Posted May 01
We are hoping to hire for a position starting in August of 2020. We are looking for someone who is interested in a long term commitment to the school and farm. Accordingly, the person would begin as a general staff person through the fall semester, teaching classes and learning the routines and philosophy of the school. They would have some opportunities to work alongside the current farm coordinator to familiarize themselves with the land and infrastructure. Starting in January 2021, this person would begin full responsibility for the farm and garden.
Description of school
Arthur Morgan School is a small, alternative boarding and day school for 27 students in grades 7-9. Our 100 acre campus, located in the Black Mountains of North Carolina, consists mainly of woods and meadows, with creeks and a pond; it is surrounded by National Forest and the intentional community, Celo. The school fosters a loving, energetic living/learning community dedicated to supporting individuality while teaching group cooperation. A balance is sought between academics, outdoor activities, and meaningful work. Experiential learning and responsible participation in community are emphasized throughout. Boarding students live in homes with two or three staff members, and the entire community actively shares work, study, play, and decision-making.
General Staff Responsibilities
It takes a lot of energy to work here. We have intense work schedules--usually 60 plus hours per week. Our work calendar generally follows a conventional school year calendar, with some additional work required during students' breaks. AMS is staff-run by consensus; we have no director or head-of-school. All staff are expected to attend our two weekly staff meetings, two of our four Board Meetings, and to participate in running the school cooperatively. Everyone is also expected to attend our weekly student-run All School Meeting and to participate in work projects with the kids. Most of the staff is also involved in planning and leading backpacking/outdoor trips, our 18 day field trips, and any other special field trips or projects/activities we might plan to do.
Farm Coordinator Responsibilities
The primary responsibility is to manage the AMS farm and garden program to supply food for boarding houses, staff members, and school cafeteria. We have a one acre organic vegetable, herb and flower garden; 100+ shiitake logs; several fruit trees; a variety of berries; three acres of pasture; a root cellar; a passive solar greenhouse; and a 60’ hoop house. Our livestock program includes a milk cow, laying hens and honey bees year round. We also raise turkeys (and sometimes meat chickens, pigs, or sheep) for in-school processing and consumption.
The coordinator looks after all the needs of the animals, plants, buildings, tools and fields of the farm. This includes but is not limited to: cultivating, fertilizing, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, preserving, mowing, feeding, breeding, slaughtering, pruning, building, small engine repair, and caring for the sick or wounded. The farm coordinator can expect some participation from other staff and students during weekly work projects, and is responsible for coordinating and teaching towards these efforts.
The farm coordinator is also responsible for teaching student “internships” during the fall and spring units. These 5 week classes typically consist of 2-4 students and both engage students in the meaningful work of the farm and explore academic topics inspired by that work.
The needs of the farm are not seasonally in-sync with the school calendar. Therefore, the Farm Coordinator generally takes most of their annual time off during the winter months (8-10 weeks between Thanksgiving and before field trips leave in mid-February). They work through the spring and summer breaks, supervising the hiring and labor of a Summer Garden Intern—a three month intern position.
During the school year, the Farm Coordinator participates in the rest of the Down-at-School staff responsibilities like attending staff meetings, supervising students during free times, and supporting school events, but goes on fewer trips, due to the daily needs of the farm and the attending challenges of getting complete coverage in the absence of the Farm Coordinator. They should expect to spend about 10 hours a week during the school year in additional work not related to the farm: cooking a meal, teaching a class, mentoring students socially or academically, etc.
You must be committed to alternative education; be interested in learning; enjoy being around teenagers; be able to work cooperatively with other adults; and enjoy a simple lifestyle that includes physical work and outdoor activities. Experience in the position for which you are applying is an asset. Willingness to learn about and work within the consensus process is essential. Flexibility and a sense of humor are also very important. We ask for at least a two year commitment from new staff members, as it takes a year for new staff to become acclimated to our program.
Staff receive room and board, and a salary of about $16,000. Most staff members have been able to find affordable health care through the ACA, and we commit to ensuring that staff’s health care needs are met.
Please send a resume with a cover letter to stating why you want to work at AMS, how AMS fits into your on-going interests, and describing any relevant past experience. We typically review resumes and letters of interest every few weeks and phone interview several persons chosen from the pool of applicants. After a positive phone interview, we invite applicants to interview in person on our campus for two days and two nights. This visit includes time for both formal and informal interviews with applicants and includes the opportunity for applicants to work with students and staff as we progress through our daily schedule. During this process we are interested in staff and student interactions with and observations of the applicant, and we are interested in the applicant's questions and observations of our program.
* NOTE: Because of COVID-19, we may not be able to have you visit campus right away.