Position Description

Innovative school seeking innovative leader. Mount Vernon Presbyterian School is accepting applications for the position of Head of Upper School (Available June/July 2014). Head of Upper School reports directly to Head of School and collaborates with Chief Learning and Innovation Officer and School division leaders.

Mission and Vision

We are a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact. Grounded in Christian values, we prepare all students to be college ready, globally competitive, and engaged citizen leaders. Established in 1972, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, serving 900 students in preschool through grade 12, is located in the heart of Sandy Springs, Georgia within the metropolitan Atlanta area. Located on the 30-acre Glenn Campus, the Upper School (grades 9-12) student body has more than doubled in size during the last five years and is projected to exceed 300 students in 2-3 years.

We are building something exceptional here. The School is in the midst of a new era of exploration and innovation, under the guidance of an energized staff, Board, and faculty leadership as well as committed and connected families. As an outward expression of our inward passion, the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan is driven by a fundamental MVPS question: How might we innovate school to meet the needs our students and our world? The School has been aggressive in launching key programs to position our students as realizers of our mission: Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation (MVIFI), Mount Vernon Mind, Council on Innovation, Center for Design Thinking, Innovation Diploma, Interim international travel opportunities, transdisciplinary education capstone project, College and Work Readiness Assessment, Write Now, and //fuse to name a few.

Roles and Responsibilities

Amplifying the mission and executing the vision of the School, Head of Upper School plays a creative and collaborative role:

  • cultivating and nurturing strong relationships within the School community–students, faculty, parents and other partners.
  • designing a vigorous, relevant, and innovative learning and assessment map for each Upper School learner–students, as well as faculty.
  • employing a variety of evidence-based and innovative approaches and methodologies in order to engage and motivate students of this generation.
  • exercising an innovator’s DNA–observing, questioning, experimenting, networking, and associating.
  • providing professional learning opportunities supporting individual staff needs/organizational goals.
  • co-chairing Research & Design (R&D) teams.
  • developing partnerships with corporate sector, non-profit community, and civic organizations.
  • researching, identifying, and advancing innovative programs.
  • retaining and attracting high performing teaching candidates.
  • overseeing the day-to-day operations–schedule, meetings, events, calendar, and facility spaces.

Interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume, and link to professional portfolio to employment@mountvernonschool.org.

How to Scale #202

jbrettjacobsen —  March 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

bio-th-ken-kayKen Kay, Chief Executive Officer of EdLeader21, joins Design Movement to share his leadership platform for implementation.

1. adopt your vision
2. create a community consensus
3. align your system
4. build professional capacity
5. focus your curriculum and assessments
6. support your teachers
7. improve and innovate

EdLeader21 is leading a movement, joining public and independent school leaders committed to 21st century education. Educators from around the country are collaborating around the 4 Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity) creating rubrics and performance tasks.


The Wrong Bet #201

jbrettjacobsen —  February 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 7.38.02 AMHow might being born into a Chinese peasant family foster a global entrepreneurial mindset? Find out in Season 2 of Design Movement as the podcast opens with an innovative, provocative, thoughtful educational researcher and leader, Dr. Yong Zhao, Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon.

I first met Yong Zhao at a conference in the fall and had the opportunity to engage with him about the future of education. He left me when some memorable quotes…

“faster you give answer to kids the faster you kill their curiosity”
“if you are not entrepreneurial, you are waiting someone to hire you”
“if you want to be managed, you are not employable”

Yong Zhao’s work has focused on the “implications of globalization and technology on education. He has designed schools that cultivate global competence, developed computer games for language learning, and founded research and development institutions to explore innovative education models. He has published over 100 articles and 20 books.”

In this episode, we discuss his latest book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, and dialogue about the missing link, the wrong bet, alternate paradigm, Lady Gaga, homogenization…enough of the tease…enjoy episode 1 of season 2.

Enjoy the Ride

jbrettjacobsen —  January 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

This is the final blog in “What does your mission require of you?” series. Starting with questions, serving the team, never creating for today, shipping ideas lose significance unless you enjoy the ride. Opportunities, challenges, setbacks, moments of acceleration, resistance, and success are an inevitable part of fulfilling your mission and executing on your vision.

Enjoy the ride is about having fun.

Enjoy the ride is about embracing whimsy. Bob Goff in Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, says “Don’t be afraid to embrace whimsy. Whimsy is the nagging idea that life could be magical; it could be special if we were only willing to take a few risks.”

Enjoy the ride is about savoring the moment. @JeffGoins tweeted out a nice challenge for us…”If I could choose ONE WORD to define your new year, it’d be this: ‘savor.’ As in, everything. Savor it all, every moment.” Jeff also says, “Many of us fail to recognize that the best moments are the ones happening right now.” So true.

Enjoying the ride is placing your palms up. Instead of closed fists, Dweck’s work on growth mindset is essential…always willing to learn, grow, and develop.

Enjoy the ride is showing up. On behalf of our students, let’s go do stuff together. Let’s go do stuff that matters. How might we make a dent?

We get one shot at today. We don’t get it back.

Enjoy the ride.

Ship an Idea Now

jbrettjacobsen —  January 10, 2014 — Leave a comment

In the fall, I began to post a blog series around “What does your mission require of you (students, faculty/staff, parents)?” Entering the spring semester of the school year, this is a great time to reflect on the question. If you missed any of the series check out…

Start with a powerful question
Serve the team
Never create for today

Your mission/destination/desired result is a non-negotiable imperative. It is why you exist, what you do, how you behave.


The fourth installment of this series focuses on shipping ideas. Inspired by Seth Godin and his work–Purple Cow, Linchpin, Icarus Deception, Poke the Box, shipping ideas is about making it happen, launching something, taking initiative, being bothered by something, not worrying about perfection. Shipping is about paying attention to your intention.

What ideas are we trying to ship? They are built around three critical commitments:

1. designing and demonstrating 21st century learning

2. connecting and collaborating locally and globally

3. investing and impacting the future

To ship requires you to think about the destination (mission), driver (student), routes (learning outcomes), mode of travel (approach, method, process), and navigation system (assessments).

To ship requires partnerships. Partnerships are central to the future of any school’s ability to transform learning in a relevant and applicable educational experience; to amplify and accelerate growth from innovative experts in the business community, nonprofit organizations, and the education sector; and to be a contributor in strengthening the local community and assisting in global needs.

To ship requires imperfection. So many times in the education sector, we feel compelled to ship perfectly designed, well packaged ideas. Anything less than this, we drop it and move onto another idea we will never ship. As Seth would say, “In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tiredfigures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he’s tired. Everyone is. That’s not the point. The point is to run.”

How might we impact our students today? Ship now, ship again, ship with them, ship tomorrow, let students ship, ship again…keep shipping.

Glad the Wright Brothers shipped an idea. Saved me a great deal of time traveling from Georgia to Texas over the holidays.

Happy shipping in 2014.

Mount Vernon: Accelerating Innovation from Mount Vernon on Vimeo.


Mount Vernon Presbyterian School will launch a new program, PlayMaker, in the 2014-2015 school year. PlayMaker is an innovative program designed to allow students to explore their questions, passions, or interests in an experiential, engaging, and fun learning environment. During the school year, PlayMaker takes place in the PM, after school, and in the summer months, Summer PlayMaker will have opportunities for students throughout the day.

Available June 2014, Mount Vernon is currently accepting applications for the 12-month position of PM Program Designer.

Position Description

The high-performing position of PM Program Designer plays a strategic leadership role in advancing the mission of the School:  We are a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact. Grounded in Christian values, we prepare all students to be college ready, globally competitive, and engaged citizen leaders.

Design Role

  • Collaborate with ELC, Preschool, Lower School, Middle School (5-6 only) to develop learning experiences and offerings for students
  • enhance existing after school/extended day/summer programs aligned with vision of the School
  • create new programs designed for creating, inventing, experimenting, and playing
  • create market strategies to promote PlayMaker program within MVPS community during the school year
  • create market strategies to promote Summer PlayMaker in Atlanta

Administrative Role

  • supervise entire PlayMaker program
  • be familiar with Bright from the Start licensing standards
  • retain and evaluate the services of appropriate staff to organize and run programs
  • oversee all communication with parents
  • create and maintain all records as required by the School
  • collaborate with CFO to develop a budget, oversee billing process, and ensure the profitability of each program

If interested in applying, send a letter of interest/resume and email employment@mountvernonschool.org.

Recently, Mount Vernon’s work of innovation has been highlighted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Huffington Post, and Education Week. As Head of School of a high performing staff, I am proud of their work, agility to fail up, and willingness to share the well. Take a look and let us know what you think.

The “open classroom” concept: This isn’t your parents’ school

Making education more like real life through design thinking

Taking a relationship-centered approach to education

Must schools be these horrible, boring places? Apparently yes. It’s in their DNA.

Never Create for Today

jbrettjacobsen —  September 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Part 3 of What does your mission require of you? blog series

Preparing students to be college ready, globally competitive, and engaged citizen leaders, our mission requires us to never create for today.

For what are we preparing our students? The future. What is the future?

How might we understand the future? What is emerging?

How might we deal with the drivers of change? What are the disruptive shifts reshaping the workforce landscape? What are the skills needed to adapt, adjust to changing a workforce?

What are the signals we need to be paying attention to and how can these signals forecast the future?

I have more questions than answers, but it is important we look to research organizations as a means to position this generation for the future. The Institute for the Future (IFF) and the Horizon Report are great resources for companies/organizations/schools.

As an exercise, take your leadership team and reflect on the Institute for the Future’s forecasting of Workplace 2020 or watch the Future of Coordination.

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 12.49.40 PM

How might we think differently?

How might we never create for today?

This generation of students does not have time for adults to catch up. It is time to do something.

Serve the Team

jbrettjacobsen —  September 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

Continuing “What does your mission require of you?” blog series…Summarizing last week, a team must start with a powerful question. Central to design thinking, Mount Vernon is starting with “How Might We?” HMW evokes access, opportunity, empathy, community, limitless opportunities, creative thinking, solution seeking, and much more.

In addition to starting with a powerful question, our mission requires us to serve the team. As a school, we have three distinct groups–students, teachers, parents–with different needs and expectations. You cannot serve the cause (mission) without serving the team.

Serving the team is about…

understanding one another.
encouraging one another.
supporting one another
asking the question, What can I do to help?
taking strategic risks.
differing well.
What is like being on the other side of me?
you and I versus the problem.
leveraging our authority for the benefit of those we serve.
assuming the best.
building community.
commitment to the growth of people.
emulating the greatest example, model and teacher of servant-leadership,Jesus.

How might we serve the team?