City Garden Montessori School, Chief Academic Officer

City Garden Montessori - St Louis, Missouri - Full time

City Garden Montessori School

City Garden Montessori School (City Garden) is the only Montessori charter school in Missouri, and they are one of the highest-performing charter schools in the state. Their team possesses passion and determination to implement the Montessori approach to educating children in a diverse, urban environment. City Garden is committed to being an anti-biased, anti-racist community and seeks others who are passionate about these values. They are committed to continuous learning and growth for adults in the community, to foster excellence for all City Garden children. Located in St. Louis, City Garden just renewed its second 10 Year Charter with the state of Missouri. They began in 2008 with 53 students; now, they have 278 children in preschool through eighth grade. As they grow, they continue to seek individuals to join them who share their vision for academic excellence for all children and holistic Montessori education, rooted in social justice.

City Garden has attracted support from the Opportunity Trust, and the

Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative is writing a case study about City Garden’s innovative model.

Chief Academic Officer

As City Garden embarks on this ambitious growth plan, they’re seeking to hire a visionary academic leader to lead the growth and development of City Garden schools and City Garden’s newly-forming Institute. The Chief Academic Officer (CAO) will lead the development of City Garden from a single-site, 278-student school to a network of four or more schools that serve 600+ students each. They are seeking an exceptional instructional leader who is deeply aligned with City Garden’s anti-biased, anti-racist Montessori approach.

The priorities for the CAO over the next two years will be:

  • Leading the codification of City Garden’s curriculum and instructional practices, aligning Montessori, Missouri Learning Standards, and anti-bias, anti-racism (ABAR) curriculum
  • Supporting and overseeing the launch of an ABAR Montessori elementary teacher training program
  • Preparing City Garden’s flagship campus for growth, which will begin in 2020
  • Planning for the opening of City Garden’s second campus, which will open in 2021

The ideal CAO candidate will have a track record of success around closing racial achievement gaps, understanding public education and Montessori curriculum, and organizational management. They need to be strongly collaborative in order to work within City Garden’s culture of radical hospitality and communication. The right candidate will be able to put a stake in the ground on decisions and to push back on the board and staff when necessary.

Reporting directly to City Garden’s Executive Director, the CAO will serve on a leadership team along with the COO and will manage a school principal. In the coming years, the CAO will hire principals for City Garden’s new schools, and will build a team of instructional leaders for City Garden.

When this CAO has been successful, City Garden will have shown that public Montessori schools with an anti-biased, anti-racist framework can be replicated.


The CAO’s Key Responsibilities Include:

  • Codify City Garden’s current academic approach and curriculum, focusing on alignment to the defined vision (e.g., Work with instructional team to create curriculum maps, pacing guides, assessments, model lessons and/or albums for literacy and math);
  • Oversee the launch of an anti-biased, anti-racist Montessori elementary teacher training program, to create a pipeline of excellent teachers, including finalizing job descriptions and hiring key training center positions;
  • Develop a robust training plan for teachers and leaders, in coordination with the Institute;
  • Lead the growth of the current school and new schools, including hiring founding principals/staff, recruiting teachers, building relationships with the communities, and ensuring consistency among schools and classrooms;
  • Ensure alignment and collaboration between schools and the Institute, including curriculum, instructional practices, and culture;
  • Develop a plan for ongoing feedback and continuous improvement of the curriculum for all subjects and levels that deeply involves school staff;
  • Develop a vision and training plan for coaching and development at City Garden, including approach/roles (e.g., role of lead guides, role of level leaders, intersection with Institute), frequency of coaching/PD, and substance/content;
  • Closely monitor consistency of execution of the new approach as well as effectiveness – make adjustments to the approach or training on the approach as needed;
  • Manage the school principal and other leaders (once those are hired) and work collaboratively with the Executive Director, instructional lead guides, board members, parents, partners, and other key stakeholders;
  • Serve as a go-to for academic issues with parents, staff, and leaders.


Candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Deeply grounded in racial equity and have strong alignment with anti-bias anti-racism values, and be able to lead from this place;
  • Montessori training and experience. Previous experience teaching and/or leading in a Montessori school is preferred;
  • Experience working in K-12 public education. School principal or central office/network leadership is strongly preferred;
  • Extensive understanding of Common Core State Standards;
  • Significant experience in instructional practices and curriculum development/alignment,
  • Deep and comprehensive understanding of K-12 education and its political and policy landscape.

In order to fulfill these responsibilities, the ideal CAO will also possess:

  • Demonstrated success as a visionary educational leader with strong instructional insight, and demonstrable evidence of closing racial achievement gaps;
  • A strategic mindset, with the ability to craft and align a team around a compelling vision for excellence;
  • Effective management and leadership experience with a track record of effectively coaching, developing, and evaluating leaders and holding them accountable for measurable results;
  • Experience in overseeing a complex organization with an ability to manage organizational change effectively;
  • Knowledge of pedagogical models and strategies to improve instructional delivery with an ability to design, deliver, and support high-quality professional learning for teachers and staff;
  • Ability to understand and analyze data to draw out big themes;
  • Versatility and dynamism, able to engage a variety of individuals in dialogue and speak and write in a clear, compelling, and authentic manner about the organization’s goals and priorities;
  • Being child-centered, flexible, and willing to do whatever it takes for our students;
  • Have a growth mindset and commit to proactive, self-directed continuous learning;
  • Express humility, vulnerability, and willingness to speak and hear candid feedback.


This position offers a competitive salary range of $132,600 - $156,000, and robust benefits including medical, dental, retirement, generous personal time off, and an admissions preference to City Garden Montessori School. More details can be provided upon request.

What It’s Like to Work at City Garden

Their work is a calling. They are implementing a very unique, specialized approach to education. City Garden is also much more than a school–they have a deep commitment to doing “whatever it takes” for their children and families, and they educate their children in the context of an active, vibrant, diverse community. All of this requires a special kind of commitment. Their lead guides (teachers) must have both state certification and Montessori certification, or be willing to work toward acquiring both. Guides and staff must also have a high level of cultural competence, and be committed to constant growth in this area. Their work requires being coachable, an ongoing desire to learn and a sense of egoless-ness. Their work is not easy. Their guides (teachers) individualize curriculum for every student and have mixed age groupings. They are constantly aligning Montessori with the Common Core, and they strive to implement the Montessori approach with fidelity while meeting the requirements of teaching in a public school. Their work requires flexibility, independence, and initiative. They are a young school; things change fast, and they are still developing programs, systems, and structures. Their work is profoundly rewarding!!! Their children love to come to school. They are joyful, funny and engaged, and they love all of the adults at City Garden. They have an incredible community of support beyond our walls, which includes parents, neighborhood residents, other organizations, businesses, foundations, corporations and lots of individuals who believe in them and their mission.

To Apply

Please apply by submitting your resume and detailed cover letter which highlights your interest in the position, relevant experience, and how you meet the qualifications and qualities sought for the position online at For additional questions about this position or to speak with someone about your interest, please contact Ron Rapatalo at

City Garden Montessori School is an equal opportunity employer and an organization that values diversity, equity and inclusion. Recruiting staff to create an inclusive organization is a priority, and they encourage applicants from all cultures, races, ethnicities, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientations, gender identities, military or veteran status, or other statuses protected by law. All candidates are evaluated solely on their qualifications to perform the work required.

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District / Charter Chief Academic Officer

Experience Level

Senior Level

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