Mary McDowell Friends School (MMFS), a Quaker, coeducational, K–12 college preparatory program dedicated to the success of students with learning disabilities located in Brooklyn, NY, seeks a collaborative, engaging, and student-centered Assistant Director of Lower School.
The Assistant Director will join a dynamic team of lower school leaders and educators devoted to students with learning disabilities. An important member of the senior leadership team, the Assistant Director will be instrumental in helping MMFS realize its goal of becoming an anti-racist school and ensuring that all MMFS students thrive as part of the school community. Through culturally responsive leadership, the Assistant Director builds inclusivity, creates equitable access, and supports neurodivergent learners.
The Assistant Director of Lower School works in partnership with the Director of Lower School and other MMFS administrators to oversee the daily social, emotional, and academic well-being of students as well as support a diverse staff. The Assistant Director maintains an open and collaborative relationship with the Lower School administrative team and works to maintain congruence between the school’s mission and the Lower School programs. As part of the leadership team, this position is critical in helping to develop a culture that provides opportunities for students and faculty, families, and community members to grow and learn. The Assistant Director will help lead the school’s diversity and equity initiatives. By examining identity, equity, and privilege in their own practice, the position will serve as a model and help sustain a school culture where all social identities feel welcomed.
Strategic priorities/ opportunities for the assistant director of the lower school
Providing supervision and coaching to a diverse, talented, and dedicated faculty
Supporting faculty on curriculum development, as well as scope and sequence
Evaluating and innovating systems and structures to accommodate the division’s development
Growing the division’s programs including affinity groups, service-learning and community engagement, social-emotional learning, study skills and executive function programming, and others to enhance the student experience
Providing leadership along with other school leaders around the school’s anti-racism work within the division to ensure that there is a supportive and welcoming environment for all students to experience a true sense of belonging and support the school’s mission and commitment to becoming an anti-racist school
Work closely with other administrators, counselors, and faculty to oversee the social, emotional, and educational well-being of students within the division
Collaborate with the Lower School administrative team in the oversight of student discipline
Communicate with outside therapists/tutors/ providers in both a proactive and as-needed manner
Assist the Director of Lower School with the placement of students into classes as well as reading and math groups
Teach one class
Work in collaboration with the Lower School administrative team to execute the daily program
Provide direct supervision and evaluation of division faculty (determined based on organizational model of the Lower School). Faculty may include teachers, counselors, therapists, and administrative support staff
Work with the Director of Lower School to plan, coordinate, and execute professional development activities for division faculty
Collaborate with the Director of Lower School to conduct faculty meetings
Collect packets for substitutes and distribute when necessary
Contact substitute teachers when needed
Support the Director of Lower School in the selection, hiring, and orientation of new faculty to the division
Engage in timely family communication in both a proactive and as-needed manner
Participate in parent programs about student life, academics, and other concerns
Participate in Parent/Teacher conferences when needed
Work with the Director of Lower School to create the schedule
Organize and conduct reading and math assessments throughout the year
Coordinate and clerk division-wide and grade level curriculum meetings
Execute the schedule for Lower School events such as Fall field day, Halloween, clubs/workshops, healthy choice programs, Spirit Week, and the 100th day of school
Create additional schedules for yard/roof, lunch, individual classrooms, Silent Meetings, etc
Coordinate, attend, and oversee the three-day overnight programs
Assist with the planning of the yearly standardized test assessments for 4th and 5th graders
Participate in a weekly meeting with the Director of Lower School and Counseling staff
Meet with the Director of Lower School and the Counseling staff for team meetings with classroom teachers
Partner with the Director of Lower School to review student reports written by faculty at the end of each semester
Communicate building needs to COO
Communicate tech needs to Tech staff
Work with faculty and staff to maintain the appearance of classrooms, buildings, and outdoor space
Grounded in the Quaker values of equality, integrity and social responsibility, the school cultivates a diverse and anti-racist community in which all students can reach their full potential. Their specialized teaching methodologies and challenging curricula empower students to become academic achievers, creative thinkers, advocates for equity, and contributing members of a global society.
Qualities of the next assistant director of lower school
The next Assistant Director of Lower School must relish the joys and challenges of working with younger students with learning disabilities. A deep appreciation and passion for education will be conveyed by a solid understanding of educational practice and philosophy and the ability to share the school’s philosophy and practice with prospective families.
The Assistant Director of Lower School will have a successful history of building a warm and supportive culture as well as inspiring students and faculty to practice a growth mindset. This individual will also be someone who can lead with empathy and wants to make an impact in the world. A sense of humor, optimism, humility, empathy, excellent emotional intelligence, and extraordinary interpersonal skills are essential qualities for helping the divisions thrive.
As MMFS strives to become an anti-racist school, the Assistant Director of Lower School must be an experienced DEI champion and leader of institutional evolution. This individual will partner with the division leaders and the Director of Diversity and Equity to recruit and retain a diverse student body and faculty and to identify professional development opportunities to increase institutional capacity in DEI. In addition, the next Assistant Director must have superb organizational and administrative skills in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the division. This leader will be an excellent communicator and exhibit warmth, approachability, flexibility, and a sense of humor.
Learning: Students with learning disabilities can learn and thrive within a supportive environment coupled with skilled differentiated instruction. MMFS prepares students for college and life.
Quaker Values: MMFS is guided by the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: MMFS embraces a broad definition of diversity and recognizes the power and value it delivers to everyone’s lives. The school strives to provide an equitable and safe environment for the entire community.
Anti-racism: Anti-racism is key to the mission and curriculum of MMFS, as the school challenges its members to dismantle systemic racism in the community and the world around us.
Excellence: MMFS pursues excellence at every level.
Education, experience, and skills
Candidates must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution and experience working with students with learning disabilities. Candidates should also be able to demonstrate excellent professional and personal judgment, discretion, strong communication skills, and attention to details. In addition, candidates must possess the ﬂexibility to manage multiple and, at times, competing priorities, as well as the ability to be a team player who will be held accountable for the overall quality of the program. Lastly, the next Assistant Director of Lower School must have demonstrated success in current diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and the humility to pursue ongoing growth in this area.
Mary McDowell Friends School is a K–12 college preparatory program dedicated to the success of students with learning disabilities. Grounded in the Quaker values of equality, integrity, and social responsibility, the school cultivates a diverse and anti-racist community in which all students can reach their full potential. Their specialized teaching methodologies and challenging curricula empower students to become academic achievers, creative thinkers, advocates for equity, and contributing members of a global society.
Established in 1984 with a class of five students as the Mary McDowell Center for Learning at the Brooklyn Meeting House, the school now occupies three campuses for its lower, middle and upper schools, serving more than 400 students. Students come to MMFS with their own skills, talents, and abilities. Through differentiated instruction, the commitment of our highly skilled teachers and support staff, and the rigorous academics offered, their students succeed in school.
At MMFS every learner shines. The school supports their students to grow and to find their innate gifts and “inner light.” The faculty and staff provide students with opportunities to reach their full potential by understanding how they learn, drawing on their strengths, and encouraging them to meet their challenges. The students work hard at academics, the arts, and athletics so their many talents can emerge.
When families start at MMFS, they often ask, “Can my child gain the skills needed for college?” Even parents of the very youngest children ask this question. The answer is yes! When children attend MMFS, they are welcomed into a brighter future. From the youngest students through 12th graders, they come to understand how they learn best, how to self-advocate, and how to challenge themselves.
The school equips students with the tools they need to thrive. MMFS graduates succeed at some of the nation’s top colleges and universities. Others forge fulfilling career paths through hands-on programs that provide important life skills. The MMFS experience empowers students to take an active role in learning at every level—elementary, middle, and high school, college and beyond. Students build a foundation at MMFS that will support them long after they have graduated.
The Lower School
The Lower School at MMFS, which consists of kindergarten through fifth grade, encourages students to be independent learners, critical thinkers, and problem solvers. Faculty support students in their academic journeys with structured, multisensory curricula, differentiated instruction, small class sizes, and an engaging approach to learning. This approach empowers students to be their own best advocates at school and beyond.
Classes are led by a head teacher and an associate teacher who use language modifications and a multisensory, hands-on approach to teaching. Students become comfortable making the transition from their classrooms to small-group instruction for reading and math, where they are grouped according to their abilities and learning styles. Students also receive instruction in disciplines including writing, science, social studies, art, library, music, social-emotional learning, current events, handwriting, and physical education. In addition, the youngest students have a Block Building period, and the oldest students take Spanish.
The Lower School building in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn features spacious, light-filled classrooms equipped with resources including interactive and assistive technologies to support students with a wide range of learning needs. On any given day, students can be found solving math problems on interactive white boards, building electrical circuits in science class, reading a biography of Jackie Robinson, singing in harmony, or creating clay animals. Students also have the opportunity for play time in safe outdoor spaces including a play space on the roof.
Students gather regularly for activities with other classes; they especially enjoy all-school gatherings with their buddy classes in the middle or upper schools. The Lower School students and teachers sit together for Silent Meetings twice a week, where students reflect on a query and express their thoughts if they so choose. Students are enthusiastic participants in community service projects and school-wide drives and fundraisers for service organizations.
New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS)
National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
Friends Council on Education (FCE)
Independent School Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY)
Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools (ATLIS)
Located in Northwestern Brooklyn, MMFS occupies campuses in the Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens neighborhoods. Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City and boasts a diverse array of historic neighborhoods and landmarks. Brooklyn has a rich arts, music, and food scene. Its parks and open spaces make it family- and recreation-friendly.
Procedure to apply
Priority Application Due Date
Late February, 2022
Early March, 2022
Mid March, 2022
Mid March, 2022
*Approximate dates subject to change
Employment at Mary McDowell Friends School is based solely on qualifications and competence for a particular position, without regard to race, color, ethnic origin, nationality, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, disability, familial status, or any other category protected by the law. Mary McDowell Friends School’s policy of non-discrimination extends to all employment practices including but not limited to hiring, transfer, promotion, training, compensation, benefits, layoffs, and termination.
Interested candidates must submit the following materials confidentially confidentially as one PDF file through the dedicated application portal:
Cover letter expressing interest in the Mary McDowell Friends School Assistant Director of Lower School position
Statement of educational philosophy and practice that expresses who you are and how you connect to this work (no more than 2 pages)
List of three references including name, title, phone number, email address and professional relationship (references are contacted only with the candidate’s permission)
Please address any questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 415-881-7105.