Learn about Ascend's school leadership structure, and apply to join our growing team of leaders.
Our approach to school leadership
Leading at Ascend means growing deeply in your career, developing others, and playing a defining role in the future of your students.
Together, school directors, deans of instruction, deans of students, deans of student services, and directors of operations mold their schools into vibrant learning communities where teachers are supported to grow and thrive, where students are curious and engaged, where expectations are high, and where joy is abundant. Ascend school leaders are dynamic, visionary individuals who collaborate with each other and with their teams to create a warm and exhilarating intellectual environment for students.
Ascend dedicates substantial resources to ensuring that directors and deans have the skills and expertise they need to become highly effective instructional, cultural, and organizational leaders. Through extensive professional development, individualized coaching, and collaborative meetings with teachers and fellow leaders, school leaders feel valued and supported as they establish, grow, and maintain strong Ascend schools.
Apply now to join our team as a school leader.
From the Ascend blog: Love beats fear in school culture
At Ascend, a culture of love and high expectations is transformational. In her blog piece, Marsha Gadsden—managing director of upper schools and former school director at Brooklyn Ascend Middle School—writes about Ascend’s commitment to fostering agency in all our students.
Read more about leadership roles at Ascend schools.
School directors oversee a school’s leadership team, ensuring the school is an academic, cultural, and operational success. We seek leaders who are passionate about achieving their schools’ goals, who develop enduring relationships with students, teachers, parents, community members, and other stakeholders, and who build and maintain a strong presence for the school in the community. School directors are experienced educators with proven track records of elevating student achievement.
Ascend deans, all reporting to the school director, work together to ensure that all teachers and students have the conditions, resources, and support they need to excel academically and thrive in a joyful learning environment.
Deans of instruction are passionate about both curriculum and coaching and are excited to spend their time discussing, preparing, and immersing themselves in content and professional development. Deans of instruction inspire teachers to excel in their jobs and to motivate students to achieve their highest potentials. They provide instructional and administrative leadership to teachers across a particular grade band or in a particular subject area, oversee the implementation of the curriculum, monitor students’ academic performance, and reinforce the school’s culture of joyful, engaged learning.
Deans of students are passionate about school culture and academic success. They are responsible for shaping and sustaining the school’s distinctive culture and are essential to supporting the school’s highly ambitious academic expectations. Deans of students provide cultural leadership to the teaching staff and oversee the implementation of school-wide systems and procedures, and critical elements of Ascend’s Responsive Classroom program, including morning meeting in the lower schools and advisory in the upper schools.
Deans of student services ensure that Ascend schools live their mission of educating all students. Deans of student services support and manage the school’s academic, emotional, and physical services for students who require additional support so students thrive within the schools’ core academic programs. Deans of student services supervise and coach special education teachers, work directly with students with special needs in various push-in and pull-out educational settings, and manage special education compliance and records.
Director of operations
Directors of operations create the conditions for students to succeed by overseeing all non-academic operations, compliance, and procedures at the school. Directors of operations lead all non-academic operations at the school and ensure compliance with the school’s charter and with all laws and regulations. The director supervises all non-academic staff at the school, and is responsible for the school’s budget, accounting, and financial reporting; enrollment and student records; human resources, payroll, and credential management; meals programs and receipts; the physical plant; nursing services; information technology; procurement; security and school safety programs; regulatory compliance; and relationships with external compliance organizations.
Ascend's Resident School Director program
Ascend’s Resident School Director program provides an unrivaled opportunity for educators and visionary leaders to play a key role in growing and shaping the future of an Ascend school while receiving the training and support they will need to one day lead their own schools to academic success.
A resident school directors is placed at a successful Ascend school as a dean of instruction or dean of students and mentored by a managing director assigned to that school, by the school’s director, and by Ascend staff. In addition to the mentorship they receive from their host director, resident school directors participate in hands-on, collaborative monthly Saturday trainings where they are exposed to and trained on a wide range of school director responsibilities, and work on an individualized stretch project aligned to their growth area. Ultimately, residents are encouraged to interview for open school director positions at new or existing Ascend schools.
External candidates and existing leaders in the Ascend network are encouraged to apply. Apply to become an Ascend resident school director.
Each July, our Summer Institutes for new and returning leaders build the instructional management and coaching skills of all Ascend school leadership team members. Supported by the network’s academic and curriculum teams, these highly dynamic, expertly led sessions prepare leadership teams to launch a successful school year—and reach new heights of student achievement.
During the year, robust professional development from network staff continues to inform and develop leaders in best practices.
School directors are supervised and coached by a managing director of schools—a network staff member who supports a cluster of Ascend schools and offers the school extensive support in every area of academic and operational work and the chief schools officer—and participate in regular professional development sessions alongside their deans led by the network’s curriculum and instruction team and the managing director of leader development. Directors and managing directors hold regular meetings to check in on progress toward school-wide goals, problem-solve, and plan for upcoming projects, initiatives, and possible challenges.
Resident school directors often participate in meetings and professional development sessions alongside their host school directors and deans. Individualized professional development plans are created for each resident school director by the school director and in consultation with the managing director of schools and with the managing director of leadership development.
Deans gather regularly—at least once per month—for professional development sessions led by the network staff. Dean of instruction sessions with the curriculum and instruction team focus on improving deans’ coaching and instructional leadership skill and addressing specific components of the Ascend curriculum. Deans of students work with Ascend’s managing director of leadership development to improve coaching and leadership skills and cover specific aspects of Ascend’s Responsive Classroom cultural practices. Deans of student services collaborate closely with each other and with Ascend’s director of student services.
In addition to specialized operations training provided by network leaders during Ascend’s Summer Institute, directors of operations participate in regular collaborative training and planning sessions throughout the year with all Ascend directors of operations, led by Ascend’s network operations team. Each director of operations works closely with a network director of operations, who oversees a portfolio of Ascend schools and provides the director with extensive support and coaching throughout the year.