FILLED-Common Ground is Seeking Nature Based Teachers and Assistant Teachers

Job Title:  Nature Based Teachers and Assistant Teachers

Organization Overview

Common Ground is a center for environmental learning in New Haven, Connecticut. Farm meets forest meets city on Common Ground’s 20 acre campus at the base of West Rock Ridge. The site abuts the 1800 acre West Rock State Park, sharing hiking trails, wildlife, and diverse natural habitats with the surrounding forests. Common Ground’s urban farm produces sustainably grown food for programs and our community, and is home to our friendly farm animals. Common Ground’s Charter High School uses the site as an organizing principle of its curriculum which is guided by an ecological framework highlighting the connection and interdependence of all living and non-living things. Each year, more than 10,000 community members participate in festivals, field trips, after-school programs, and other educational opportunities on site. For more information visit

Job Description

Help us connect children to nature based learning and play! Seeking full time and part time teachers and assistant teachers who are passionate about making outdoor learning accessible to more children.

Our educator team will work in a variety of programs and settings in the 2021 – 2022 school year:

On our campus, as staff in our NatureYear, Kids Unplugged, and School Field Trip programs. NatureYear is based on a forest school model, connecting a small group of children (ages 5 – 13) with a 10 month long intensive experience in nature. Children come for one full day each week instead of attending their traditional classroom on that day. NatureYear teachers use an emergent curriculum that follows the seasons and the interests of the children. Teachers provide content based learning about science, nature, and the environment as well as facilitate and create opportunity for adventure based play. Kids Unplugged is a recreational after school program full of hiking, farm animals, fort building, mud pie making, and other outdoor play! School Field Trips offer farm and forest based experiences to visiting classes from local schools.

At local schools, using the school’s outdoor spaces as the setting for science and nature based lessons, hands-on activities, and play. Working at local schools requires a creative educator who can see an asphalt and grass lot and imagine a world of possibilities! Many schools have or are in the process of developing gardens, mud kitchens, loose parts play zones, and other outdoor learning spaces. Work at schools includes the opportunity to help develop and maintain these spaces, making outdoor learning more accessible to the whole school community.

At local parks, connecting students from public schools to forest school style learning similar to the NatureYear program. A series of full day field trips immerse children in nature, including both lessons designed and led by our team and child directed play time.

Our programs welcome children and staff of all identities and our educators must be committed to anti-bias and anti-racism in the ways that we communicate, teach, manage behavior, set policy, and all other aspects of our work as a team and with the community.

Part time and full time TEACHERS are responsible for planning and leading lessons and activities and have primary responsibility for setting group culture, making safety decisions, and communicating with parents and participating teachers. This position requires exceptional behavior management skills, excellent judgement, adaptability, flexibility, and the ability to make sound decisions on-the-spot. This position also includes regular verbal and written communication with the parents of enrolled children and participating teachers from local schools.

Our team has shared documents and resources to guide lesson and activity planning and there is also significant opportunity to develop your own lessons and activities. No two days or teaching settings are the same, so creative educators who are excited to learn from our experienced team and also bring their own ideas and skills will truly enjoy this opportunity.

Part time ASSISTANT TEACHERS are not required to have experience with planning and leading outdoor education activities but may be asked to lead activities as designated by the teacher they are supporting. Assistant teachers play an essential role in ensuring a safe, organized, and joyful experience for children. Assistant teachers help with supervision, social/emotional support of children, materials management, and other support needs throughout the day.

Additional responsibilities:

These positions are members of the Community Programs Team and are supervised by the Director of Community Programs. Additional position responsibilities include:

  • Participation in ongoing staff development and meetings as scheduled for the Environmental Education team
  • Work to support the overall operations of the non-profit programs, which may include animal care, maintenance of program teaching and play areas, garden care, and working in additional programs for children and families as needed.
Position Requirements
Requirements for all teacher and assistant teacher positions:
  • A passion for Common Ground’s mission and commitment to equity, diversity and environmentalsustainability.
  • Experience working with groups of children in an educational or recreational setting.
  • Strong critical thinking and problem solving skills and ability to use sound judgement as part of routine daily work.
  • Commitment to working joyfully and inclusively with children and adults of all identities, with much of our work serving a racially and economically diverse urban school community.
  • Commitment to child centered teaching and behavior management, with the ability and desire to consider and seek to meet the needs of individual children.
  • Comfort with working in a setting with farm animals as well as native wildlife including insects, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds.
  • Ability and willingness to engage in the physical requirements of this role, including being physically active for the majority of an 8 hour day, safely navigating outdoor terrain, walking up to 4 miles per day on outdoor terrain like forest trails, sitting on the ground, carrying a backpack with teaching supplies that may sometimes weigh up to 20 pounds, and teaching outside in weather conditions including heat, rain, cold, and snow.
Additional requirements for part time and full time TEACHER roles:

not required for ASSISTANT TEACHER applicants

  • Experience planning and leading nature based lessons and activities for groups of children in a formal or informal setting (school, camp, nature center).
  • Understanding of developmental needs of children ages 5 – 13 and experience in a teaching position that is responsible for meeting social and emotional needs of children, including all aspects of behavior management, setting group routines and group culture, and modifying plans and schedules to meet the needs of individual children.
  • Strong communication skills, including speaking with children and adults as well as written communications with parents and with partnering teachers.
  • Ability to work independently and be self directed as well as to compromise, communicate, be flexible, and work closely with a staff team.
Preferred (not required) qualifications:
  • Bachelor degree or higher in education, environmental education, or related field (for teacher applicants)
  • Skills or interests that enrich your teaching: knowledge of native plants/animals, gardening experience, experience cooking garden based recipes with children, experience with farm animals, musical skill that you are excited to share with children, experience with cooperative games and other positive group management techniques, outdoor skills like orienteering or campfire cooking, a love of storytelling, or other skills that you’d like to share with children as part of creative, nature based learning.
  • Current CPR and First Aid certification

These positions start on August 30, 2021.

PART TIME teacher or assistant teacher positions require commitment to a regular schedule of at least 2 days per week (typically weekdays) from September through June.  Openings may be for 2, 3, or 4 days per week (15 – 30 hours per week). Hours are typically 8:30 AM – 4 PM for teachers and 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM for assistant teachers. A schedule based on after school program hours of 2:30 PM – 6 PM may also be available. Summer work is available but not a required commitment as part of this position.

FULL TIME teacher positions are 40 hrs per week, typically weekdays from 8:30 AM – 4 PM, but full time staff may have some variation in that and may also have occasional or regularly scheduled evening and/or weekend responsibilities. Full Time teachers work a 12 month schedule, including summer camp in July and August.


$15 – $18 per hour, depending on experience.  Part time positions do not include benefits.

Full time positions start at $34K and starting salary may be higher depending on experience. Full time positions include paid vacation and medical and dental insurance.

These are one year positions associated with specific funding and are renewable contingent on future funding. The currently funded period is August 30, 2021 to June 30, 2022 for part time positions (with the opportunity to add summer camp work) and August 30, 2021 to August 30, 2022 for full time positions.


Common Ground: 358 Springside Ave, New Haven, CT

Work may take place on our campus or at schools or parks in the greater New Haven area

To Apply

Complete the online application HERE and email a resume to Rebecca Holcombe at

Application deadline: July 15, 2021

Interviews for qualified applicants are ongoing and positions may be filled before the application deadline


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, mental retardation, criminal record, 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 conference 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-70-81), 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 Mentally Retarded (46a-51(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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