Forest School Teacher and Environmental Educator
Common Ground is a center for environmental learning and leadership 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 organically grown food for our programs and our community. Common Ground’s Charter High School serves 225 students with a focus on authentic, relevant learning experiences and environmental and social justice. Our Environmental Education programs serve over 10,000 community members annually who participate in festivals, field trips, after-school programs, summer camps, and other educational opportunities on our campus and in the greater New Haven community. For more information visit www.commongroundct.org.
See our work in action on Instagram:
Seeking creative, kid loving outdoor educators to join us in using adventure, imagination, and inquiry to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders!
Our campus is full of opportunities for learning! Our FARM features a children’s garden, production fields, greenhouses, farm animals, and honeybees. Our FOREST includes trails, wildlife, and diverse natural habitats. Our CAMPUS opportunities include a wetland full of wildlife and a winter maple sugaring operation as well as PLAY SPACES including mud kitchens, fort building, large and small loose parts play, slides, cabins for gathering and for camping, campfire meeting circles, an indoor teaching kitchen and classroom, and a children’s woodshop.
Our programs for children and families serve all ages. Drop-off programs include ages 4 – 14, with ages 5 – 9 representing our largest age group. Inclusive community is core to our values and our students and families are diverse in many ways.
Our environmental educator team is about 10 full time and 20 part time staff during the school year, growing to 80+ for seasonal summer programs. Our team’s professional backgrounds include a variety of formal and informal education and youth development work, plus a shared love for and knowledge of nature and outdoor skills. Our team represents many personal identities and life experiences and we value having a team that reflects our belief that nature is for everyone.
We count on our full time Environmental Educators to be the stable core of our work – the knowledge holders, mentors, and leaders who form relationships with families, children, and our place over time. This is not a seasonal outdoor education job! Our ideal applicant is seeking connection and community and is looking for a role they can stay in for at least two years. Many of our team have been with us for 5 – 10 years!
During the school year this position is primarily assigned to teaching in the NatureYear program. NatureYear connects small groups of children (ages 5 – 13) with weekly full day outdoor learning from Sept – June. NatureYear teachers offer lessons and experiences that follow 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 opportunities for adventure and imagination based play. NatureYear is conducted almost entirely outdoors in all weather, with indoor spaces typically used only in severe weather.
From mid-June through mid-August this position works in a teaching or administrative position with summer camp.
A typical week:
- During the school year our NatureYear teachers are typically scheduled for four days of teaching and one day of program support/planning/campus care. Teaching days are six hours of program time with prep and clean-up time on either side. Multiple teachers and assistant teachers work in teams of 2 or 3 each day and collaborative work that requires communication is the norm. Teachers plan their activities, prep their materials, use email/google docs/google calendars to coordinate their work, and share end of day emails and photos with families that summarize the day’s learning and play.
- In the summer we lead 6+ weeks of day camp, spending our weeks cooking, hiking, playing games, enjoying campfires, and creating summer magic for kids. Summer camp work is 5 days per week with campers, with some team members working in admin or hybrid admin/teaching roles.
Our team has a wide variety of skills and interests! We are currently prioritizing applicants with strong skills in working with children ages 4 – 8 but will consider applicants who have professional experience with any age range from 4 – 14. Most of our teachers also have strong skills in one or more of the content areas that we share with children:
- Gardening (vegetables, herbs)
- Native plants (identification, use, wild edibles, cultivation)
- New England wildlife (sometimes with a special area of focus like amphibians or birds!)
- Farm animal care
- Bee keeping
- Cooking with children (with a focus on veggies/local foods/trying new things!)
- Outdoor skills (campfires, outdoor cooking, orienteering, camping and survival skills demos, etc)
- Primitive skills (whittling, burn bowls, basket weaving, cordage making, etc)
- Woodworking/building/tinkering (we have a children’s woodshop!)
- Nature arts, music, storytelling, and self expression
What would you like to share? Tell us about your skills and areas of interest in your application!
This position is a member of the Community Programs Team and reports to the Director of Community Programs. In addition to direct programming, responsibilities include:
- Participation in ongoing staff development as a member of the Environmental Education team
- Ongoing commitment to anti-bias and anti-racist work, including participation in professional development and implementation of any new curriculum, policies, or ways of working together and with our community.
- Work to support the overall operations of the non-profit programs as needed and available. This may include animal care, maintenance of program teaching and play areas, garden care, and working in additional programs for children and families, Common Ground High School outdoor education support, and fundraising events as possible within a full time schedule.
- Significant experience with engaging groups of children in outdoor learning, including responsibility for relevant content and for group safety and risk management
- Commitment to child centered teaching and positive behavior management, including establishing group routines and culture and implementing plans that meet the needs of individual children.
- 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 community.
- Strong communication skills, including speaking with children and adults as well as written communications (newsletters, daily/seasonal child reports, etc).
- Use strong critical thinking and problem solving skills and sound judgment as part of routine daily work.
- Willingness to be flexible and work with the day’s teaching team to adapt plans to the ages, weather conditions, and other needs of the day.
- Willing to work in a setting with farm animals as well as native wildlife including insects, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds.
- Ability to engage in the physical requirements of this role, including being physically active for the majority of a scheduled work shift, safely navigating outdoor terrain that includes uneven and unpaved surfaces, sitting on the ground, carrying a backpack with teaching supplies, and teaching outside in weather conditions including heat, rain, cold, and snow.
- Ability and willingness to use email, text, google docs, and google calendar as part of daily work routines.
- Verifiable employment history that includes reliable attendance and timeliness
40 hours per week with specific scheduled to be determined. Regular weekend work may be required.
All team members have the job title of ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR, in either a TEACHER or ASSISTANT TEACHER role. This opening is for a full time Environmental Educator in a teacher role. For this school year the position is primarily assigned to the NatureYear forest school program. Staff schedules and program assignments may change and are set based on program need, staff skills, and conversation with staff members about their goals, interests, and preferences.
- Compensation for this position is in line with the Environmental Educator Pay Scale. Placement on the pay scale is determined by prior relevant work experience.
- Common Ground offers full time employees a competitive benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision and life insurance, 25 days of Paid Time off Per Year and 13 paid holidays
- Environmental Educators at Common Ground are represented by UAW local 2110 with a collective bargaining agreement in progress.
- Complete the online form HERE and email a resume and letter of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Application deadline: November 18, 2022 for first round consideration. Applications accepted until the position is filled.
Equal Opportunity Employer
Common Ground is particularly eager for candidates who can help us to fulfill our commitment to building a racially and culturally diverse faculty and staff. Common Ground has a commitment to examining the intersection of social, environmental, and food justice issues; how systems of oppression, including white privilege, impact the organization’s work; and how resistance to those systems can offer windows into a more sustainable society.
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, people whose native language is something other than English, 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