APPLICATION PERIOD CLOSED. Common Ground seeks Forest School Teacher in the NatureYear Program


Organization Overview

Common Ground is a center for environmental learning and leadership in New Haven, Connecticut where a diverse community of children, young people, and adults cultivate habits of healthy living and sustainable environmental practice. Farm meets forest meets city on Common Ground’s 20 acre campus at the base of West Rock Ridge. The site abuts the 1800 acre West Rock State Park, sharing hiking trails, wildlife, and diverse natural habitats with the surrounding forests. Common Ground’s urban farm produces over 7000 pounds of fresh, organically grown food each season. Common Ground’s Charter High School uses the site as an organizing principle of its curriculum which is guided by an ecological framework highlighting the connection and interdependence of all living and non-living things.   Each year, more than 10,000 community members participate in festivals, field trips, after-school programs, and other educational opportunities on site.

Job Description

From September through mid-June this position is dedicated to teaching in the NatureYear program four days per week, plus one project day a week. NatureYear connects a small group of children (ages 5 – 13) with a 10 month long intensive experience in nature. NatureYear teachers use an emergent curriculum that follows the seasons and the interests of the children. Teachers provide content based learning about science, nature, and the environment as well as facilitate and create opportunity for adventure based play. Each full time NatureYear teacher also has a “project day” which is a non-teaching day dedicated to a variety of tasks. Tasks may include caring for our campus, site maintenance, parent communications, preparing materials for activities, and any other task related to the physical care of our campus or administration or programs. NatureYear is conducted almost entirely outdoors in all weather, with indoor spaces available only in severe weather.

For the 2017 – 2018 program year, we are specifically seeking a NatureYear teacher with significant professional experience with 5 – 7 year old children. This position will serve as the head teacher for a group of eight 5 – 6 year old children two or three days per week, and will work with the mixed age group of eighteen 5 – 13 year olds on other program days . The ideal applicant has significant experience in leading a program or a classroom of preschool and/or Kindergarten aged children in both play based and learning activities.

From mid-June through mid-August this position is dedicated to Summer Camp, in either a teaching or administrative role.

This position requires exceptional behavior management skills, excellent judgement, adaptability, flexibility, and the ability to make sound decisions on-the-spot. This position also includes regular verbal and written communication with the parents of enrolled children.

Additional responsibilities

This position is a member of the Community Programs Team and reports to the Director of Community Programs Additional position responsibilities include:

  • Participation in ongoing staff development as a member of the Environmental Education team
  • Working as a member of the Community Programs Team, including regular meetings and work to support the overall operations of the non-profit programs. This may include some evening and weekend fundraising events and seasonal community events, with time off in trade in the following week if events are outside of usual working hours.
Position Requirements
  • A minimum of 3 years experience as an outdoor Environmental Educator, or in a school/preschool with a significant outdoor component. Preference given to applicants with significant experience with children ages 5 – 7.
  • Strong understanding of developmental needs of children ages 5 – 7 and experience in a leadership position that is responsible for meeting social and emotional needs of young children.
  • A passion for Common Ground’s mission and commitment to equity, diversity and sustainable change.
  • Experience managing groups of children and developing/systems to organize transitions, stations and materials.
  • Strong critical thinking and problem solving skills and ability to work independently.
  • Experience and commitment to working closely with a racially and economically diverse urban school community.
  • Strong communication skills, including speaking with children and adults as well as written communications (newsletters, daily/seasonal child reports, etc).
  • Ability and desire to work outdoors in all weather, including rain and snow.
  • Commitment to child centered teaching and behavior management, with the ability and desire to understand and meet the needs of individual children.
Preferred (not required) qualifications
  • Bachelor degree or higher in education, environmental education, or related field.
  • Interest in/knowledge of the Forest School model of learning
  • Current CPR and First Aid certification
Schedule and Salary

This position is full time (40 hrs/wk, 12 months), with benefits.

Salary based on experience. This is a one year, renewable position from August 1, 2017* – June 30, 2018.

*start date may be adjusted based on when employment offer is made

 Health, Life, Vision, and Dental insurance. Three weeks paid vacation plus 13 paid holidays.

To Apply

Complete the online form HERE and also email a cover letter and resume to Rebecca Holcombe at

Applications open until the position is filled, but interviews will begin on July 1 and applying by June 30 is strongly recommended.



It has been the policy and will continue to be the strong commitment of the Common Ground and all contractors and subcontractors who do business with Common Ground to provide equal opportunities in employment to all qualified persons solely on the basis of job-related skills, ability and merit. Common Ground will continue to take Affirmative Action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, mental disorder (present or past history thereof) age, physical disability (but not limited to blindness), marital status, mental retardation, criminal record, sexual orientation, gender identity and criminal record. Such action includes, but is not limited to, employment, promotion, demotion or transfer; recruitment or recruitment advertising; layoff or termination; rates of pay or other forms of compensation, and selection for training, professional development, attendance at conference or other opportunities for advancement. Common Ground, its contractors and subcontractors will continue to make good faith efforts to comply with all federal and state laws and policies which speak to equal employment opportunity.

The principles of Affirmative Action are addressed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments of the United States Constitution, Civil Rights Act of 1866, 1870, 1871, Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VI and VII of the 1964 United States Civil Rights Act, Presidential Executive Order 11246, amended by 11375, (Non-discrimination under federal contracts)< Act 1, Section 1 and 20 of the Connecticut Constitution, Governor Grasso’s Executive Order Number 11, Governor O’Neill’s Executive Order 9, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Law (Sec. 46a-60-69) of the Connecticut General Statutes, Connecticut Code of Fair Practices (46a-70-81), Deprivation of Civil Rights (46a-58(a)(d)), Public Accommodations Law (46a-63-64), Discrimination against Criminal Offenders (46a-80), definition of Blind (46a-51(1)), definition of Physically Disabled (46a-51(15)), definition of Mentally Retarded (46a-51(13)), cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (46a-77), Sexual Harassment (46a-60(a)-8), Connecticut Credit Discrimination Law (360436 through 439), Title I of the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972.

This Affirmative Action Policy Statement re-affirms Common Ground’s commitment to equity in the workplace and the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity.


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