What to Expect As a Member of the Cardinal Academy Team and School Culture

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An opportunity to be a founding teacher or staff member-Very few people in the world ever get this opportunity – this chance to start from scratch and create something magical from the ground up.

Firm focus on students’  achievement, resilience & well-being, and parenthood. Every decision that is made at this school will be made based on what is best for students. Our school priorities, goals, and professional development were all created with one thing in mind – student achievement, student well-being, and parenthood.

Prioritized professional development. Professional development and continuous scholarly learning to become better educators is a high priority of Cardinal Academy. In addition to professional development regarding pedagogy, all faculty and staff will participate in learning around cultural sensitivity, trauma informed/trauma sensitive schools, and restorative practices. Teachers will attend a week-long professional development prior to the start of each school year, and 7 early release days during the school year at the school. 

Feedback, mentoring, and coaching. Teachers will receive regular feedback from the Director of Academics on pedagogy, social-emotional school culture and restorative practices in the classroom and throughout the school building. Our goal is to continuously improve, and there will be substantial support to help you with that. There will be a mix between research-based, mandated curricula and homegrown creativity, planning, and implementation. Teachers should expect to share and discuss lessons with the DOA each week.

Reflection. You will constantly have informal and formal opportunities to reflect and give feedback on yourself and the team. Our goal is to continuously improve our performance. Things will change because of the feedback that you give. We probably will not agree on everything, but we expect everyone to buy into and own group decisions, even if we originally expressed disagreement.

Approachable leadership team and solutionary people. The leadership team at Cardinal Academy, Emily Bergstrom and Deb Hedden-Nicely, consider it their job to assist you to be more effective. They will do everything in their power to support you. In return, they expect you to be “solutionary,” that is, for every problem you have, you go to the leadership team with three potential solutions.

Community. Cardinal Academy will continually strive to be a place of safety, caring, compassion, and community, where we practice restorative methods for both students and staff and live out the school’s core values everyday, and where we are free to try new things, make mistakes, and adapt. The expectation is that teachers and other staff will model to one another and to the students, kindness, honesty, respect, and hard work. We will build a culture of team and family. You will work with colleagues with passion and skill. Your team and family will advise and counsel you in an environment that will enable you to be the best you can be.

Commitment. Cardinal Academy is a place where the entire team must be committed and passionate about the comprehensive education of our students. We expect that our faculty and staff will take extra care, preparation, and time to contribute to the excellence of the school culture. This means putting in the effort and the time that may not be “on-the-clock.” We are a smaller school and all staff are expected to contribute to the school culture in other capacities than teaching in their classrooms.

Cardinal Academy will use a school-wide behavior management system –  Restorative Practices. Having consistent implementation of our school-wide culture systems is one of our school’s priorities. We know that restorative practices can have a huge impact on student academic achievement, resilience and social-emotional well-being. We believe that academics and social-emotional learning are inextricably integrated. 

Flexibility! Expect to be flexible! A start up school is going to have unexpected circumstances. We will need to make adjustments and possibly changes. Expect an incredibly fast turn-around on changes.

Remote learning. Preparing all unit assignments digitally is essential and expected at Cardinal Academy. With Layered Curriculum, our instructional model, content units can be fully digital and shared for use in the classroom for whole-class or individual lessons, or at home during maternity leave, when a student or her/his child is sick, or during situations like the Covid-19 pandemic. Assignments can be turned into Google Classroom, and immediate formative feedback is shared using the Comment mode. Google Meet can be utilized for virtual instruction, discussions, and question/answer sessions.

Some ancillary responsibilities. We will all need to pitch in and do our part to make the school operate. It’s very likely that we will be doing lunch duty, helping with technology, holding babies, and helping students with babies get on and off the bus. 

Opportunities to develop as a leader. As a small school, there is always more work to be done than minds and bodies to do it. There are leadership positions and opportunities for you to refine your own job descriptions. If you are looking for a leadership path, this is your place to find it.

We hope for a long-term stay. We will consider ourselves a family for each other and our students. Developing a genuine culture of family requires that we develop deep, trusting relationships over a long time. In addition, we are building an organization and organizational development requires stability. 

Whatever It Takes. Our staff members are persistent, insistent, passionate, compassionate and mindful in their actions. They give 100% every day and go the extra mile to make the difference in the lives of our students.

Professionalism. Expect to work with people who consistently honor their commitments, show up and perform, and treat each other with respect.

Beneficial Block Scheduling for Teaching

Cardinal Academy will utilize the AB|AB|A and AB|AB|B block scheduling format for 90 minute classes.

Learning: More time for teachers to develop ideas and concepts in-depth, and for students to apply and demonstrate those concepts during the same period with teacher attention and scaffolding. Block scheduling is well suited for various types of activities and assessments, including project-based learning, scientific labs, field studies, field trips, and presentations. 

Student/Teacher Interaction: With fewer classes and longer class times, students will spend more time collaborating with their peers and teachers, and developing trusting relationships, an essential factor for learning for at-risk students. Also, teachers develop their Funds of Knowledge of students and can create lessons that intersect content with students’ interests and establish a caring, equitable classroom community.

Calm Environment: Block scheduling is less frantic with less changing of classrooms and content to study. Students can get more done in class with the scaffolding and attention of the teacher and have less homework. 

Block scheduling provides more time in class, fewer classes, and less recordkeeping.

Many preps, but small class size. Teachers will have multiple preps. How many will depend on the content area. However, we expect the classes at Cardinal Academy to be between 12 and 15 students.

Tutoring and academic support. Some teachers will be expected to tutor and support students who need further instruction beyond their class time, and who are taking online courses and may need assistance. This would be worked into the teacher’s daily schedule as a block, not extra time outside the schedule.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. At Cardinal Academy, you will serve an incredible community of pregnant and parenting students and their children by creating an amazing school from the ground up. Expect hugs every morning, “Aha” moments with students every day, chills up your back when you see a student grow academically and emotionally, colleagues with the same mindset about our mission as you have, and lots of tears of joy as our students cross the stage as a graduate at commencement.