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School Leader

Building 21 | Philadelphia PA 19130 USA | Full Time - 12 Month | Revised: 09/02/2013

Job Descriptiontop

Building 21

School Leader


Building 21 is seeking an experienced and creative founding School Leader to oversee the design, development, and implementation of our first high school.  Reporting to one of the Building 21 co-founders, the School Leader will work collaboratively with a cross-functional team of instructors, technology experts, community members, students, parents, administrators, and representatives of industry over the next 12 months to design a new high school model that realizes the vision of Building 21 to “customize education at scale” (see About Building 21 below for additional information).  Building 21 is committed to customizing learning for each student through: a competency-based system; the robust use of technology as a means, not an end, to improved teaching and learning; highly collaborative structures for teachers, students and partners; and community-embedded learning experiences.  

The first Building 21 School will open as a high autonomy, in-district public school in Philadelphia in the Fall of 2014.  The school leader will be a Building 21 employee for the design year and then become a School District of Philadelphia (SDP) employee for the 2014 school opening.  The school will open with approximately 125 students and grow to 500 students over four years.  


Design Process

  • Actively participate in cross-functional design team to develop the Building 21 competency framework, instructional model, assessment system, student and adult induction process, and professional development program.

  • Develop initial staffing plan and hire founding team.

  • Work with community and industry partners to develop applied learning opportunities.

  • Work with Chief Information Officer and design team to embed and fully integrate technology into the instructional model and operational processes of the school.

Instructional Leadership:

  • Ensure that the pedagogy and instructional model of the first school reflect the values, vision and mission of Building 21.

  • Establish a rigorous and engaging learning environment that couples high standards with necessary supports.

  • Ensure deliberate and meaningful integration of community-based and project-based learning experiences such as work-based internships and service learning opportunities into the school-based learning experience.

  • Model and foster a culture of transparency, risk-taking, continuous learning, and collaboration.

  • Create structures for inquiry and teamwork among faculty and students.

  • Oversee the ongoing development of the curriculum and instructional model as the school grows.

  • Work with team to develop and to implement a system of formative and summative assessments that support student and teacher growth and learning.

  • Partner with the School District of Philadelphia to ensure mutual learning and integration regarding instructional practices.

Strategic Leadership:

  • Passionately communicate the Building 21 mission and vision to faculty, students, members of the community, and other stakeholders.

  • Intentionally build and maintain structures for authentic family, parent and community engagement in the school.

  • Partner with key SDP personnel during the Building 21 start-up.

  • Engage in a learning community with other school developers and school leaders in Philadelphia.

  • Develop and sustain partnerships in the network to support student-learning pathways.

Operational Leadership:

  • Oversight of day-to-day activities in the school.

  • Responsibility for school budget.

  • Oversight of staff including hiring, firing and performance assessment.

  • Oversight and use of learning management system to dictate instructional priorities and determine student and teacher success.

  • Oversight of a complex school structure that supports flexibility and choice in time, place and pace of student learning.

  • Recruit and enroll students.


Required Qualifications and Experience

  • PA Principal Certification (by June, 2014).

  • At least seven years of teaching/administrative experience (at least two of these years should be administrative).

  • Ability to lead, plan and manage in an entrepreneurial, team-oriented, and fiscally challenged environment.

  • Demonstrated ability to communicate well with a wide variety of people.

  • A growth mindset.

  • Highly collaborative.

  • A demonstrated personal commitment to life-long learning.

  • An inquiry stance.

  • Entrepreneurial instincts.

  • Comfort with start-up and ambiguity.

  • Demonstrated ability to implement high quality instructional practices for students.

  • Desire to innovate and iterate.

  • Fierce belief in the potential of young people.

  • A healthy frustration with the current status of secondary education.

  • Ability to rethink structures and staffing in service to student learning.

  • High standards and expectations for self and others.

  • Sense of humor.

Pennsylvania (PA) Principal Certification:

Applicant must have a PA principal certification completed by June 2014 or transferrable certification from another state.  Information about PA principal certification can be found at:

Salary and Benefits:

  • Salary: Commensurate with qualifications and experience.

  • Benefits: Strong benefits package provided.

Application Submission:

As an equal opportunity employer, we are committed to identifying and developing the skills and leadership of people from diverse backgrounds. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply.

To apply, please submit your letter of interest and resume to

For more information, please visit our website at

About Building 21:

Building 21 is a non-profit school development organization that seeks to customize secondary education at scale.  Our mission is to create a network approach to secondary and post-secondary learning for high school age youth that fundamentally reorients the system to place the learner at the center.  This is accomplished by utilizing time, space, tasks, and assessments in a personalized and flexible manner.  We believe that a mastery-based permeable school model that engages students directly with post-secondary learning opportunities and authentic learning experiences supported by technology and blended learning approaches, will be critical levers for realizing this vision.  Building 21 has entered into an agreement with the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) to open the first Building 21school in the fall of 2014. The school will open as a high autonomy SDP public school.  Lessons gleaned from the planning process and the initial implementation of the demonstration school will inform SDP's high school transformation efforts more broadly, especially for underserved youth.  The objectives of the Building 21 model are to:

  • Motivate and support an array of learners to meet high academic standards, to develop the mindsets for personal growth and success, and to obtain meaningful job-related credentials

  • Redefine the place, time, and tasks of learning

  • Integrate advances in technology with the timeless fundamentals of relationships, personal support, and proven approaches to teaching and learning

  • Build new postsecondary partnerships and pathways

  • Engage communities in educational and economic development

  • Build a playlist of learning options including online, offline, individual, small group, large group, skills-based, and applied learning opportunities

  • Build a network of learning experiences and resources through partnerships with individuals, community organizations, employers, and subject matter experts down the street and across the globe

  • Curate, create and organize content to support proficiency based pathways

Building 21 is a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest projects and grant-making programs. The New Venture Fund is committed to attracting, developing and retaining exceptional people, and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding and enables each of us to realize our potential. The New Venture Fund's work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of races, ethnicities, national origins, ages, sexual orientations, gender identities, beliefs, religions, faiths and ideologies, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and levels of physical ability.  

Job Detailstop

Location Philadelphia, PA, United States
Categories Head of School/Principal
Organization Type Non-profit Organization
Grade Level High School
Experience Years 7 yrs

Location Maptop

Contact Informationtop

Contact Name Laura Shubilla
How to apply Applications are no longer accepted for this job posting.
Job Code -