Established in 1887, Winchester Thurston School (WT) (winchesterthurston.org) is an independent, Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, coeducational college preparatory day school in Pittsburgh, PA, serving more than 630 students. Committed to cultivating confident, curious students who are articulate and self-directed, WT has enjoyed record enrollment and growth with its innovative curriculum. With approximately 36% of those enrolled identifying as students of color, WT strives to be an inclusive community that pursues the social and pedagogical benefits that diversity brings.
WT’s campus, located in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood, is situated in the heart of Pittsburgh’s educational, cultural, medical, and research center. Shadyside is approximately five miles east of the city center and is an established area known for its historic homes, distinctive boutiques, and lively restaurant scene. Carnegie Mellon University, Google, the Carnegie Museums, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts are a few of WT’s renowned innovative and cultural neighbors. WT’s nationally recognized City as Our CampusSM program leverages local resources, community partners, and cultural opportunities to provide experiential learning for students across all grades.
Guided by its founding credo, Think also of the comfort and the rights of others, WT has been a beacon of progressive education in Pittsburgh. In recent years, WT has achieved national recognition as one of five schools in the country to receive both an E.E. Ford Foundation Leadership Grant and an invitation to participate in the Malone Scholars Program.
WT seeks an experienced leader and visionary educator who will enthusiastically embrace and advance the school’s Mission, lead and support a dedicated, thoughtful faculty, and joyfully interact with its younger students to lead its Lower School division. The Lower School community will welcome a leader who is contagiously passionate and knowledgeable about early childhood education and who can inspire stakeholders, continue a challenging and inspiring learning process, and articulate well the values of a WT education.
Winchester Thurston School actively engages each student in a challenging and inspiring learning process that develops the mind, motivates the passion to achieve, and cultivates the character to serve.
Equity and Inclusion Statement
As a means to fulfill our credo, “Think also of the comfort and the rights of others,” Winchester Thurston will be an inclusive community and will pursue the social and pedagogical benefits that diversity brings.
We will place the highest value on enabling students to understand their own identity and those of others.
It is our moral imperative to be courageous and intentional in promoting understanding, addressing bias, identifying and honoring qualities of justice, respecting multiple perspectives and contributions, and valuing the dignity of all.
The Lower School
The Lower School serves 235 students, who explore new boundaries with energy and enthusiasm, develop critical thinking skills, and celebrate time-honored traditions.
Student-directed learning guides the experience, tapping into each child's natural curiosity and passions. Bears? Airplanes? Gardening? Physics? No matter a child's affinity, WT’s teachers guide students to develop important skills and habits of mind by exploring topics in depth.
Our faculty uses technology intentionally to enhance core learning that focuses on identifying and solving problems, understanding systems, and fostering creativity. And they use purposeful play to help children blossom as collaborative, empathetic, independent thinkers, and engaged citizens.
The Lower School uses the Responsive Classroom model, allowing teachers to use a common language and a variety of techniques to develop the whole child. Morning meeting, interactive activities, and energizers help students practice social skills and build a positive class community.
The Lower School curriculum fosters inquiry, examination, the blossoming of intellect, and the purposeful cultivation of character. At the heart is a strong foundation of language arts, math, science, social studies, and the arts. Additionally, WT is the only local school to provide elementary-age computer science and both Mandarin and Spanish studies.
The Lower School has 30 faculty members, who will embrace a confident, relational, supportive, inspiring, and energetic leader. The faculty seeks a divisional director who is experienced as a teacher and as an administrator; is visible and engaged, taking the time to understand and support the WT culture; and, is a responsive leader who is adept at effectively seeking input and moving forward with decisions and implementation for this division. There is a positive and warm community in the Lower School, and faculty members appreciate the collegial culture that encourages new initiatives and professional development while also allowing for autonomy and independence. Students are appreciated for their positivity, creativity, curiosity, and willingness to try new things.
Working in conjunction with the Assistant Director of Lower School and the Assistant Head for Education and Strategy, the Director of Lower School provides a visible, positive presence, resolves challenges, and serves as a primary liaison to the Head of School. The Director will partner with the Admission and Enrollment Team in hosting admission events and welcoming new students and their families to the WT community. While the Director is responsible for the daily operations of the Lower School, the individual in this position will also need to demonstrate leadership and vision – an ability to envision, to develop, and to implement a Lower School program which best serves the needs of the students. The Director will exhibit a commitment to expanding diversity among faculty and students and fostering an inclusive environment to promote learning and understanding.
The successful candidate will demonstrate a commitment to educational excellence that incorporates critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and character. Individuals will possess an understanding of student-centered approaches to learning as seen in WT’s commitment to experiential and project-based learning. In addition, WT’s next Director of Lower School will:
Demonstrate a commitment to academic excellence, innovation, and student success
Exhibit the leadership skills to serve enthusiastically and effectively as the visible, vocal, and strategic leader of the Lower School, including collaboration with the Admission Office
Possess an obvious appreciation for young learners and work from a place that understands the importance of supporting parents as part of their children’s educational journey
Have the ability to lead and inspire faculty as both a team leader and a team builder
Demonstrate intercultural competence, a global perspective, and a commitment to social justice and diversity practices
Be highly organized, embracing the value of systems, and be technologically adept
Demonstrate strong communication as a speaker, writer, and listener with the ability to approach difficult conversations with directness and kindness
Be highly knowledgeable and engaged in curricular initiatives, demonstrating success in working with faculty to explore and implement curricular, pedagogical, and programmatic change
Inspire a professional community of learners, respecting the tradition of faculty autonomy while ensuring both scope and sequence as WT remains true to its heritage of curricular innovation
Possess a decision-making style that balances input, collaboration, and decisiveness
Be good humored and adept at building strong, trusting relationships throughout the school community
To serve as WT’s next Director of the Lower School is a tremendous opportunity for an experienced school leader who is excited to join an active, dynamic school community, lead a committed, engaged faculty, and work strategically with the Head of School and the leadership team. The successful candidate will be a thought leader for progressive education who possesses a deep personal commitment to issues of diversity, equity, and social justice, has a successful track record of professional development in this arena and in recruitment of diverse faculty, and is excited to lead a school community with an embedded commitment to this work.
All inquiries are confidential, and a review of candidate materials will begin in December. Please complete an application and provide a resume, letter of interest, and contact information for 3 professional references at https://www.applitrack.com/winchesterthurston/onlineapp.
Winchester Thurston School is an equal opportunity employer.WT is dedicated to the goal of building a culturally diverse and pluralistic community and strongly encourages applications from people of color, LGBTQ candidates, and women.
Master’s degree, preferably in an educational field, with a minimum of 5 years’ teaching experience, is required. Experience in school administration (e.g. director/principal, assistant director/principal, director of equity and inclusion, dean of students) is preferred. Experience working in a lower school/elementary setting is preferred. General knowledge of the major education issues facing students and teachers in a lower school setting is necessary, and specific knowledge/experience in play-based learning, early childhood education, and programming are desired. The ideal candidate will have exceptional verbal and written communication skills, be highly organized, and efficient. The individual in this position must have demonstrable leadership skills and have a leadership style that perpetuates collegiality and collaboration. Excellent customer service and interpersonal skills are necessary. The ability to effectively collaborate and coordinate with students, parents, and colleagues is critical.
About Winchester Thurston School
Nationally recognized for innovative
teaching, Winchester Thurston is a Pre-K through Grade 12 independent school providing a
rigorous college preparatory program that
prepares students for the challenges of a
changing world. Situated within Pittsburgh’s university and cultural center, WT offers exceptional learning experiences in partnership with surrounding resources. Learn more at www.winchesterthurston.org.
one of America’s most livable cities,
Pittsburgh and its region feature distinctive
culture, sports, and recreation.
to learn about living in our community.