Dec 07, 2022

Chief Academic Officer

  • On-Ramps
  • New York, NY, USA
Full-Time General Management Strategic Planning

Job Description


Explore Schools is a network of public charter schools providing 2,000 students in Brooklyn with the outstanding education they deserve. Their goal is to provide students with curriculum and instruction that is both standards-aligned and culturally responsive. Its approach is designed to provide the conditions that nurture students as critical thinkers and natural problem-solvers. As an organization, Explore is committed to engaging in work that disrupts and roots out systems and structures that perpetuate white supremacy. They intentionally seek to build and maintain an identity diverse and talented team that reflects the backgrounds and experiences of their students and creates an inclusive environment for all employees.

Explore Schools believes that all children can learn when immersed in a rich environment full of high expectations, rigorous academics, and caring, committed adults. The network believes equity and excellence are not mutually exclusive—they believe that it is possible to meet the needs of all students in their schools, while actively engaging parents and driving toward excellent academic results. They believe it is both their privilege and responsibility to help close the opportunity gap in the Brooklyn community.


Explore Schools seeks an experienced educational leader who demonstrates a drive toward excellence, representation, equity, and is passionate about serving all students. The Chief Academic Officer (CAO) should have deep CCSS-aligned content knowledge in K-8 math, Science, Social Studies or ELA, and experience making system-wide change at a district or network level aligned to the CCSS. The CAO should excel in relationship-building, motivating staff, and establishing a healthy culture of accountability and collaboration in work spaces. Explore Schools is looking for someone who is deeply committed to and has experience with culturally responsive pedagogy. The CAO is expected to be highly organized, detail-oriented, have excellent communication skills, and thrive in a collaborative, fast-paced work environment.

The Chief Academic Officer will serve as a critical support and thought partner to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Schools Officer (CSO) at Explore Schools. They will lead a team of 7-9 staff with a diverse range of instructional expertise and experience to ensure that schools receive outstanding curricular support from the network across grades K-8 and all core subject areas. They will manage the overall scope of work for the Program Team to ensure aligned systems, execution, and clear communication amongst teammates and to schools while rolling out network-wide initiatives. In this role, they will manage a rigorous portfolio that includes but is not limited to: leading Program Team meetings in service of the instructional vision, contributing to the strategic planning process as it relates to curricular-instructional decisions, robust data analysis and data-driven decision-making, and direct management of Program Team members. They will be expected to manage the following:

Vision-setting and innovation

  • Collaborate on and move forward the vision for curriculum and instruction at Explore Schools
  • Partner closely with the Chief Executive Officer to solidify planning across core content areas for the next 5 years
  • Diagnose and collaboratively work to address challenges around curriculum and instruction across grade bands and/or subject areas
  • Act as a key member of the network Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to weigh in on critical organization wide decisions, initiatives, and problem-solving

Team leadership

  • Lead and develop a Program Team of 7-9 staff members including collaborative team meetings that drive data-driven decision making and stronger, more aligned curricular products
  • Potentially directly supervise 1-2 Principals
  • Conduct performance evaluations of teammates and set and monitor progress toward growth goals aligned to the teamwide strategic priorities and benchmarks

Data-driven decision-making

  • Use data to drive strategic decision making and problem solving across content areas, grade-levels, and schools
  • Establish meaningful check-points/aligned opportunities for Program Team to gather and respond to data or feedback on the support they provide to school-based stakeholders
  • Collaborate with network operations team on collecting, analyzing, and supporting school-based leaders' response to student achievement data

Operationalizing Program Team systems and tools

  • Build and hold staff accountable to systems that increase organizational efficiency and promote scalability and alignment
  • Move the team toward quality assurance and alignment of resources provided to schools
  • Unify the messaging and tools used to ensure that they align to organizational vision for instruction
  • Bridge the gap between content areas for templates, tools, and structures
  • Lead the charge on creation of the annual academic planning calendar, assessment strategy, and programmatic professional development scope and sequence
  • Create processes and gather information that address immediate needs of organization or team and anticipate the future-facing needs

Cross-functional collaboration

  • Identify opportunities for streamlining systems across functions at ESI (Explore Schools Network Team)
  • Work closely with team of senior leaders to foster proactive communication about decisions that impact multiple internal constituents or teams
  • Evaluate materials for alignment to culturally responsive pedagogy/teaching practices and alignment to yearly foci and priorities

Professional development

  • Set and implement the vision for curriculum internalization and implementation, intellectual preparation and data driven planning
  • Support the Program Team in creating and facilitating effective, outcomes based teacher and school leader professional development during teacher pre-service, in-service days and leader PD days
  • Create and lead professional development for internal constituents including Principals, Secondary Leaders, and Program Team members

Hiring Organization

Explore Schools


  • Bachelor's degree required, Master's degree strongly preferred
  • 10-15 years of experience in the education sector preferred
  • Deep CCSS- aligned content knowledge in ELA & Social Studies or Math & Science K-8 experience required
  • Experience leading at the district or network level focus on curriculum and instruction and school leadership experience preferred
  • Experience with leading change management at a district or network level
  • Demonstrated track record of success aligned to student achievement on a systems level

Qualities the CAO will possess:

  • Dedication to the Explore Schools mission: a steadfast commitment to ensuring students have the tools they need to succeed in a college preparatory high school and beyond
  • Embodies their operating values and organizational beliefs and commitment to dismantling oppressive practices rooted in white supremacy, including an understanding of how race, power, and privilege manifest in the education space
  • Adept strategic systems-thinker and expert project manager
  • Self-aware leader and practitioner who engages in authentic and frequent self-reflection
  • Outstanding ability to build efficient processes to ensure institutional memory and cross-functional communication and collaboration
  • Applies an intersectional lens to leadership to ensure equity across services and supports provided to families, students, and staff
  • Enjoys setting ambitious goals and leading people to achieve them; able to act and react as necessary, even in unfamiliar situations; confidence to take on a challenge or take charge of a situation
  • Value and seek out diverse perspectives
  • Highly flexible: able to shift priorities, and take direction as needed and handles ambiguity well
  • Comfortable receiving and providing feedback from peers, supervisors, and direct reports
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Nimble team player and thought partner – able to take the lead and play a supporting role across various projects. Effective at building relationships and gaining buy-in from a diverse range of stakeholders
  • Self-starter: generates new ideas, and kicks off implementation with enthusiasm and a high level of organization

Location: Explore Schools is a network of 8 charter schools located in Canarsie, Crown Heights, and Flatbush communities of Brooklyn, NY. Their network office is located in DUMBO, Brooklyn. For this position:

  • Flexible work location with some in-person work is required. Depending on the time of year, this role may require traveling to different school sites or the central office for training, observations, and in-service days.
  • This is an exempt position and is not eligible for overtime.
  • The standard work week is 45 hours, though at times the role may require more hours. For non-exempt roles, employees are eligible for overtime for any work over 40 hours.
  • As this role requires being able to go into school buildings which are co-located in DOE buildings, all staff members are required to follow the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Please reach out to if you'd like to see a copy of the mandate.

Industry/Service Area





  • The salary range for incoming C-level staff is $190,000 to $230,000. This is their good faith range at the time of posting. Incoming salaries are determined based on experience and internal equity.
  • Because Explore values staff members staying in their roles over time, they do not currently cap salary ranges and this is the range for incoming staff members only. This is base salary and does not include additional compensation opportunities, such as signing bonuses, stipends, leadership opportunities, and additional pay for specialized certifications and advanced degrees.
  • Explore offers a comprehensive benefits plan, covering up to 95% of the cost for employees and their families. Other benefits include dental and vision plans, employer paid disability and life insurance, parental leave benefits, flexible spending account options, generous vacation time and paid holidays, professional development, continuing education scholarships, referral bonuses, employee assistance program (EAP), childcare assistance, a 403(b) retirement plan with employer matching, and more.

Additionally, as a member of the Explore Schools community, you can expect:

  • ESI Staff also have the opportunity to seek out and attend professional development, have a supervisor committed to their growth and development, and are eligible to apply to the staff scholarship program.
  • Flexible and reflective leadership: dedicated to staff development, team cohesion, and shared responsibility for decision-making, development, and team-wide priorities
  • Driven and passionate colleagues who contribute to a professional and collaborative work environment
  • Opportunities to sit on various committees and participate in initiatives central to key organizational decisions and strategic planning
  • Continued education support: staff are eligible to receive scholarship funds towards qualifying certification costs or higher education tuition

Application Instructions

Qualified Individuals, please apply:

As discussed in the About the Organization section, Explore Schools is an equal opportunity employer. It is important to them that all staff members have a place of employment that is free of discrimination of all kinds and where staff can bring their authentic selves to work. They do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, veteran, or military status. If any employee or applicant believes they have been discriminated against, they should let Rachel Modica-Russell ( or Tiffany Williams ( know immediately.

Like Explore Schools, On-Ramps is deeply committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We believe social change happens when people with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and identities come together with a common purpose.

On-Ramps is committed to the inclusion of all qualified individuals in the hiring process, including but not limited to those with disabilities. If you require reasonable accommodation(s) to participate in the application or interview process, please contact

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