Job Title: Schoolyards 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.
The Schoolyards Program supports the creation and effective use of school gardens, schoolyard habitats, and outdoor classrooms in schools. We provide professional and technical support to help schools realize the full potential of teaching outside in deepening the academic and emotional learning of their students.
Schoolyards Teachers bring Common Ground’s outdoor education work to schools in the New Haven area, during the school day or afterschool. Schoolyards Teachers design their own curriculum based on the schoolyard space, the seasons, the needs of the school, and the interests of the children. They provide content-based learning about science, nature, and the environment as well as facilitate and create opportunities for adventure-based play. Schoolyards classes are conducted almost entirely outdoors in all weather, with indoor spaces used only in severe weather.
Schoolyards Teachers may be scheduled for four days per week of teaching and one day of program support OR five days of teaching. During a typical day, a Schoolyards Teacher will teach 5-6 classes of students in the schoolyard, ranging from pre-K through 8th grade. Topics/activities may include exploring leaves, investigating worms in a dig bed, planting flowers or vegetables, studying bird migration, repairing garden beds, building with loose parts, teambuilding activities, tasting produce from the garden, and more.
During the summer, we run a day camp, spending our days cooking, hiking, playing games, enjoying campfires, and creating magic for kids on Common Ground’s campus. Summer camp work is 5 days per week with campers, with some team members working in admin or hybrid admin/teaching roles.
This position requires exceptional behavior management skills, excellent judgment, adaptability, and the ability to balance traditional school requirements with outdoor education approaches. This position is ideal for someone with classroom teaching experience who enjoys the outdoors and is looking for a change. It is also perfect for an outdoor educator with experience doing their own lesson planning.
While this position prioritizes work in schools, it may also include work on Common Ground’s campus in our NatureYear and other outdoor education programs for children. During the summer, this position works in our summer camp.
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 schools, children, and our place over time. 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!
Applicants should review program information on our website, as Schoolyards is a unique teaching opportunity that is amazing for the right applicant and is different from many traditional environmental education programs.
This position is full time, 40 hours per week, on a 12-month schedule that includes both school year and summer programs. Part time positions may also become available.
School day hours are approximately 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, with additional paid time for planning.
- Experience planning and leading activities for groups of children ages 5 – 13 in a professional setting (school, preschool, nature center, etc).
- Demonstrated success in a leadership/head teacher role in both school and outdoor settings.
- Ability and desire to have significant autonomy and independent responsibility for planning lessons, planning and managing the flow of a day, and communicating with partnering schools and teachers. A strong, supportive team of people doing similar work is available for collaboration and ongoing professional development; the day-to-day work at schools is delivered independently, without a co-teacher from Common Ground.
- A passion for Common Ground’s mission and commitment to equity, diversity and environmental sustainability.
- Strong critical thinking and problem solving skills.
- Ability to work independently and be self-directed as well as to compromise, communicate, be flexible, and work closely with a staff team and school teachers and administrators.
- Commitment to working closely with a racially and economically diverse urban school community.
- Strong written and oral communication skills, with both children and adults.
- Comfort with working outdoors in all weather, including rain and snow.
- Commitment to child-centered teaching and behavior management, with the ability and desire to meet the needs of individual children.
- 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.
Apply by November 10, 2022 for first round consideration. Applications accepted until the position is filled.
Equal Opportunity Employment Statement
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.