced learning will be available to all students in need, including those disproportionately overlooked for these services, such as children of color, children from low-income families, or children receiving Special Education services.
Here’s the draft job description provided to CALA by School Committee member Fred Fantini:
Academic Challenge and Enrichment Support Program Manager (JK-8)
The Academic Challenge and Enrichment Support Program Manager will report directly to the Deputy Superintendent or designee.
- Oversee JK-8 program that supports the needs of advanced learners in the regular classroom; advocate for unique need of these students.
- Serve as resource person to the district on differentiating instruction for advanced learners.
- Provide professional development for teachers and administrators in differentiating curriculum and instruction, meeting the needs of advanced learners, and understanding the social and emotional needs of advanced learners.
- Work with classroom teachers and instructional coaches to set criteria for the identification of advanced learners who would benefit from additional academic challenge and enrichment.
- Advise classroom teachers and others on successfully designing and implementing individual plans developed through the Subject Acceleration Protocol which may result in strategies such as cluster groupings, curriculum compacting, etc. to further differentiate instruction and develop extension and enrichment opportunities within classrooms.
- Serve as a resource to principals, curriculum coordinators, classroom teachers, instructional coaches, students, and district administrators in the area of academic challenge/enrichment.
- Seek out and coordinate implementation of current research and best practices in the area of academic challenge and enrichment.
- Facilitate and communicate current resources and best practices related to academic challenge and enrichment programs and activities to schools, teachers, and families. Coordinate periodic family workshops and meetings, including guest speakers. Help families connect to resources and community to support advanced student learners. Serve as a contact person for families and as a liaison between families, schools, and curriculum areas.
- Seek out and write grants and pursue additional sources of funding.
- Perform other duties as assigned.
Minimum Qualifications: Master’s degree in Education, preferably with endorsement in Gifted and Talented education. Five years teaching/administrative experience in education, with a minimum of three (3) years in academic challenge/enrichment or gifted education, preferably in an urban public school setting. Mass. DESE Certification/Licensure: Supervisor/Director or Assistant Principal/Principal. Knowledge of gifted and talented program, service, and curriculum implementation. Knowledge of the Massachusetts State Standards with the newly adopted Common Core Standards. Excellent interpersonal and oral and written communication skills. Demonstrated experience working with staff, families and student on matters related to planning curriculum and instruction. Experience in data collection and analysis, program planning, and evaluation. Ability to communicate, interact, and work effectively and cooperatively with people from diverse ethnic, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds.
Terms of Employment: 12 month, non-union position, 8 hour day, $65,000