Principal Fellow

  • Newark, NJ, USA
  • Full-time
  • Hiring Start Time: July 2019 Start

Company Description

Uncommon Schools is a non-profit network of 53 outstanding public charter schools in grades K-12 across New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Our mission is to start and manage outstanding urban public charter schools that close the achievement gap and prepare students from low-income backgrounds for success in college and beyond. We are accomplishing that mission every day, with a college graduation rate that is well above the national average and thousands of stories of our students and alumni achieving their dreams.

Job Description

Principal Fellow
(known internally at Uncommon as Instructional Fellow) 

General Summary
To make more elementary, middle, and high schools, we need future principals to commit themselves to the most urgent and exciting work of our time. It takes principals who can inspire students, who put excellence ahead of easy, and who project urgency about closing the achievement gap. It takes principals who are fearless about making decisions and conducting difficult conversations and who can build a highly collaborative team and shape a vibrant culture. These principals cultivate learning communities that are simultaneously academically rigorous and joyful. They know that their job is the most important one in the world. Self-reflective and humble, they are open to feedback and committed to continuously improving.

Uncommon Schools is offering a fellowship to prepare fellows to open a new Uncommon school or sustain an existing school as Principal. The length of the fellowship is typically one to two years and depends on the fellows’ readiness and the availability of a Principal position.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
The Principal fellowship provides a robust development process to prepare Principal Fellows to lead a school in conjunction with the Director of Operations. This Fellow and eventual Principal is a full-time employee, hired, supported, and, evaluated by the Assistant Superintendent. The Principal Fellow must have a Bachelor’s degree and a minimum of four years of teaching experience and at least 1 year of experience leading or coaching teachers.

Prepare for Success
Leaders are born, sure. But those who become great principals do so through hard work and deep learning. At Uncommon Schools, we make that learning possible through a year-long principal fellowship.  The Principal Fellowship year is based on a foundation of six core elements that are aligned to the competencies of Uncommon Principals. Each element is designed to build a Fellows’ capacity towards becoming effective principals.  These include the following:

  • Evaluation and Feedback;
  • Fellowship Deliverables and Immersion;
  • Professional Development;
  • Reading and Discussion Groups;
  • School Startup Preparation; and
  • School Visits.

Evaluation and Feedback
Throughout the principal fellowship year, Fellows will receive coaching and feedback from their Assistant Superintendent in addition to the school leaders they are working closely with during their fellowship year. Each Principal Fellow will have an Individual Development Plan that identifies the specific areas of development for the Fellow around which the fellowship will be customized to ensure focused development opportunities.

Fellowship Deliverables and School Guidelines
During the fall of their fellowship year, Principal Fellows will be placed at an existing Uncommon school to observe and learn in the environment of a successful school. While in this residency, the Principal Fellow will be involved in teaching across subject and grade levels, observing and providing feedback to teachers, and completing special projects for the school. In addition, Principal Fellows will be responsible for completing a variety of pre-determined deliverables.
Professional Development
Ideally, Principal Fellows start in June to prepare to open their schools in the following summer.  Throughout their fellowship, they will engage in professional development focusing on two domains: Cultural Leadership and Management, and Instructional Leadership. Each professional development session will be led by our experienced group of Assistant Superintendents, current leaders, and a select group of external partners.

Cultural Leadership and Management:

  • Connecting with and Leading Teachers
  • Difficult Conversations
  • Managing Teams and Groups
  • Personal Effectiveness
  • Student Recruitment
  • Teacher Recruitment
  • Understanding Yourself as a Principal
  • Family Engagement
  • Community Engagement
  • Whole-school Moments
  • Celebrating Student and Staff Successes

Instructional Leadership:

  • Curriculum Alignment and Yearlong Planning
  • Data-Driven Instruction
  • Driving Student Achievement in Special Education
  • Observation and Feedback
  • Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices
  • Teaching Math
  • Teaching History
  • Teaching Reading
  • Teaching Science



  • Demonstrate a relentless drive to improve the minds, characters, and lives of students both in and out of school;
  • Demonstrate a strong record of driving exceptional student results;
  • Demonstrate strong data analysis skills;
  • Have the ability to provide high leverage feedback to teachers via classroom observations;
  • Demonstrate grit and personal responsibility;
  • Demonstrate high quality communications skills with multiple stakeholders including teachers, students, families, and colleagues;
  • Able to have difficult conversations in a respectful manner;
  • Committed to continual professional growth;
  • Demonstrate strong organizational skills, extremely careful attention to detail and follow-through
  • Minimum Education Level
    • The Principal Fellow must have a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Experience Required
    • 4 or more years of teaching experience highly preferred;
  • 1 or more years of experience coaching or leading teachers (e.g., grade level chair, content/department chair, Assistant Principal, Dean of Curriculum, etc.) highly preferred.

Additional Information

Uncommon Schools offers competitive salaries commensurate with experience and a comprehensive benefits package.  Aside from extensive professional development, all our staff members are equipped with a laptop computer, email, and all necessary supplies.

Uncommon believes in the importance of being a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization that enables our students and staff to thrive. We are committed to building a talented team that reflects the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our students. At the same time, we work to ensure an inclusive community through creating a space for important dialogue about issues of race and identity for our staff and students.  As an equal opportunity employer, we hire without consideration to race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status or disability.

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