Executive Director: The Little School

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The Little School


The Little School is a nationally recognized, relationship-based, inclusive preschool program committed to providing individualized, quality education to young children. The San Francisco-based school is seeking an outstanding Executive Director to lead its unique program starting in July 2020.



At The Little School, we focus on the development of the whole child. We celebrate an individual’s strengths, encourage interests, and support challenges. We believe that strong positive relationships and a robust, supportive community, where everyone feels respected and included, are the keys to a successful learning environment.

The pillars responsible for bringing our philosophy to life include:

  • Quality Early Childhood Education. Early Childhood Education principles and best practices are the foundation of The Little School. Upon this foundation, the school has created its own inclusive, relationship-based approach. This approach has received local and national attention; has been taught in local and national conferences, workshops, and consulting engagements; and has been documented in a training film: “Relationships: The Key to Teaching and Learning in the Early Years” and a book: Including One, Including All: A Relationship-Based Guide to Early Childhood Education.
  • Inclusion. The Little School is committed to serving children with diverse developmental profiles, including children with identified special needs. A range of children with unique strengths, challenges, and interests both strengthens the social competence and empathy of every child in the school and encourages teachers to develop teaching strategies and learning tools that benefit every child.
  • Diversity. The Little School strives to create a community with racial, ethnic, socio-economic and family- structure diversity as well as a range of life experiences and abilities. This rich assortment of families creates the potential for each individual member to stretch their cultural competence and communicate in new ways.
  • Excellent Teachers. The school is fortunate to have an outstanding and tenured team of teachers. The success and long tenure of our teachers (approximately one-third have tenure of greater than 15 years and one-third 6-15 years) are due to the individuals themselves, to the school’s commitment to professional development and guidance, to teacher involvement in the program’s development, and to the structure of the teacher work week (e.g. 5-7 hours per week off the floor to support the program, children, and families).
  • Parent – Teacher – School Partnership. Parents at The Little School are actively engaged in the school community. Parents, teachers and administrators collaborate to support each child and the community as a whole. It is a culture of caring and contribution. Each member of the community assists where possible, whether chaperoning a field trip, attending a family share day, participating on a volunteer committee or serving as a Trustee. Parents also come together for Parent Education events focused on topics central to early childhood and The Little School’s core tenets.


The fundamental tools which support our educational approach include:

  • The Sensory Lens. The Little School uses a sensory-processing lens as a basic tool for understanding a developmental profile, for regulating and organizing children, and for helping children understand themselves and others.
  • Social-Emotional Curriculum. Social-emotional curricula (e.g. identification, processing and validation of feelings, as well as conflict-resolution) and regulation curricula (e.g. identifying our internal state and what tools help calm and organize us, such as those outlined in Zones of Regulation and The Engine Curriculum) are embedded in daily classroom life and and conversation.
  • Emergent Curriculum. Teachers are intentional in providing experiences that reflect the emerging interests of individuals and groups of children. The goal is to support overall development, be it cognitive, social, emotional, symbolic, physical, or creative.

Other Key Facts

  • The Program. There are 110-115 students enrolled with small class sizes and teacher ratios ranging from 1:4 to 1:8. Current individual programs or classes include: two 2-3 year-old programs with classes on two half-days per week; two 3-4 year-old programs with classes on three half-days per week; two 4-5 year-old programs with half-day daily classes; one transitional kindergarten with half-day daily classes; four intertwined extended day programs; and a summer program.
  • The Little School has a stellar reputation. We have over 500 applications for approximately 25 spaces per year.


The new Executive Director will have the opportunity to lead a school that believes passionately in its educational approach and is well positioned for new growth and development. The new Executive Director will also have committed financial support to retain, recognize and attract top staff members, and will enjoy the benefits and strategic opportunities provided by an excellent facility.


  • Be passionate about children and early childhood education
  • Embrace The Little School’s core values: relationship-based education, inclusion, diversity, commitment to teacher excellence and strong parent / school partnership
  • Be a strong leader who can inspire, manage, mentor, and partner with a highly knowledgeable and passionate staff
  • Recruit new teachers as needed
  • Facilitate Parent Education events central to the educational philosophy of The Little School
  • Partner with the Board of Trustees to honor the school’s values, achieve the school’s strategic goals and maintain a financially sound organization
  • Honor and advance the vision, mission, philosophy, and culture of The Little School
  • Be an ambassador, team player and consensus-builder who is comfortable working with and balancing the needs of multiple constituents including professional colleagues, Board of Trustees, parents and prospective families
  • Be a strategic thinker and thoughtful problem solver who can listen attentively and consider many points of view, develop an action plan, execute on the plan, and reflect on lessons learned
  • Facilitate Kindergarten admissions by giving general guidance to families about the transition to kindergarten, understanding kindergarten options, and forging relationships with admissions directors
  • Be a strategic, active, and enthusiastic partner in fundraising efforts
  • Embody a can-do, no-job-is-too-small attitude


  • Early childhood education expertise: both on-the-floor early childhood teaching experience and strong knowledge of early childhood education practices
  • Demonstrated success as a leader and manager, including experience leading a team, structuring an organization, and establishing and implementing a strategic vision and action plan; financial and operational experience is a plus
  • Genuine enthusiasm for The Little School’s philosophy, especially the tenets of inclusion, diversity, relationship-based learning, and individualized education
  • Strong interpersonal skills: a capable listener and communicator with high emotional intelligence, warmth, and empathy
  • Ability to understand and respond to the needs of a diverse community
  • Integrity, humility, and a natural inclination for reflection and growth
  • It is highly desirable that the Executive Director of The Little School meets all Director Qualifications per the California Community Care Licensing Division or is engaged in the appropriate coursework to secure that licensing. For more information, please see: http://ccld.ca.gov/res/pdf/ChildCareCtrProviderReqStaffQual.pdf. Experience with Reggio Emilia education and advanced degrees in child development and early childhood education are highly desirable.


Interested and qualified candidates are asked to submit electronically the following materials to the Search Consultant, Janet McGarvey, in one email and as separate documents (preferably PDFs) no later than September 20, 2019:

A current resume and letter of interest, a one or two page statement of educational philosophy, and a list of five professional references with name, phone number, and email address of each. (References will not be contacted without the candidate’s permission.

Please send documents and inquiries to Janet McGarvey at directorsearch@littleschool.org


To apply for this job email your details to janetmcgarvey@gmail.com

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