Thinkery is where Austin’s children and their families come to enjoy play-based, inquiry-rich, hands-on learning experiences. We believe that innovative, play-based, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) learning experiences are a powerful way for children to develop problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and curiosity about the world around them. Our exhibits and programs encourage children—alongside their caregivers—to solve creative challenges, explore a variety of materials, and to develop new ways to complete unfamiliar projects. Through these activities, children gain the tools and confidence to develop and grow into enthusiastic, creative, lifelong STEAM learners and thinkers.
Little Thinkers Preschool is Thinkery’s research-focused, play-based, STEAM preschool, serving children ages 3 and 4. Little Thinkers Preschool provides a unique learning environment, using Thinkery’s hands-on educational approach and access to our interactive exhibits to support the development of children’s school readiness skills. Research shows that preschool play with dedicated, caring teachers builds strong relationships. Through continuous collaboration and a climate of mutual respect, Thinkery’s Little Thinkers Preschool supports social, emotional, cognitive and physical development for every attendee child. Curricula and assessment are designed in collaboration with Thinkery Connect, Thinkery’s early learning research partnership with Dr. Cristine Legare of The University of Texas at Austin, a nationally recognized expert in child development and science education, and Dr. Amy Bryan, the Director of The Priscilla Pond Flawn Child and Family Laboratory (The UT Lab School).
WHO YOU ARE
The Preschool Site Director develops, conducts, and oversees Thinkery’s Little Thinkers Preschool program, a State licensed childcare facility owned and operated by Thinkery. The program offers Thinkery developed curriculum to children (ages 3 and 4) from September through May and summer programming from June through August.
The ideal candidate will be a passionate, committed early childhood professional who understands the pedagogy and instructional practices that support early ages, particularly preschool ages 3 and 4, their caregivers, and educators, while also having business knowledge and strong management skills. Ideal candidates are inspired by the challenge of managing a preschool program that integrates early STEAM, social-emotional development- and early literacy with play- and inquiry-based learning through an Emergent Approach to curriculum design. Additionally, candidates value the benefits of a lab school model that incorporates active research on early learning with University of Texas partners. The candidate will be adept at working with colleagues across management lines to both deliver and train others to deliver the programs s/he creates. The position is full-time and reports to Thinkery’s Director of Learning Experiences and oversees preschool teaching staff and coordinates with the education team, guest services, accounting, marketing, operations, and the families enrolled within early childhood programs. With Thinkery’s Director of Learning Experiences and Associate Director of School & Gallery Education, , the selected candidate will support the strategic vision and plan for the institution’s early childhood programming.
- Direct efforts of Thinkery’s preschool program, managing personnel and overseeing administrative (including budgetary) responsibilities.
- Oversee developmentally appropriate curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation. Coach and mentor Little Thinkers Preschool staff in the delivery of designed programs and teaching strategies. Serve as and support preschool classroom educators as needed.
- Oversee daily operations of the Preschool ensuring compliance with Minimum Standard Rules of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) and Licensing laws.
- Develop, coordinate, and facilitate on-going professional development opportunities for staff throughout the year
- Consult with and observe the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Early Childhood Program Standards and Texas Guidelines for Pre-Kindergarten.
- Consistently and effectively interact with parents/guardians of prospective and current program participants.
- Assist in Thinkery’s implementation of early childhood research initiatives in partnership with The University of Texas.
- Effectively use data management systems for financial and client management purposes.
- Represent Thinkery’s key values of inclusion, excellence, respect, innovation, playfulness, cooperation, and creativity.
- Support a culture of cross organization communication, collaboration and information sharing.
KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS & ABILITIES
To perform the job successfully, an individual should demonstrate the following:
- Proven understanding of early childhood development, early STEAM subject matter, educational theories and pedagogy.
- Ability to hire, train, and nurture staff. Help them through coaching and mentorship while holding them accountable.
- Ability to steadily handle crisis situations, especially where children are involved, and immediately respond to emergency situations.
- Business knowledge and fiscal responsibility.
- Commitment and passion for the Museum’s approach to learning and inspiring others.
- Excellent verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills. Strong presentation skills required.
- Excellent time management, project management, organizational and analytical skills.
- Ability to creatively problem-solve and remain calm and positive during challenging situations.
- Must be flexible and patient.
- Collaborative and proactive team member.
- Able to handle a fast-paced, varied and busy work environment.
- MS Office Suite proficiency required.
- CPR/First aid certified is required.
- Spanish fluency strongly preferred.
- Serve as an ambassador for Thinkery in communicating and furthering the mission and goals of the institution.
- Flexible and willing to fill cross functional roles to support museum operations.
- Support a culture of cross organization communication, collaboration and information sharing.
- Schedule and availability reflects that the organization is a 7-day-a-week operation. Days and hours of work are largely Monday through Friday, with flexibility for personal needs and preferences. Periodic duties outside of/in excess of regular work week schedule during seasonal high-volume times.
- Assist in engaging and sustaining volunteers and interns through introduction, information sharing and oversight. Proactively provide support ensuring each volunteer has a productive, safe and meaningful experience.
- Ability to meet all state mandated health and background screening including fingerprinting.
- Qualifications must meet the educational and experience requirements as outlined in section 746.1015 of TDFPS Minimum Standard for Child -Care Centers and may include:
- A bachelor’s degree with 12 credit hours in child development and six credit hours in management with one year of experience in a licensed child-care center or
- An associate’s of applied science in child development or a closely related field with six credit hours in child development and six credit hours in management and at least two years of experience in a licensed child-care center
- A current Director Certification in State of Texas & thorough knowledge of Texas Minimum Standards for licensed childcare centers.
- Complies with all state education and licensing standards and maintains validation of credentials for the position (i.e. professional development, director certification)
- Valid driver’s license and reliable vehicle available for local travel.
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.
This position is active. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is required to:
- Observe and react to the needs of students, guests, staff, volunteers, and community partners.
- Move throughout the museum
- Manipulate and move components weighing up to 25 pounds, including those that may be low to the ground or above eye level
- Communicate and exchange accurate information with students and their parents/guardians, staff, volunteers, and community partners in a variety of formats including in-person, electronically, and over the phone.
- Detect and respond to safety hazards
- Regularly work in outdoor environments
- Position Specific: Conduct trainings and deliver content to groups of staff, families and community partners.
Thinkery offers competitive and affordable benefits for our full-time staff including options for 100% employer sponsored medical coverage. Our benefits package includes:
- Medical insurance options including HSA, PPO Gold, and PPO Platinum plans
- Affordable dental and vision
- 100% employer sponsored EAP, STD, LTD, AD&D, and Life Insurance.
- 2 weeks of paid vacation, 4 weeks of paid sick leave, and 13 paid holidays each year.
This job description should not be construed to imply these requirements are the only duties, responsibilities and qualifications for this job. Incumbents may be required to follow any additional related instructions, acquire related job skills, and perform other related work as required. This job description may be updated as needed.
The Thinkery is an Equal Opportunity Employer. This company does not and will not discriminate in employment and personnel practices on the basis of race, sex, age, handicap, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by applicable law. Hiring, transferring and promotion practices are performed without regard to the above listed items. All candidates offered a position will be required to submit to a background and reference checks.