Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, a K-12, coed day school in Santa Monica, California, seeks an Upper School Head for July of 2021.
Crossroads embraces a progressive, developmental model of education and distinguishes itself with a dynamic curriculum and array of programs. At every level, and in every aspect of school life—from the classroom to the sports fields, labs, studios, and stages—the School provides an environment in which students thrive. The School is deeply committed to equity and justice, inspiring its students to make a positive, lasting impact on the world.
As established in the School’s Statement of Philosophy, Crossroads was founded upon five basic commitments, each given equal weight:
to academic excellence
to the arts
to the greater community
to the development of a student population of social, economic and racial diversity
to the development of each student’s physical well-being and full human potential.
The three divisions of the School—Elementary, Middle and Upper—create and deliver age-appropriate content and curricula that nurture the academic, creative, social, and emotional growth of every child. The School has established a clear identity for educating a diverse student body that reasons well, analyzes carefully, acts creatively, and engages meaningfully with the outside world. The strength of the School is demonstrated by the high demand for admissions, its excellent record of college placement, and the accomplishments and character of its impressive alumni.
Crossroads School was founded in 1971 by a small group of visionary educators and parents at St. Augustine-by-the-Sea Elementary School. In its first year, Crossroads taught 32 students in seventh and eighth grades out of three rented rooms of a Baptist church in Santa Monica. In 1972, Crossroads moved to 21st Street and continued to grow over the years, merging with St. Augustine in 1982 to offer a comprehensive K-12 experience. The School expanded its facilities through leasing and purchasing additional properties along and around the 21st Street “Alley” and created an eclectic, urban campus for the Middle and Upper Schools. In 1997, the Elementary School moved to the newly developed Norton Campus just a few blocks away at 1715 Olympic Blvd., which also houses the K-12 sports center.
The close proximity of the two campuses and the presence of Middle and Upper School students on the Norton Campus for physical education and athletics has allowed for frequent collaboration between all three divisions.
The Elementary School’s Norton Campus features spacious, child-friendly classrooms; an extensive library; a kindergarten play yard; special rooms dedicated to music, art, and drama; a science classroom and a STEAM computer lab. It is a cheerful, nurturing place for the youngest students to start exploring the world. The Norton Campus also houses the School’s K-12 sports center, including a gymnasium, swimming pool, and regulation-sized athletic field.
The nearby 21st Street Campus for the Middle and Upper School has evolved as the School has grown. It features a black box theater; a music recital hall; computer centers; a digital arts media lab; a photography lab; an outdoor basketball court and fitness center; dedicated buildings for modern foreign languages and the humanities; and an arts education center with dance studios, visual arts studios, an art gallery, and a screening room. A 25,000-square-foot Science Education & Research Facility was completed in the summer of 2015, offering fully equipped science labs for courses ranging from Global Health to Organic Chemistry. The 21st Street Campus includes an impressive 30,000-volume library as well as extensive digital resources.
Crossroads makes its home in the one of the world’s top creative capitals. Cultural attractions dot the city of Los Angeles, including more than 800 museums and art galleries and one of the finest concert halls in the country (Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall); the Getty Museum & Villa and the LA County Museum of Art together house one of the finest art collections in the world, while Bergamot Station, a complex housing numerous art galleries and the Santa Monica Museum of Art, is a short walk from Crossroads.
Santa Monica is just west of Los Angeles and is renowned for its beautiful beachfront location. Santa Monica and neighboring Venice have increasingly attracted many start-up tech companies to the area, earning the nickname “Silicon Beach.” The metropolitan area also features numerous public and private universities, including the University of Southern California, UCLA, the American Film Institute, Occidental College, and Caltech.
The School Community
Students at Crossroads hail from 86 zip codes in greater Los Angeles; international families are attracted to the School and find a warm welcome through its emphasis on shared values and spirited engagement. 47% of Crossroads students identify as student of color, drawn to the School for its outstanding academic programs, its robust arts and athletic opportunities, and the School’s commitment to service and community.
Crossroads students are multifaceted and excel in a wide range of subjects. In recent years, athletes have won state titles; classical musicians performed at Carnegie Hall with the School’s EMMI orchestra; science students earned a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams grant; and two activists were honored with a Communitas Award for their leadership roles in the Los Angeles Student Activist Coalition.
The paths that Crossroads alumni take are no less varied. Crossroads graduates have forged impactful careers in professions including civil rights law, medicine, the visual and performing arts, tech development, and education.
The highly involved parent community represents an eclectic array of professions and backgrounds and is marked by a commitment to the School’s mission and progressive pedagogy, its collective generosity, and strong community spirit.
The School’s nine-member senior administrative team, which includes the Upper School Head, meets weekly to engage in planning and decision-making. The School’s 166 faculty members (131 full-time and 35 part-time, 31.5% people of color) are deeply committed to the School’s continued earned reputation for excellence in its academic program and thoughtful stewardship of the social and emotional lives of the children in their care. The teacher-student relationship is at the heart of the Crossroads experience; teachers know each student deeply and serve as mentors and guides, forming bonds of trust and respect that last well beyond graduation.
A generous professional development program supports curricular innovation and keeps faculty attuned to research on all dimensions of child development, most especially concerning equity and inclusion of a diverse community of learners, and on developments in the various disciplines they teach.
Crossroads offers a rich, progressive K-12 education that emphasizes student-led inquiry and joyful learning. Healthy social and emotional development is key, supported by a robust, K-12 Life Skills program through which students learn to speak from the heart, listen with compassion, and appreciate differing perspectives. The School’s commitment to the greater good fuels its ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on campus and is at the heart the newly established Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute, which is bringing new opportunities for service and innovation to students while developing and supporting meaningful community action with partner organizations.
Crossroads is a proud member of the Progressive Education Network; Socal POCIS (Southern California People of Color in Independent Schools); and the Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs, for which Crossroads Head of School Bob Riddle had recently served as Board president.
In the Elementary School, which goes through fifth grade, teachers apply a constructivist approach to education, helping students rely on themselves and their peers to solve problems across all curricular areas. Learning in the Elementary School is integrated, experiential, child-centered, and socially mindful. Students are encouraged to be inquisitive and take initiative and ownership as they develop basic skills in reading, writing, math, speaking, and listening.
Middle School teachers understand the unique developmental needs of their students and anticipate their academic, social and emotional challenges. Students are guided to work cooperatively, honestly, directly, and supportively to achieve stated objectives. Through the innovative Options program, Middle School students are empowered to select their own electives and take ownership of their education. Teachers strive to provide both structural and instructional clarity to stretch their students intellectually and drive student-centered inquiry. Thoughtful, thorough and frequent student assignments and assessments give Middle School faculty the insight to evaluate students and assure their readiness for the next level of study.
Upper School students are well-prepared for life at colleges and universities across the country and around the world. The program is broad and deep, designed to challenge. Over a decade ago, the Upper School replaced Advanced Placement courses with rigorous home-grown advanced courses that favor complex explorations of subject matter over rote memorization. Students in the Upper School have access to an extraordinary array of arts options, with an audition-based classical music program, a sophisticated film studies program, a theater conservatory, and multiple visual and performing arts opportunities. Plans are being made for a new Performing Arts Center, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin in July 2021.
The Upper School science and engineering program offers a wide variety of courses designed to fulfill the varied interests of students with inquiry-based labs, field trips, and extended field studies. The independent study program gives Crossroads students the additional opportunity to work with faculty and outside professionals to develop, research, and test hypotheses of their choosing. In the English department, teachers seek to instill in students a lifelong love and appreciation of reading and the ability to write across disciplines in a manner that fluently communicates deeper meanings and values. Students experience literature from diverse perspectives and backgrounds, developing critical thinking skills.
The Upper School has a strong and balanced athletics program with three state titles, 21 Southern California and 16 CIF Southern Section titles, 28 CIF Southern Section Academic Championship titles, seven sport-specific CIF academic state championships, and one CIF academic state title. The School competes in the Gold Coast League.
Crossroads’ curriculum and programs are best understood through visiting the School’s website (xrds.org), which contains information on the School’s educational approach and on programming including academics, Human Development, the arts, and athletics.
Leadership Traits and Qualities
Crossroads seeks an Upper School Head who has a strong background in progressive curricula and pedagogy, and who has experience in a large, complex institution. The Upper School Head will lead faculty, drive innovation, and recognize the tension that exists as Crossroads strives to evolve and move forward while honoring the rich traditions that have been built over Crossroads’ five decades-long existence.
The Upper School Head will be a skilled diplomat with a well-developed sense of humor, an affirming presence, and an abundance of curiosity, who will lead a faculty of about 70 content specialists and assist their pedagogy. The right candidate will be a tireless, resilient, and enthusiastic advocate for equity and inclusion in all dimensions of school life.
Opportunities and Challenges
Crossroads completed an ambitious strategic plan in 2019; 15 strategic initiatives will require significant leadership and involvement from the Upper School Head, among them:
Enhance student wellness
Reimagine the School’s use of time
Update School philosophy and core commitments
Cultivate a consistent culture of learning and continuous improvement
Enhance a sense of belonging and inclusion
Develop a philosophy of learning spaces
Enhance performing arts program
Fortify the School’s equity and justice program
Develop an innovation center or a school within a school
Cultivate a new professional human resources paradigm
Expand the School’s environmental sustainability
Of particular interest is a candidate who is willing to take on difficult but critical conversations with faculty surrounding issues such as The Mastery Transcript; diversity, equity and inclusion; alternative assessments and grading; the creation of a new daily schedule; imagining a different school year calendar; and ultimately, reimagining high school itself.
Collaborating with the Associate Head and other division heads on the arc of the K-12 experience, the successful candidate will create a trusting bond with faculty, students, parents, and colleagues; promote an efficient distribution of work in a very complex operation; be an outstanding communicator; and sustain a culture that supports a lively exchange of ideas. The Upper School seeks a Head who is an astute and out-of-the-box problem-solver who also comfortably delegates and anticipates how challenges can best be addressed, leading with both empathy and confidence. Finally, the Upper School Head will also work closely with the Head of School and the directors of admissions, advancement, the equity & justice institute, and finance and operations, collaborating with them on key initiatives while keeping them abreast of important Upper School endeavors.
Candidates interested in applying for the Upper School Head position should submit a letter of interest, resume, writing sample/personal statement, and the names of four current references. Materials may be submitted in one of two ways:
The deadline for receipt of full application materials is October 15, 2020.
About Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences
Looking for a dynamic, diverse, student-centered school environment in which to work? Perhaps a career in progressive education is for you! Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, a non-profit, independent school, offers a range of professional opportunities, as well as a highly-competitive salary and benefits package for full-time employees. Benefits include medical, dental, vision and life insurance, tuition assistance, a retirement plan, and generous vacation.
Crossroads School does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, gender or gender identity, age, or sexual orientation.