Chief Academic Officer
National Heritage Academies (NHA), is one of the nation’s leading education management organizations, currently operating over 89 schools across nine states serving over 60,000 students in Kindergarten through 8th grade.
Founded in 1995 and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, NHA is dedicated to the mission of serving children and partnering with communities to provide high-quality education with a focus on academics as well as character, which it refers to as moral compass. NHA is a for-profit organization with more than 5,000 employees. NHA’s system of schools is designed to eliminate the achievement gap and provide a public-school choice to families so that their children are prepared for success in high school, college, and beyond.
NHA’s superior school management processes allow teachers to focus on their students and teaching, giving them time to adapt their methodologies to best fit individual student’s needs. NHA has the highest renewal rate among education management organizations, a key indicator of value and prominence in the market.
The Chief Academic Officer is responsible for ensuring successful achievement of NHA’s goal of having 90% of students who have been with a school for three or more years meet or exceed the college readiness thresholds for math and reading.
By defining key metrics and ensuring the systematic implementation of programs and services the CAO will increase academic success across the school portfolio. S/he will drive initiatives to strengthen NHA’s brand to become a provider and employer of choice and represent programs and initiatives which drive excellence in instruction. S/he will also be a key partner to the CMO in driving student enrollment.
Based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, with up to 40% travel to individual schools, the CAO is responsible for four main areas:
- School Quality – continuously improving the quality of instruction and school environment to enhance student learning; hiring and developing high-performing school leadership teams; overseeing the implementation of NHA programs and initiatives; monitoring the performance of each school.
- School Leadership Development – building a leadership culture throughout the NHA school network; identifying and promoting successful school leadership practices and behaviors; preparing new principals and deans to create and lead a successful school community; designing and delivering professional development for experienced principals and deans.
- Special Education – providing school-based and remote support to schools for Special Education, Section 504, and homebound/hospitalized students; maintaining compliance with state and IDEA federal regulations; supporting quality specialized programs and services; assuring special education data accuracy for internal and state reporting; developing and providing professional development to promote research-based instructional practices; collaborating internally and externally to support the goals of NHA.
- Curriculum & Instruction – providing expertise, training, and support for the NHA Classroom Framework, the Common Assessment Model, and curricular programs; supporting schools in educating students who are English learners to ensure they are on the path to college readiness.
The CAO’s ability to inspire confidence in the NHA Board of Directors through interactions, communication, and presentations as well as his/her overall alignment with the education philosophy of the organization and the Board will be key to success. The CAO will provide operational support to the schools, specific to their state’s guidelines and regulations. S/he will build systems that allow for curricular implementation and change, improving student proficiency, guiding staff and faculty development, as well as the rollout of new initiatives and improvements at struggling schools.
With at least 10 to 15 years of overall professional experience, preferably at an executive level, and the minimum of a BA, but ideally with an MBA, MPA or related advanced degree, the new CAO is currently overseeing a network and/or group of schools spanning multiple states.
Alternatively, this individual is working at the state superintendent or department of education level with a strong belief that the U.S. education system is failing children and agrees that the competitive process is the best solution for increasing performance. S/he has specific experience within urban educational settings relative to teaching and leadership to be able to develop specialized business models to recognize differences in populations, cultures, and environments, with the ability to maximize learning effectiveness across NHA’s portfolio.
The CAO will be able to approach problem-solving from a collaborative standpoint, bringing creative solutions to the discussion and negotiation experience to achieve consensus amongst differing opinions.
Specifically, the following experiences and skillsets are required:
- Organizational design and optimization capability with the ability to drive fidelity in process and tools throughout the schools, ultimately improving test results
- Strong business acumen with a track record of making fiscally minded yet impactful decisions driving to overall company goals with the ability to think and act to drive dual bottom lines – improved academic outcomes AND profit
- Understanding of pedagogy including curriculum instruction, classroom implementation, and the associated Professional Development for school-level providers in the K-12 environment
- Track record partnering with marketing to increase enrollment, significantly scale the organization through both organic growth (new school openings) and growth through acquisition with the ability to lead the integration of schools moving into the NHA portfolio
- Experience working with boards/founders with the ability to present all views on a decision or philosophy
- Regulatory environment expertise
- Background in leading both elementary and high school classrooms, resulting in credibility with school leaders, both teachers, and administration
- Compelling presenter who can easily convey to large and small audiences our NHA story
Submit your resume to April Sarraille at Knowledge Leaders.