The Buckley School seeks a Head of Upper School to lead a vibrant division of roughly 360 students in grades 9–12 and 50 faculty members. The oldest independent co-ed K–12 school in Los Angeles and one of the very few with all grades on one campus, Buckley is a nationally recognized college preparatory school with a bold mission, clear vision, and strong values. The position is slated to begin July 1, 2022.
The new Head of Upper School will be an important partner in a dynamic senior leadership team led by Head of School Alona Scott and Assistant Head of School Lolli Lucas. With Ms. Scott’s proven leadership and commitment to DEI and anti-racism, Buckley will continue as one of the premier K–12 institutions in the country. During the 2020–21 school year, building upon Dr. Buckley’s the Four-Fold Plan (her founding philosophy that balances Academics, Athletics, the Arts and Moral Development), Ms. Scott led the school in an inclusive and iterative process to develop its Portrait of a Graduate, which is now driving the development of a strategic plan focused on three arenas: advancing academic excellence through innovative programs; promoting health and wellness; and investing in community. The new Head of Upper School will partner with the other division heads to bring the Portrait of a Graduate and strategic plan to life. These central leadership team members support a committed and passionate faculty who at once hold dear the best of the School’s traditions and stay at the forefront of innovation.
The Buckley School was founded in 1933 by Isabelle Buckley. Dr. Buckley developed the 4-Fold Plan of Education with equal emphasis on Academics, the Arts, Athletics, and Moral Education. These four pillars remain the foundation of our school and are continually updated to reflect current research in teaching, brain science, diversity, and a globalized world.
Strategic Priorities/ opportunities
Evolving Curricula and Instruction: Utilize recent research in neuroscience, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and DEI to evaluate programs and practices, with an eye for ensuring every student develops the attributes and skills articulated in the Portrait of a Graduate. Support the review of the AP program, the creation of integrated and transdisciplinary courses, and the development of a new K–12 daily schedule.
Advancing Buckley’s DEI commitment: Actively partner with the DEI team to embed equity, inclusion, and anti-racism as guided by Living Our Mission: Anti-Racist Programs and Practices into all aspects of the Buckley experience including curriculum and instruction, systems, structures and policies, and the overall experience on campus. Recruiting and retaining students/families and faculty/staff of color remains an important priority for the School.
Promoting SEL and Mental Health: Attend to the challenges and pressures facing adolescents as a result of coming of age during a pandemic and period of racial reckoning. Utilize recent research about the importance of social-emotional skill development to build even greater capacity among faculty to provide systematic support across programs and individual interactions. Provide similar education to families to help them navigate and support their teen.
Supporting and Developing a Diverse Faculty: Strengthen the support systems and professional development program to continue offering both Buckley faculty and non-instructional staff opportunities to grow and remain leaders in the field.
Building Strong Relationships Among the Faculty, Staff, and Parents: Foster trust, rapport, transparency, and collegiality in service of the students.
Being a Visible, Active, and Engaged Presence in the Life of the School
The Buckley Commitment
The Buckley Commitment was created by students in 1995 to guide the community in school-wide standards of behavior. These values are carved into the cement steps of the Commitment Courtyard and posted around campus. Students, families, faculty, staff, and the Board of Trustees commit to: Honesty, Loyalty, Respect, Kindness, Self-Reliance, and Self-Discipline.
The next Head of Upper School will be a curriculum and instructional leader, who, in partnership with the Head, Assistant Head, and Lower School and Middle School Heads, can implement a new strategic plan that brings to life Buckley’s fresh and bold educational vision, the Portrait of a Graduate: Architect of the Future. The plan and the portrait preserve Buckley’s key values and best traditions, while embracing innovative programs and practices that prepare students to problem-solve complex issues in their future.
The Head of Upper School is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the division, including its academic and advisory programs, student policies, athletics, arts performances and activities, service learning and outdoor education, and other co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and programs, as well as hiring and supporting a diverse staff. This leadership and oversight must create a culture that fulfills the school’s mission, embodies the school’s Portrait of a Graduate and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and exemplifies the Buckley Commitment.
The Head of Upper School is expected to model lifelong learning by staying abreast of research, advances and trends in educational programs and practices, and to use this knowledge to inform the ongoing evolution of curriculum, instruction, and community activities, ensuring K–12 alignment. In partnership with the Assistant Head of School, Director of Innovative Teaching and Learning, and department chairs, the Head of Upper School will design professional development opportunities.
In addition, the Head of Upper School will:
Oversee the Director of College Counseling and all related programming, including academic advising and pertinent standardized testing; the UC and NCAA course approval processes; the College Board AP Audit; and the National Merit Scholarship program
Establish yearly and summer course offerings approved through the curriculum committee and disseminate information to the community
Maintain the Upper School budget in conjunction with the Middle School Head
Serve as one of the Upper School academic deans to students in grades 9 and 10
Oversee the design of the Upper School schedule and maintain Upper School calendar
Assist with the coordination of the commencement ceremony in conjunction with senior class advisors, Assistant to the Division Heads, and the Advancement and Facilities Departments
Serve on the admission committee and assist in the admission process for the testing, interviewing, and evaluating of applicants for enrollment
Teach one class, or serve as an advisor, as determined by the Head of School
qualities of the next head of upper school
The Head of Upper School must be an experienced administrator, with a successful history of building a warm and supportive culture as well as inspiring students and faculty to practice a growth mindset, lead with empathy, and make an impact in the world.
As Buckley continues to strive towards its aspirations for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive school, the Head of Upper School must be an experienced DEI champion and leader of institutional evolution. The Head of Upper School will partner with the DEI team, recruiting and retaining diverse students and faculty and curating professional development opportunities to increase institutional capacity in DEI and SEL.
As the leader of this important division, the Head of Upper School must be able to model empathy, integrity, collaboration, positivity, a sense of humor, and the ability to receive and apply feedback. Fostering uplifting and trusting relationships with students, teachers, and parents to promote an atmosphere of constructive support will be critical to helping students navigate what can often be a stressful time in their lives.
The culture at Buckley is one that values hard work, clear and direct communication, a willingness to wrestle with difficult topics with colleagues and students, transparency in leadership and decision-making, and advocacy for the students and professionals in the school. The successful candidate will exhibit genuine warmth, confidence, humility, curiosity and lifelong learning, a willingness to listen, critical thinking, and problem solving.
Education, Experience, and skills
Master’s Degree required
A minimum of five years of independent school teaching experience preferred
Prior experience as an instructional coach, dean, assistant, or division head preferred
Experience supervising and evaluating teachers (and ideally administrators)
Proficiency with Google Suite and Microsoft Office, and an interest in staying abreast of new devices and applications to support teaching and learning
The Buckley School is a dynamic, nurturing learning community committed to equity and inclusion. Our innovative teachers and challenging programs inspire creativity, courage, and collaboration. By promoting a balanced development of mind, body, and character, we encourage each student to find joy and meaning in life and make an impact in the world.
Buckley was founded in 1933 by Isabelle Buckley, who developed the 4-Fold Plan of Education: equal emphasis on Academics, the Arts, Athletics, and Moral Education. These four pillars remain the foundation of the school and are continually updated to reflect current research in teaching, brain science, diversity, and a globalized world.
Academic and Co-curricular Programs
Buckley’s Upper School curriculum does more than prepare students for success at the college level; it helps them develop into independent, creative thinkers who will positively influence the world around them. The Upper School maintains a rigorous college preparatory education grounded in collaboration, cultural competency, and character education. The school provides an intentionally small, supportive, and diverse learning environment. Through the Applied Science program, students work on year-long independent research projects with real-world applications, often applying for and receiving patents for their work. Upper School Writing Fellows receive formal training in peer mentoring, tutoring, and in helping their younger classmates find their voices through their own writing. Students in Diversity Club guide the Upper School in regular conversation and help plan assemblies and the school’s Social Justice Symposia. Every ninth grader is required to take Intersections of Identity, a semester-long course in which students learn about identity markers, socio-economic differences, and the on-going gentrification of the city in which they live. Buckley is a member of One Schoolhouse, a consortium of independent schools through which students may enroll in online courses.
A rigorous curriculum ensures that every student acquires the knowledge that the school’s expert faculty considers crucial to a comprehensive liberal arts education and college preparation. In addition, students compete on high school athletic teams or participate in physical education classes each trimester until the final term of their senior year; they take a minimum of two visual or performing arts classes; and they participate in ethical education programs through advisory sessions, speaker series, and student-led sketches and discussions.
The school culture encourages the pursuit of new ideas and personal goals. Students who reach beyond their requirements and tackle additional academic challenges — whether through electives or AP courses — are the norm, not the exception.
At Buckley, there is no “typical” Buckley student. There is a close-knit, family atmosphere at the school that permeates this small community, where students can explore different interests and are challenged to try new things in a safe environment.
Buckley’s Middle School values and nurtures creative self-expression and problem-solving, through both traditional pedagogy and student-centered experiential learning opportunities. Social-emotional growth is valued as much as academic development; skills as much as content. Student choice and agency guide much of the Middle School’s programs and curricula. Children are pushed to direct their own learning, hold themselves accountable, and understand how good it feels to try hard at something you love.
Buckley’s program blends tradition and structure with a developmental methodology that engages students in active learning and allows teachers to address differences in student learning styles. The school places a heavy emphasis on the development of compassionate children. Across all grades, students are immersed in a rich program of traditional academic classes as well as weekly specialized classes, including computer science, dance, theater, visual arts, music, and physical education. The school believes that physical education and arts education are among the core components of academic success.
There is widespread, deep respect for faculty and what they do. They are regarded as passionate, dedicated professionals. Faculty see a major benefit of working at Buckley in that they have the resources to accomplish what they want — Buckley is a place where the “sky is the limit.” Buckley has cultivated a culture where teachers continually seek to better themselves. Faculty and staff are “all in,” and administrators can teach a class, or have an advisory — in other words, those who do not have a teaching role can still be, and find ways to be, connected to kids. Presence is a highly valued virtue in the Buckley community.
The students at Buckley represent the many different neighborhoods and communities of Los Angeles. Buckley students are academically curious, joyful learners and appreciate the well-rounded education that the school offers.
The Buckley Community is an inclusive and warm community. There is a perceptible connectedness among this small community where relationships are cherished. Mutual respect is a hallmark of the Buckley community, one that encourages voice in a safe environment.
Set in a quiet canyon on the perimeter of Fossil Ridge Park, Buckley offers students a peaceful, safe environment where they are free to focus on learning. After several years of school-wide improvements, the school offers an ideal balance between state-of-the-art education and tranquil, natural splendor. The complete renovation of the Quinn Martin Building in Fall 2017 provides updated spaces for athletics and the visual arts. The visual arts floor includes an entire suite of classrooms dedicated to photography, painting, 3D art, and digital media. They are equipped with a full panoply of technology and materials to provide hands-on learning experiences for students. The strength and conditioning center supports student athletes in physical education classes and on teams, as well as faculty and staff who wish to use the facilities.
Between 2012 and 2016, the campus master plan led to the construction of three new buildings to support academics, including specialized science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classrooms, as well as the performing arts, including dance and music rehearsal spaces, a black-box theater, and a state-of-the-art performance and community gathering space. The master planning process also created dedicated space for the Office of DEI right in the heart of campus. Additional improvements included a renovated and fully modernized Middle and Upper School library and administrative offices, renovated classrooms, including the addition of a world languages lab, and renovated college counseling, admission, and Lower School administrative offices. Newly renovated studio art facilities, with video production studio and screening room, complete darkroom, and electric ceramic kilns enhance the School’s arts programs. In January 2022, the school opened a new K–12 Media and Technology Lab which is quickly becoming a center of campus life.
Los Angeles is the most populous city in California and the second-most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of the West Coast. Nicknamed the “City of Angels” partly because of its name’s Spanish meaning, Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and sprawling metropolis.
Procedure to apply
March 23, 2022
Early April, 2022
Late April/Early May, 2022
*Approximate dates subject to change
The Buckley School values and supports diversity in the workplace and in the classroom, and thus encourage interested candidates should submit the following materials confidentially as a single PDF file:
Cover letter expressing interest in the Buckley position
Statement of educational philosophy and practice
Three to five references, identifying your relationship to them and including phone and email (candidate will be notified before references are contacted)
A writing sample that reflects your voice in your school community (can be an existing or past correspondence).
Please direct any questions via email to email@example.com or by phone at 415-881-7105.