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Dida Academy Seeks Program Manager and Facilitator

Job Description

Program Manager and Facilitator

Position Title: Program Manager and Facilitator

Reports to: Executive Director

Position Type: Full-time, Non-exempt

Job Overview

This new position offers a unique opportunity to join an innovative learning center, whose mission of self-directed education for youth is at the cutting-edge of children’s rights and education reform. We seek a passionate and capable person to join our young non-profit in a pivotal year of growth.

As we approach our fourth year in operation, Dida Academy is launching the position of Program Manager and Facilitator to grow our organization to a new level. This position will be responsible for the on-the-ground leadership of our learning center space on a daily basis. This role serves the dual purpose of creating and maintaining administrative / management tasks as well as engaging in and facilitating interactions with the students, their families, and the staff. This job offers the truly exciting potential of steering our organization as we expand from being a startup into a fully-developed organization.

This position will be full-time for the 2019-2020 school year (mid-September, 2019 through mid-June 2020). The ideal candidate would be available on a part-time basis (a few hours per week) between May-September 2019 to gear up for next year.

Please note, this is a hands-on management position during setup, school hours, and clean up (8:30am-3pm). The position has the additional responsibilities of:

  • being available daily for students, parents and staff outside of school hours
  • organizing and running facilitator preparation and reflection time
  • outside of school hours administrative work, staff meetings and trips
  • attending weekly staff meetings after school hours

This position reports to the Executive Director and manages 1-2 other facilitators and staff on site.

Dida Academy is an equal opportunity employer. Immigrants, people of color, LGBTQIA people, people with disabilities, and people who come from poor or working-class backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.  Dida Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression gender, national origin, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status.  

About Dida

Dida Academy is a self-directed learning center for teens. Dida students are registered homeschoolers who use homeschooling laws to enable freedom and flexibility of education. We operate Monday-Friday out of our learning space in Park Slope Brooklyn. We offer flexible enrollment options (1-5 days per week) to enable a student-centered, customized education.

Dida Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Dida’s Story

Dida Academy was founded by two people with a shared passion for youth liberation and auto-DIDA-ctism (education directed by the learner). As a school teacher of seven years, William Schmidt experienced firsthand how the conventional school model severely restricts young people’s freedom to pursue their curiosity, thus styming their love of learning. Knowing there must be a better way, he set out to search for alternative education models. In January 2016, Dr. Peter Gray gave a lecture about Self-Directed Education, where William sat behind Danielle Levine, who was vigorously taking notes about Gray’s “Free to Learn” philosophy.

Inspired by Self-Directed Education and its potential to unleash liberated learning, Danielle and William began to share their ideas and brainstorm solutions.

In July 2016, the duo launched a self-directed, project-based summer fellowship program with 6 Brooklyn teens. Dida Academy became a full-fledged learning center in the fall of 2017. We’ve been growing ever since, and are grateful to be supporting young people in their self-directed learning journeys.

Dida’s Core Values

  • Trust and Respect – We trust our students to make their own decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and how to allocate their time at Dida. Facilitators foster a learning environment with respect at its core, with all members of our diverse community treated as equals.
  • Empathy and Relationships – Through daily community meetings, mentor conversations, and collaborative activities, our students develop a deep sense of empathy while building authentic relationships. When conflicts arise, we problem-solve collectively to develop and revise community norms.
  • Challenge and Achievement – Our community inspires and supports students to learn from mistakes, overcome obstacles, and realize their ideas. Students develop a unique skill set based on their interests to prepare for a fulfilling future.
  • Lifelong Learning – Free to pursue their innate curiosities, students strengthen their skills as autodidacts (self-taught individuals). Facilitators and guests with eclectic backgrounds expose students to new areas for exploration and model what it means to be a lifelong autodidact.
  • Fun and Play – Every day is an opportunity to play, laugh, and tinker with new ideas. We foster an environment where students feel comfortable to express themselves authentically and build self-confidence.


Program Management

  • Understand, develop, and implement the philosophy of Self-Directed Education at the center, train other staff or set up trainings as necessary
  • Outreach to field trip destinations / volunteers / people to collaborate with for day-time activities (e.g., collaborations with other self-directed learning centers)
  • Manage budget for supplies and field trips in consultation with the Executive Director
  • Maintain and manage the physical space of the center (which is shared with another organization after hours) including purchasing and organizing materials and resources so that they are easily accessible to the needs of all using the space

Learning Facilitation

  • Engage warmly and enthusiastically with students daily, helping them to discover and pursue their interests
  • Plan, manage, and lead the core programmatic elements of the learning center for the students and staff:
    • daily community meeting with students and facilitators
    • intention setting and reflection
    • goal setting
    • project planning (optional for students)
    • field trip planning
  • “Bridge the gap” between the goal setting aspirations of students and their families with the reality of executing them
  • Manage the conflict resolution methods used in the space

Communications and Outreach

  • Maintain awareness of day-to-day issues that arise for students / families; serve as lead coordinator of responding to student/family concerns / issues, ensuring timely and appropriate responses that reflect our mission
  • Write quarterly narratives for each student (helping parents with their mandatory homeschool quarterly reports)
  • Liaison of communication between students, parents, staff, and Executive Director
  • Develop new programming (e.g. evening talks, weekend projects) to further develop the center’s community and outreach
  • Social media, marketing, media collection (photos/videos), primary writer of marketing materials


  • Experience working with adolescents and families (2+ years preferred, self-directed learning environment preferred)
  • Knows about / has a propensity towards the mindset of Self-Directed Education and children’s rights
  • Punctual, reliable, dependable, communicative
  • Enthusiasm for both hands-on play and administrative tasks
  • Self-organized and self-motivated
  • Confident, extroverted, storyteller
  • Extremely organized but flexible; has the ability to be spontaneous
  • Maintains a professional and accountable demeanor
  • Compassionate and empathetic but able to give honest critiques
  • Well-traveled; lots of unique and interesting experiences
  • Able to cultivate community in a multi-cultural, multi-learner setting
  • A genuinely interested and interesting person
  • Experience with various types of communal structures and forms of decision-making and knows their strengths and weaknesses
  • Comfortably models making mistakes and how to overcome them
  • Experience maintaining a budget and managing a grassroots organization is a plus
  • Experience with social justice and activism is a plus

Physical Aspects of the Job

This position requires the ability to climb stairs and be physically active throughout the day. Our center is located up a flight of stairs and we unfortunately do not have an elevator. In addition, the ability to physically travel around NYC is an important part of leading field trips.


This position will be salaried between the months of September 2019 – June 2020. This position includes four weeks of paid time off during school breaks. The salary will equate to $20-30/hour, depending on experience and funding. We are a small start-up organization and unfortunately cannot offer health insurance or other benefits at this time.

As we grow, there is room for salary increases and job advancement for the right person. Our organization is committed to mentoring and developing our staff to help them achieve their own personal and professional goals.

How to Apply

To apply, please email a cover letter, resume, and two references to Danielle Levine, Executive Director, at Candidates will be considered immediately, and on a rolling basis. Please apply as soon as possible for priority consideration.

Dida’s Contact Information


823 President Street

Brooklyn, NY 11215

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New AERO Conference Information

School Visits has been updated.
See all newly added workshops here .
See some of the 9 TED-like mini-talks here. More next week.
Later this week we’ll announce at least 20 participating organizations.
The Pioneers Event will honor at least 10 innovators in Alternative Education.
We will have special strands for students, Self-Design and ASDE.
If you need more information or have a special conference need you can reply to this newsletter or call us at 800 769-4171
CE and Graduate Credits for AERO Conference; Child Care; Room Shares; Listserve and Networking; Deposits:

  • You can get continuing education credits and graduate education credits from Antioch University New England by attending the AERO Conference. Contact us for details.
  • There will be child care for children under 12, only $100 for the whole conference, during workshops and keynotes. Student rate is still only $175
  • Attendees are organizing room shares at the hotel to cut costs. Contact us for more information.
  • All registered attendees are added to a conference listserve to coordinate and supplement information. All attendees will soon be able to join the Whova conference app to do the same.
  • You can still hold the current rates with a $50 deposit for and individuals and $100 deposit for a group. The balance is not due until June 1st

DOCUMENTARIESClick here to see all five of the documentaries that we’ll be showing.

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Pono Seeks Early Childhood Teacher’s Assistant & Part-Time Math Educator

Part-Time or Full-Time Early Childhood Teacher’s Assistant 

Pono is seeking an individual to fill an Early Childhood TA position. We are looking for candidates who have experience teaching children ages 2-3 years old. Candidates who are balanced, energetic, child-at-heart, interested in non-traditional educational philosophies, and who have a background in the RIE approach, special education, Music, Humane Education, or who speak a foreign Language (Arabic, Spanish, or Japanese) are encouraged to apply. Early Childhood teaching certificate is a plus.

Part-Time Math Educator

Pono is currently looking to fill a part-time Math position. Background in Mathematics Education and experience teaching Math is required. General responsibilities include: designing an innovative math curriculum and leading math lessons for children ages 6 – 11. Candidates with a background in special education are encouraged to apply.

To apply to any of the above positions, submit a cover letter, current resume, and any additional information you think we should consider in evaluating you as a candidate. Strong applications will address the following questions:

  • What makes you a good fit for Pono?
  • What makes you a strong candidate for this position?
  • What support would you need to excel in the position? Please be specific.

All materials and inquiries are to be submitted electronically as an attachment to Dr. Maysaa Bazna (

Here is the link to the job opening on our website:

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One Student’s Thoughts & Feelings About High-Stakes Standardized Test

From Dan Drmacich via the Diane Ravitch Blog

Kevin Bosworth, a teacher at Olathe East High School in Olathe, Kansas, wrote to tell me about a class discussion of grades and tests. A student shared her poem with the class, and Kevin shared it with me. The reformers and disrupters now say they are intrigued with social and emotional learning. Let them read this and see what they have learned.

Hello my name is worthless
Name number and date
State your class and hour
Let the rubric pick your fate 

Your value as a human
Can be measured by percent
All that matters is the value
That the numbers represent 

We promise that you matter
You’re more than just a grade
But you better score one hundred
Or else you won’t get paid 

They require our attendance
We’re brain dead taking notes
So we can barf back up the knowledge
That they shove down our throats 

Each human life is precious
And every childhood has worth
But if you fill in the wrong bubbles
Then you don’t belong on earth 

They question our depression
They wonder why we’re stressed
When our futures are decided
Doing better on a test 

They tell me that I’m gifted
That there’s no need to despair
But if you only read the numbers
I’m a living waste of air 

I might think I have talents
But there’s no worth in art
Because it can’t be measured
By a number on a chart 

The people say I’m flying
The numbers say I’ll crash
My letter grades ‘ll prove it
I’m worthless human trash

They use standardized procedures
To find the worth of kids
But I don’t fit in boxes
Without spilling out the lids 

Some kids don’t fit the system
But differences can’t stay
They put us in the garbage
And throw it all away