Upper School Director of Wardlaw

Atlanta, Georgia
Mar 02, 2021
Apr 01, 2021
Job Function
Education / Teaching
Focus Areas
Position Type
Full Time
Degree Level
Experience Level

The Atlanta Speech School: Upper School Director of Wardlaw

The Wardlaw School at the Atlanta Speech School seeks an exceptional leader-practitioner in dyslexia and the Science of Reading to serve as Upper School Director. This position offers the opportunity to support and inspire our knowledgeable, engaged and self-motivated team of professionals, deeply committed to the work they do every day for the children in their care.  As a community, Wardlaw professionals are dedicated to eradicating illiteracy across our city and beyond and to acknowledging that each child deserves a voice, regardless of background or economic circumstances. With a conviction for social justice, this leader will share and embody the drive of all school staff for transformational outcomes and opportunity in the lives of children through language and literacy. While leading the day-to-day operation of third through sixth grade, this extraordinary educator will collaborate with the Wardlaw School’s Lower School Director on all aspects of Wardlaw programing and across all areas of the School. This person will also have the opportunity to support and expand ongoing professional collaborations in the fields of dyslexia, learning disabilities and in the research surrounding construction of each child’s “deep reading brain,” with notable thought-leaders such as Maryanne Wolf, Julie Washington, Patricia Kuhl, and others.  

Through its eighty-two year history, the Atlanta Speech School has evolved to become a comprehensive center for language and literacy – earning a rising national reputation as the educational equivalent of a teaching hospital. The school attracts a staff of highly qualified and committed teaching professionals who apply the research of leading learning and brain scientists to achieve transformational language and literacy outcomes for children through four school divisions (with Wardlaw as the largest), four clinical programs, the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy, and the free online Cox Campus. Wardlaw staff members describe the school’s culture as one that is “highly collaborative, respectful and focused on continuous professional learning.” They further define the instructional atmosphere as warm and appreciative where everyone is keenly aware of the high levels of skill and ability found in their peers — expectations are high and there is a pride in knowing the latest research and current practices (CZI case-study). The Wardlaw School, as with all of the school’s divisions and programs, works collaboratively to support our common mission of helping each person develop their full potential through language and literacy.  Throughout our programs, we are united by our common passion that literacy is not merely an educational value but an inherent human right.

While schools across the country continue to constrain teaching and learning with conformity and compliance, the Atlanta Speech School unconditionally commits instead to expand the minds of all students on our campus and across our city through listening, language and literacy. On campus and in our partner schools, we seek to recover the voices of students through relationships and self-advocacy, and liberate the hearts of students through self-reflection, critical thinking, and opportunity. To that end, the Speech School has never turned away a child in need of services based on a family’s financial circumstances.

We encourage you to watch our video, Every Opportunity, that reflects our philosophy and mission surrounding voice. You will even learn why you will never hear a Speech School teacher direct a child merely to “be quiet.” Instead, you would hear our teacher asking higher-order questions to provoke students’ deep thinking and development of empathy. That kind of thoughtful commitment not only to the development of the reading brain but to the needs of the “whole child” recently garnered us recognition by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative in its case-study of ten exemplary American schools.


The Lower and Upper School Directors of the Wardlaw School at the Atlanta Speech School creatively support all services for children enrolled in the Wardlaw School. The Upper School Director leads third through sixth grade and augments and advances the work of teachers in those levels as well as the reading teachers assigned to the Wardlaw School.

Candidates will need to possess a thorough understanding of dyslexia and related language-based learning disabilities, demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the Science of Reading, including evidence-based instruction, and hold certification in at least one multi-sensory reading methodology.  Candidates will demonstrate a thorough understanding of children’s learning profiles and psychoeducational evaluations, including academic development, cognitive processes, executive functions, and social-emotional development.

Appreciating the importance of access to specialized instruction for students with dyslexia, the Lower and Upper School Directors, in partnership, share responsibility for all services provided in the Wardlaw program and draw upon the expertise of school personnel to ensure outstanding instruction and superior student outcomes. The Director’s leadership will inspire confidence among parents, students and colleagues and honor our commitment to each child as we fulfill our mission.  School and Clinic directors report to the Chief Academic Officer and represent the Speech School and the Wardlaw School on the Leadership Team, which is composed of all School and Department Heads, the Chief Academic Officer and the Executive Director of the Atlanta Speech School.

  1. Programmatic Responsibilities
  • Develop goals, direction, and policies of the program
  • Attend regularly scheduled meetings with the Chief Academic Officer
  • Work in partnership with the Lower School Director, sharing information and planning
  • Develop and implement criteria for admissions and outplacement
  • Serve on the Admissions Committee
  • Conduct ongoing program evaluation and identification of needs
  • Plan parent and staff education programs
  • Participate in budget review and manage funds allocated to the Wardlaw School
  • Recruit and interview prospective employees

2.   Responsibilities to Parents & Students

  • Conduct orientation and parent education meetings
  • Be available for parent contacts, conferences, calls
  • Develop procedures to identify and help children who are not progressing satisfactorily
  • Observe children and make recommendations
  • Participate in discussions of outplacement and enrollment issues
  • Assist with the development and review of individual goals for children
  • Collaborate with outside professionals serving children in the Wardlaw School
  • Maintain relationships with outside professionals serving the children in the Wardlaw School

3.   Responsibilities to Staff

  • Assign staff placement and duties
  • Shepherd the planning and evaluation of curriculum and institute changes
  • Confer with teachers regarding students, concerns, and plans
  • Recommend, develop, and provide staff development opportunities that align with program needs and/or staff needs
  1. Administrative Responsibilities
  • Host weekly staff meetings
  • Plan the Wardlaw calendar to include events such as student activities, parent conference days, special events, and teacher work/planning days
  • Monitor and plan for department budget needs
  • Track data and complete yearly Outcomes Report (August)

5.  Responsibilities to the Leadership Team

  • Collaborate with other Directors within the School to establish best practices and provide best services
  • Periodically facilitate Leadership Team and Roundtable meetings
  • Be a collaborative partner in decision making for the Atlanta Speech School


Applicants should hold a Master’s Degree or higher in Reading, Learning Disabilities, Speech-Language Pathology or other related field as deemed appropriate.  In-depth knowledge in the field of reading, dyslexia, oral and written language, and learning disabilities in school-aged children is required.  Both teaching and leadership experience beyond the Master’s Degree is desirable.  Applicants should be eligible for Georgia Teaching Certification, hold certification in a multi-sensory reading methodology, and be familiar with other Structured Literacy approaches. Individuals should participate in professional organizations such as the International Dyslexia Association, American Speech and Hearing Association, Learning Disabilities Association, Council of Exceptional Children, the Reading League, etc.


Salary is commensurate with degree and experience. This full-time position offers a generous benefit package including health/dental/life/vision and long term disability insurance; the School subsidizes health insurance premiums of staff and families. Other benefits include Flexible Spending Account; 403(b) Plan; cost reduction of some Speech School services; complimentary meals during working hours; and accrued personal and sick leave.


Please provide a cover letter, resume and writing sample describing how your background and experience would be a good fit for this position and how your personal teaching philosophy would both align with, as well as extend, the mission and values of the Speech School.


Iris Goodson

Director of Human Resources

Subject line: Upper School Director of Wardlaw

The Atlanta Speech School provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as a covered veteran in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws.

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