Gordon School, East Providence, RI
Start date: August 2022
Founded in 1910 as the Open Air School by pediatrician Dr. Helen West Cooke, Gordon was Rhode Island’s first non-public, all-gender school. In 1963, the school moved to its current twelve-acre site in East Providence and remains true to its progressive roots, instilling “the true spirit of joyous work” and holding fast to the belief that “mind and heart should be educated with equal care.”
Today, Gordon is a racially and socio-economically diverse Nursery through eighth grade independent school with an enrollment of 382 students, renowned nationally for a multicultural curriculum and a commitment to equity, inclusion, and social justice. The mission is embraced by all members of the community and is championed in all aspects of school life, inspiring and informing daily decisions as well as long-term strategy.
Gordon’s nursery to eighth grade model best serves the educational, social, and emotional needs of children by allowing students to connect across grade levels, promoting a school-wide sense of community, cultivating leadership in children of all ages, and making key social skills like courage and compassion essential elements of the day-to-day experience.
Our curriculum focuses on developing intellectual leadership by leveraging a child’s natural imagination, creativity and inquisitive nature. Students are challenged and inspired to be active participants in their own education, and faculty and staff strive to develop deep and meaningful relationships with each child and family.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the essential role of social and emotional learning and mental health into focus and has drawn attention to the need to take a more holistic approach to students’ learning and development.
Gordon is seeking a highly skilled mental health practitioner to join a diverse and collaborative team of professionals to support the social and emotional wellbeing of our students and families from nursery to eighth grade.
Gordon’s school counselor will play a central role in attending to the mental health needs of children by working collaboratively with students’ families and divisional student support teams to advocate for students’ mental health and educational needs. The school counselor will provide a safe, accepting, non-judgmental space for students to discuss personal and academic issues, support student and family access to treatment, work across the school community to foster a culture of wellness, and help to maintain an emotionally healthy, productive and safe school environment.
The school counselor is a member of the Gordon faculty and reports to the Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning. The person in this role would work closely with the division directors, the consulting psychologist, the Health and Wellness Director, learning specialists, teachers, deans, classroom teachers, as well as Gordon’s therapy dog.
A day in the life of Gordon’s school counselor
The school counselor position presents an exciting opportunity for a passionate and compassionate health professional to touch and impact every aspect of school life.
On any given day you might find the school counselor…
- Leading a restorative justice circle with a group of Middle School students.
- Greeting students, parents, and caregivers at arrival and dismissal.
- Utilizing Gordon’s therapy dog to work with an Early Childhood or Lower School student having trouble separating from their caregiver in the morning.
- Chatting with students and teachers at recess or at an afterschool athletic game or performance.
- Supporting a classroom teacher with an acute, in-the-moment student situation.
- “Quarterbacking” a divisional team meeting to follow-up on student support plans and ensure appropriate implementation.
Work with students
- Lead one-on-one, small group or whole group sessions for students in Nursery to eighth grade on topics such as peer relationships, coping and soothing strategies, effective social and problem-solving skills, and conflict resolution, to name a few.
- Observe students in the classroom and develop behavioral plans in partnership with teachers, division directors, and other members of the student support teams.
- Commit significant time to building relationships with students when there is not a crisis, both in the classroom as well as in less-structured environments such as recess and lunchtime.
- Help students develop their understanding of ‘self’ as it relates to ‘others.’
- Advise student clubs or offer small-group meetings, as requested.
Work with colleagues
- Meet regularly and work collaboratively with the Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning, division directors, the consulting psychologist, the Health and Wellness Director, learning specialists and other members of the divisional student support teams on issues related to the mental health of the community.
- Work with classroom teachers to develop students’ social skills and peer relationships; develop and support behavioral plans for individual students.
- Work collaboratively with the consulting psychologist to develop and lead professional workshops for Gordon faculty and staff on relevant topics and best practices in the field.
Work with families
- Design parent education workshops in consultation with the Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning.
- Consult with families and provide referrals, when needed, to outside mental health services.
- Participate in meetings with families and caregivers at the request of the division directors, classroom teachers, advisors or deans.
- Partner with families to develop and implement behavior plans and offer support and resources as needed.
- Develop collaborative professional relationships with outside therapists, social and emotional learning experts, and other health and wellness professionals.
- Create and maintain a diverse list of clinical referrals and serve as a liaison between the school and outside providers.
- In collaboration with the Director of Health and Wellness, support the development of a Nursery to eighth grade social and emotional learning curricular scope and sequence.
- Maintain records of all counseling sessions and family communications.
- Collaborate with division directors, deans, teaching teams and learning specialists to develop a consistent and comprehensive system for the student transition process each year.
Desired leadership qualities
The successful candidate will demonstrate
- An enthusiastic commitment to Gordon’s progressive, multicultural curriculum and a recognition of the significance of social and emotional learning and mental wellbeing to the development of an excellent academic program and the development of compassionate, well-adjusted human beings.
- High cultural competency and racial literacy, and a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
- A professional, collaborative, team-oriented style characterized by empathy, flexibility, and patience.
- An ability to build trusting relationships with children and adults alike.
- A genuine appreciation of and respect for children; energy and enthusiasm for all aspects of school life.
- Warmth and a good sense of humor; patience and persistence; sense of curiosity and a love of learning.
- Exceptional writing, editing, and oral communication skills and proficiency in communicating and engaging effectively with a wide range of constituencies.
- The potential to be a thought leader on the cutting edge of preventative mental health care; the desire to model lifelong learning by actively seeking professional growth opportunities.
- Comfort and experience presenting in front of small and large groups.
- The desire to have fun!
Gordon is seeking candidates who have…
- At a minimum, a master’s degree in counseling, psychology, social work or related field. A LICSW or comparable license is preferred but not required.
- Preferably at least three to five years of experience in a similar role.
- Experience working in diverse and culturally responsive elementary and middle schools or with children in this age group.
- Knowledge of or commitment to developing capacity in trauma-informed care and racial stress interventions.
- Understanding the impact of social media and technology on young people and their families and the importance of cultivating ethical digital citizens.
- Expertise in the ethical, legal and confidentiality considerations related to counseling practices.
We strongly encourage applications from people of color, LGBTQIA+ educators, or educators from communities that are historically underrepresented in independent schools.
How to apply
Interested and qualified candidates should submit the following materials by January 14, 2022:
- A cover letter describing why you are interested in working at Gordon and how your talents and experience are a fit for this position.
- A current résumé.
Please send your materials electronically in one email and as separate PDF documents to:
Alethea Dunham-Carson, Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning
No phone calls, please.