Common Ground is Seeking a CT Schoolyards Program Manager

Job title: CT Schoolyards Program Manager
Program Description

Common Ground’s CT Schoolyards Program supports teachers in integrating outdoor learning and play into their school. Core CT Schoolyards activities include:

  • Consultation, design, installation, and ongoing maintenance of edible gardens and native pollinator and habitat gardens, as well as outdoor maker-spaces and other creative play and learning spaces.
  • Professional development that supports teachers in integrating outdoor learning into their curriculum. PD takes the form of co-teaching, workshops, conferences, and hands-on events like Outdoor Days that welcome an entire school community to celebrate outdoor leaning on their school grounds.

More information on the CT Schoolyards Program is HERE, and photos of the work in action are HERE.

Schedule and Location

Full Time, primarily weekdays, however some evening and weekend work is necessary. In the Spring and Fall seasons, the CT Schoolyards Program Manager typically works most Saturdays. This is a 12 month position, including full time summer work. This position is based on Common Ground’s campus, and involves regular travel to area schools. 

Job Description

Seeking applicants who are looking to step outside the traditional teaching box, who are passionate about nature-based education, and who will thrive in a position that balances indoor and outdoor work as well as administrative time and hands-in-the-dirt time! In a single busy spring week, the CT Schoolyards Manager may:

  • Meet with a principal of a partner school to discuss details of a contract for service for the following school year
  • Lead a faculty meeting mini-workshop on outdoor learning at a local public school
  • Lead a crew of high school students in using hand tools and power tools to build raised beds to install at a local school
  • Dig for worms and plant lettuce with children at an Outdoor Day that sees 350 children participate in outdoor activities over the course of the school day
  • Participate in a conference call with partners to discuss deliverables and timeline on a grant funded project
  • Place orders for soil deliveries to partner schools
  • Deliver flats of spring seedlings to partner schools and arrange additional pick-ups at Common Ground
  • Respond to a press inquiry regarding a photographer and journalist attending an upcoming weekend Schoolyard Habitat ribbon cutting ceremony
  • Lead a CT Schoolyards team meeting to debrief a busy week and make sure the team is ready for the next one!
Over the course of the year, the responsibilities of the CT Schoolyards Program Manager include:

Program administration:

  • Supervise two part time employees whose primary work is direct services in partner schools (teaching, Outdoor Days, and co-leading the CT Schoolyards Crew)
  • Actively seek, implement, and manage contracts for services to be provided to local schools. 50% of the revenue that supports CT Schoolyards work is anticipated to come from contracts for service with local schools that are secured and managed by the CT Schoolyards Program Manager. 
  • Manage all aspects of the CT Schoolyards annual budget, including tracking grant related expenses and receivables and working with the Business Manager on invoices and financial reporting
  • Administer regular program evaluation and collect and report on data that provides evidence of program scope and impact.
  • Maintain relevant pages on Common Ground’s website and contribute to Common Ground’s outreach and social media content in order to share and promote the impact of the CT Schoolyards Program to a broad audience.
  • Participate as a member of the Community Programs Team. The Community Programs Team is composed of all educators working in Children’s Programs at Common Ground. The Team meets monthly for communication, coordination, and professional development purposes. The Community Programs Team also supports the work of the Development Department by providing information and content, communicating about program needs and opportunities, and participating in fundraisers and events as capacity allows.

Work with school partners:

  • Maintain ongoing relationships and services with existing school partners (currently 22). Support may include committee meetings, co-teaching, curriculum support, garden and outdoor space maintenance/ infrastructure help, running school-wide Outdoor Days, and other needed support that is within the scope of available funds.
  • Administer the Mini-Grant Program that offers funding to schools to support their school gardens. Manage publicity and outreach, application process, and visiting applicant schools. Number and amount of the grants vary each year depending on funding.
  • Plan and lead professional development for teachers, administrators, and informal educators. PD content touches on many areas of outdoor learning, including the how-tos of school gardens, strategies for managing and integrating outdoor play based learning into the school day, NGSS alignment with outdoor learning, and the design and implementation of loose parts and makerspaces as part of outdoor learning.
  • Manage the CT Schoolyards Crew in fall, spring, and summer seasons. The crew is made up of 3-4 Common Ground High School student workers who are participating in a paid Youth Development and Job Training opportunity. The Crew builds and maintains school gardens, habitats, maker-spaces, and outdoor classrooms. Managing the crew includes handling scheduling, logistics and planning, as well as co-leading many crew work days with the CT Schoolyards Crew Leader.

Expanding reach through networks and partnerships:

  • Coordinate and communicate with a variety of other organizations that we may partner with to pursue funding and implement programs. Past and current partners include Audubon CT, US Fish and WIldlife, Foodcorps, All Our Kin and many others.
  • Participate in the statewide CT School Garden Alliance and other relevant state-wide and national networks.
  • Partner with the Common Ground Farm Team to run seasonal Farm and Garden Conferences at Common Ground, with a focus on workshops that help teachers and other educators integrate gardening and outdoor learning into their curriculum. 

We are seeking candidates who have:

  • Passion for outdoor education and a commitment to Common Ground’s mission
  • Experience thinking about outdoor and environmental education through a justice and equity lens, and a commitment to working to reduce barriers to access to such programs
  • Significant professional experience in program management and administration, including supervising staff, managing contracts, grants, and deliverables, and responsibility for all aspects of budget management
  • Understanding of working within public school systems. Preferred qualifications include experience working as a classroom teacher and/or school administrator. Applicants with significant teaching or administration experience within New Haven Public Schools are especially encouraged.
  • Experience with outdoor or non-traditional education, including nature based education, play based learning, and inquiry-driven curriculum. Preferred qualifications include experience with vegetable gardening, native plants, and/or environmental education broadly.
  • Enthusiasm for exploring how Schoolyards can expand its impact through expanded service or publication of curriculum tools.
  • Strong critical thinking and problem solving skills and ability to work independently on big projects. Excellent time management, ability to make and maintain schedules and priorities, and attention to detail are essential.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills 
  • Prior experience in planning and leading professional development for educators and working with schools in a collaborative and supportive manner
  • Experience with program evaluation, data collection, and data reporting
  • Bachelor degree, Masters preferred
  • Reliable personal transportation is required, as the position involves regular local travel and transportation of teaching supplies to multiple school sites.

Compensation: Competitive salary and benefits package that includes health, vision, dental, Health Savings Account, paid vacation time, and access to free lunch on campus!

To Apply

Send a resume and a cover letter describing your relevant experience to Rebecca Holcombe:

Application deadline: December 9, 2019

Common Ground is committed to the recruitment and retention of staff that is reflective of the communities we work with. We strongly encourage applicants from people of color, immigrants, women, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and other underrepresented and historically marginalized groups.

It has been the policy and will continue to be the strong commitment of the Common Ground and all contractors and subcontractors who do business with Common Ground to provide equal opportunities in employment to all qualified persons solely on the basis of job-related skills, ability and merit. Common Ground will continue to take Affirmative Action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, mental disorder (present or past history thereof) age, physical disability (but not limited to blindness), marital status, intellectual disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and criminal record. Such action includes, but is not limited to, employment, promotion, demotion or transfer; recruitment or recruitment advertising; layoff or termination; rates of pay or other forms of compensation, and selection for training, professional development, attendance at conferences or other opportunities for advancement. Common Ground, its contractors and subcontractors will continue to make good faith efforts to comply with all federal and state laws and policies which speak to equal employment opportunity.

The principles of Affirmative Action are addressed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments of the United States Constitution, Civil Rights Act of 1866, 1870, 1871, Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VI and VII of the 1964 United States Civil Rights Act, Presidential Executive Order 11246, amended by 11375, (Non-discrimination under federal contracts)< Act 1, Section 1 and 20 of the Connecticut Constitution, Governor Grasso’s Executive Order Number 11, Governor O’Neill’s Executive Order 9, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Law (Sec. 46a-60-69) of the Connecticut General Statutes, Connecticut Code of Fair Practices (46a-7081), Deprivation of Civil Rights (46a-58(a)(d)), Public Accommodations Law (46a-63-64), Discrimination against Criminal Offenders (46a-80), definition of Blind (46a-51(1)), definition of Physically Disabled (46a-51(15)), definition of Intellectual Disability (46a51(13)), cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (46a-77), Sexual Harassment (46a-60(a)-8), Connecticut Credit Discrimination Law (360436 through 439), Title I of the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972.

This Affirmative Action Policy Statement re-affirms Common Ground’s commitment to equity in the workplace and the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity.


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