The Primary School, Upper Elementary and Middle School Principal

The Primary School - East Palo Alto, California - Full time


The Primary School (TPS) is creating a new school model that brings together all of the adults in a child’s life, including parents, educators, and medical and mental health providers, starting from a very early age. TPS recognizes the entrenched racism that exists within our public systems and the unjust impact this has had on families of color. TPS’s aim is that children and families most impacted by systemic poverty and racism receive the multidisciplinary support they deserve to be well, learn, and thrive.

Long-term, TPS hopes to create a game-changing school model that can be replicated across the country. As they continue to learn and grow, TPS plans to share what they’ve learned and pursue policy and systems change on a local, state, and national level. TPS is proud to receive funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a major national philanthropy.

The Primary School’ approach has three defining characteristics:

  • TPS starts early. They start working with children as young as 8 months and provide full-time school starting at age three to reach them at a critical stage in development.
  • They partner with parents. TPS believes that when parents thrive, children thrive, so they support the wellness and growth of parents alongside the growth of their children.
  • TPS integrates services. Their unique model unites health care and education, building a multi-disciplinary team and holistic system of care around a child’s full needs.

In 2016, TPS opened its flagship school in East Palo Alto, California, with its first class of four year olds. TPS has grown to serve over 300 children and their families through a birth to three program, parent wellness program, full-day preschool, and elementary school, which will grow through eighth grade. In 2020, TPS began programming at their second site in Hayward, California. The Primary School is continuing to grow its East Palo Alto site and is excited to launch 5th grade for the 2022-2023 school year.

To learn more about The Primary School, please visit


The Primary School is hiring an Upper Elementary/Middle School Principal to work alongside the current school administration team to help lead their flagship East Palo Alto site. As they grow their current school-aged student body, TPS is looking for a team member to support their oldest students, currently in 4th grade, into and through middle school.

The Primary School was created on the belief that the current model of school is too narrow to support the needs of our highest risk children. TPS’s leadership structure reflects their expanded vision; the expectation of all school leaders is that they both oversee the academic program and play a key role in incorporating these broader supports. TPS is looking for an individual who both brings deep expertise in managing teachers and schools and a sincere desire to innovate and strive to make an impact beyond the traditional school model and principal role.

TPS’s philosophy balances high expectations for all children with a trauma-sensitive approach that addresses holistic child outcomes (academic, health, and “soul”). The curriculum is inquiry-based and data-driven, and TPS believes that student voice and choice are driven by rigorous planning and intellectual preparation. TPS celebrates joy in the classroom and takes into account the needs of the whole child, ensuring children are emotionally and cognitively ready to access learning. The Upper Elementary/Middle School Principal will work closely with the Director of Health, and Director of Parent Program to augment the classroom experience with health and parent supports that are both integrated within the school day and expand beyond the classroom. TPS’s model is still in the early stages, and the Principal will have an outsized opportunity to shape the design of the program and organization.


Key Responsibilities of the Upper Elementary/Middle School Principal include:

  • Instructional Leadership: Leading the upper elementary/middle school community in designing and implementing a high-quality instructional program through 8th grade; overseeing the refinement of curriculum, assessment, and learning experiences; leading the planning, data analysis, and goal setting for the grades that they coach and ensuring alignment with school-wide goals; building their own and direct reports’ instructional knowledge of standards, content, and methods; developing and promoting common instructional practices; and building an arc of professional development to enrich organizational learning and deepen the practices of the instructional team.
  • Talent Leadership: Overseeing a teacher performance management system that includes regular classroom observation, goal setting and tracking, and formal evaluations; identifying and rewarding strong performance, driving retention of high performers, and creating opportunities for professional growth; providing high-quality instructional coaching with frequent and scheduled teacher observations, actionable feedback, and accountability for adjustment in practice to ensure teachers are prepared to deliver exceptional instruction and build positive classroom environments;
  • Scholar Experience: Leading the upper elementary/middle school community in creating a powerful and joyful school experience for all children; developing and leading community events and rituals that foster a positive school culture that embraces student curiosity and instills an authentic love of learning; building and implementing consistent routines and processes across the school that create consistency for children and optimize learning time; modeling strong staff and student culture, and managing school-wide behavior management systems; and supporting teachers in student support and behavior intervention systems to ensure that limited time is spent on reactive student discipline.
  • Collaboration: Working with other site leaders to support the full needs of children; partnering with Family and Community Engagement Manager to foster inclusive and welcoming events at the school for families and community partners; collaborating with parent coaches, medical providers, and parents to identify and support the full needs of children; devising and monitoring high-impact support plans for struggling students; and meeting with families regularly to communicate about student successes and needs and to design ways to bring learning to the home.
  • Organizational and Operational Leadership: Serving as an active voice of leadership for the school and organization; participating in regular site leadership team meetings and organizational leadership team meetings; actively participating in the ongoing design and implementation of the TPS model through research, curriculum development, engagement with school and organizational leadership, and focused professional development; honoring the work and structures already put into place at the school to get teacher voice and input into decisions and design and continue to build upon and implement these structures for collective and equitable voice in decisions and school culture; supporting efficient school site operations; coordinating with the operations team to ensure a safe and consistent school environment for students; managing staff, student, and classroom schedules; representing the school in annual budget setting process; and managing ongoing school finances and ensuring school upholds all fiscal policies and procedures.


In order to fulfill these responsibilities, the ideal Upper Elementary/Middle School Principal candidate will be:

  • Aligned to the mission of The Primary School and that all children and families are capable of extraordinary things;
  • An experienced school leader with a track record of managing towards and achieving exceptional outcomes, who is able to run the day-to-day of a school while also pushing forward the design of TPS’s integrated work;
  • Extensively experienced working with high-poverty, communities of color;
  • An instructional leader who is experienced coaching and training teachers at all levels; and excels at motivating diverse individuals to be their best;
  • Equipped with an exceptional grasp of best practices in instruction and curriculum and a deep understanding of how to build trauma-sensitive and culturally responsive classroom cultures and systems that work for all children
  • Hungry for new approaches with the patience and skill to implement change;
  • Highly collaborative and excited to work with an interdisciplinary team in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial, and innovative organization;
  • Committed to the belief that we need a new model of school and to re-defining systems and the way we care for our children;
  • A believer in the mindset that all behaviors, even misbehaviors, are forms of communication;
  • Kind, humble, and courageous;
  • Able to take bold bets, make mistakes, and try again;
  • Seeking a position to stay in and dig into and have a commitment to the school in the long term.

A Plus If...

  • You are an East Palo Alto or Belle Haven native and/or have experience working with a community similar to East Palo Alto and Belle Haven.
  • You have an understanding of early childhood education and child development.
  • You speak fluent Spanish or Tongan.
  • You have previously launched a school in a leadership role.


Compensation is commensurate with qualifications and experience, plus excellent health benefits, 401k retirement plan, flexible spending account (FSA), dependent care FSA, and generous paid time off, including a competitive paid parental leave benefit. Annual salary range begins at $136,000.


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the functions. While performing the duties of this position, the employee is regularly required to talk, hear, and communicate with both adults and children. The employee frequently is required to use hands or fingers, handle or feel objects, tools, or controls. The employee is frequently required to stand, walk, sit, and reach with hands and arms. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this position include close vision, distance vision, and the ability to adjust focus. The noise level in the work environment is moderate to high.


Please submit a resume online at For additional questions about this position or to speak with someone about your interest, please contact Kayanna Scott Brown at

The Primary School is an equal opportunity employer and an organization that values diversity. Recruiting staff to create an inclusive organization is a priority, and we encourage applicants from all backgrounds. Candidates are evaluated solely on their qualifications to perform the work required.

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K12 School Operations

Experience Level

Senior Level

The Primary School

The Primary School's aim is that children and families most impacted by systemic poverty and racism receive the multidisciplinary support they deserve to be well, learn and thrive.
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