Careers in Independent Schools

Susan Booth

Independent school teachers and administrators work in closely-knit communities with high academic expectations, motivated students, and involved parents. They have a chance to collaborate with colleagues, and to affect the development of young people through their work in and out of the classroom. Classes are intimate learning environments where teachers are closely connected to their students and discipline problems are rare. Independent schools encourage teachers to be creative, flexible, and autonomous in their classrooms. Each independent school strives to admit students who will benefit the most from its program. The same rationale applies for selecting administrators and teachers, and finding the right job often depends on finding the right match between your talents and interests and a school's philosophy, mission, and needs.

Head of School

The professional, institutional, and educational leader of the school.  Oversees all school administration, works with the board and staff to implement board policies, reports to the board on all key areas, and represents the school to internal and external constituents. Manages faculty, staff, and student selection, evaluation and dismissal, and develops and monitors the school's resources.

Division Head/Principal

Provides academic leadership for a school division and oversees its climate, daily operations, and budget. Manages faculty hiring, evaluation, and professional development. Seeks input from and works with the head of school, other administrators, parents, and students. Guides and supports the faculty in curriculum development and maintaining high standards.

Director of Studies/Director of Curriculum

Oversees curriculum development, learning objectives, assessment, and academic standards. Works with faculty to coordinate curriculum throughout the school, review and select texts and learning materials, and communicate with parents.  Provides professional development opportunities and instructional resources for faculty.

Business Manager/Chief Financial Officer

Manages and administers the school's business functions including: accounting, facilities, insurance, legal issues, transportation, administrative support staff, bookstore, food-service, student records, and salaries and benefits. In some cases, may oversee the school's financial aid program.

Director of Development

Develops and runs the school's fund-raising programs which can include campaigns, major gifts, annual giving, and planned giving. Establishes and strengthens relationships with donors. Manages alumni, parent, and grandparent giving programs and works closely with trustee, corporate, and foundation donors.

Director of Admissions

Manages student selection and enrollment.  Represents the school to current and prospective students, parents, and the community. Markets the school to prospective students and parents, studies enrollment trends, responds to inquiries, and interviews and screens candidates. Works with volunteer parents, former parents and alumni to recruit new students. Collaborates with the financial aid office to assist students and their families with financial planning. Oversees retention of current students and conducts research on student matriculation and attrition.  In some cases, may oversee the school's financial aid program.

Director of Financial Aid

Manages the school's financial aid budget and coordinates the distribution of funding to families. Collects and evaluates family requests for financial assistance. Provides information and counseling on financial aid resources available, which may include assisting families with their financial planning.  Collaborates with the admissions and/or the business office to fulfill the school's enrollment management objectives.

Director of Communications/Director of Public Relations

Enhances and sustains a positive image of the school with key constituency groups including current and prospective students and parents, current and prospective faculty, local and national opinion leaders, government, the media, and local community. Develops and produces periodicals, publications, websites, press releases, and other media to connect constituency groups to the school and build support for the school. Working with other administrative staff, may develop the school's crisis plan and be responsible for crisis management. In some cases, represents the school to local and national media.

Director of Diversity

Leads the school in diversity initiatives and works with the school head, administrators, faculty, students, and parents to create a diverse and supportive school environment. Provides curriculum and programmatic resources.    Manages community relations and admissions outreach to local and other communities.

Director of Alumni Relations

Cultivates and strengthens the school's relationships with alumni, current students, parents, grandparents, staff, and donors. Helps alumni network and maintain a relationship with the school through special events, reunions, homecomings, educational programs, online communities, and listserves.


Works collaboratively and enthusiastically with a team of faculty colleagues, administrators, and parents to nurture children both inside and outside the classroom. Provides for the safety and well-being of all students at all times, models appropriate and ethical behavior, develops and teaches courses and curriculum, and assesses student learning. Through meetings, reports, and other vehicles, maintains communication with administrators, parents, and students. Supports the school community through academic and non-academic programs and activities and learns new skills on an ongoing basis.

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