Job Opening: Staff Position at The Open School

The Open School is seeking to hire a staff member in a self-directed, democratic school, situated in Santa Ana, California.

Position Summary

The Open School staff members work directly with students and take on specific responsibilities to keep the school running. We hire staff rather than teachers to emphasize that adults are not automatically teachers and that people learn from each other in complex ways. The Open School staff are not responsible for creating activities for students to pursue and do not have the authority to unilaterally establish or enforce rules. Staff at The Open School are available as role models, facilitators, and peers as students pursue their own interests.  

There are numerous ways that staff interact with students ranging from tutoring in a specific subject, playing games (computers, cards, sports), working on collaborative projects, building things, going on field trips, cooking, producing plays to playing music, etc. Staff are expected to act as dependable stewards of the school; facilitate student access to resources; exemplify mature practice of personal fulfillment and societal engagement; and anchor school culture to values of interpersonal respect. 

Staff also support all areas of school operations from ground maintenance to budgeting. Most work is done from Monday through Friday, 9am-4:30pm, but there are times when staff will need to work outside of those hours, such as a weekend event or an evening meeting.

In addition, staff will be engaging in our virtual program on a regular basis. This may include taking part in activities, meeting one-on-one or in a small group with students virtually, and holding any number of meetings online. Staff will also be expected to pursue relationships with parents, holding regular conversations and meetings with them to deepen the parents’ understanding of and relationship with the school.

A successful candidate demonstrates: 

  • A solid grasp of the school’s educational philosophy and practices, and a strong commitment to them  
  • An interest in and/or prior experience in one of the key management areas of the school’s business i.e. Business Management, Marketing and Public Relations, Finance, Building Management and Maintenance, IT Management and Maintenance, Supporting Learning  
  • Continued striving for personal growth, open to learning and being challenged to grow
  • Passion and engagement with personal interests  
  • Responsible, respectful, professional and mature adult behaviour at all times, able to hold personal boundaries
  • Safety consciousness and commitment to understanding and complying with all school laws and policies  
  • Strong communication and literacy skills, including the ability to express thoughts in writing, tailor communication with students of different age groups and developmental levels in a respectful, egalitarian, and non-patronising manner, and interact effectively with people of all ages and backgrounds  
  • Strong self-management skills, including high levels of initiative, excellent time management and efficiency, and the ability to effectively balance day-to-day operational responsibilities with availability to students. See what needs to be done, and do it 
  • Reliability and punctuality
  • Ability to work well in a group decision-making organization
  • Commitment to creating a space for a variety of voices and backgrounds, without advocating for an agenda or bringing in personal, political, or religious views when working with students
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality of student and family data, as well as to keep a constant eye out for the protection of student privacy in less formal ways
  • Ability to work with neuro-diverse population 
  • Where applicants have a background in education they will be required to demonstrate why they have chosen to move away from mainstream practice  

Beneficial Experience:

  • Experience of a democratic education environment would be highly beneficial whether as a student, staff member or in another capacity 
  • Experience of Self-Directed Home Education or Unschooling could also be beneficial as demonstration of an understanding and commitment to student directed learning 
  • Working with children ages 5-18 in any capacity 


 All staff candidates should share these commitments:

  • Personal responsibility and sustainability of the school
  • Diversity of student and staff population
  • Economic access for all who feel the school is right for them
  • Deep belief in democratic, “free” or “Sudbury-model” education. Staff at The Open School uphold this model of education, and are not “testing the waters” or “seeing if it works”
  • Ongoing personal and professional growth
  • Continuous personal education on democratic education, Sudbury schools, youth rights, etc.


Upon hiring, staff members are considered “fellows” for a period of at least 3 months and no more than 1 year. During the fellowship period, they are compensated at $18/hour while they complete their training to become a full staff member. At the end of the fellowship period, the successful candidate will receive a vote of confidence from the School Meeting and earn the title of Staff Member. At this time, a staff member earns $20/hour.  Currently, staff are paid during the school year (approximately September 1st – June 15th). A full time staff member is scheduled to work 35-40 hours per week. 

The Open School is committed to increasing staff wages significantly each year to meet our goal of paying $45,000/year with benefits by 2026.

Benefits include:

  • Paid time during school holidays and breaks (other than summer break)
  • Paid time off ranging from 70-105 hours/year depending on the number of years employed. Unused PTO will be paid out at the anniversary of the date of employment at the current hourly rate
  • Sick pay of 15 hours/year
  • “Name your own tuition” for staff children enrolled in The Open School (range of 0 – 50% of high end of tuition)

Application process:

Full or part time positions available.

Interested applicants should submit a resume, cover letter and three references to [email protected].

The cover letter should include information about your background knowledge, research, and experience in self-directed education environments. Include how long you have been interested in this type of education and why you are committed to it. Also, please share your weekly availability and what time commitment you are willing to make.

Along with this, please send a 3-minute video that explains who you are and why you would be a good staff member. 

Upon receiving an application, the process is as follows:

  1. The applicant will have a Zoom interview with the HR Committee chair. 
  2. If recommended by the chair, applicants will be invited to visit the school and participate in an interview with our hiring committee of students and staff. 
  3. If recommended by the committee, the School Meeting will vote on permitting the applicant to spend a trial period on campus. The length of this period depends on the number of hours the applicant will be working (i.e. full time applicants will be required to spend 35 hours on campus, applicants interested in working 21 hours/week will be required to spend 21 hours on campus, etc)
  4. If approved by the School Meeting, the applicant will be required to complete their trial period on campus after passing a background check with the Department of Justice
  5. After the trial period, there will be an additional interview with the HR Committee
  6. If recommended by the committee, the School Meeting will vote on hiring the applicant as a fellow
  7. Upon completion of the fellowship period, during which the fellow completes training as deemed appropriate by the HR Committee, the School Meeting will vote on whether or not to retain the fellow as a staff member with a 1 year contract.