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Academic Director, Secondary Education

Pioneer Academies is looking for a superstar educator to lead the design and roll-out of our elementary school model across our school network in South Africa and Kenya. This is an opportunity to create a transformative school model with the future of Africa’s youth at stake.

Imagine a world in which every young person in Africa attends a school that truly sets them up for success in the 21st century. A school that demands excellence, helps students learn by doing and exploring rather than by memorizing, equips students with globally competitive science and technology skills, and builds the character and growth mindset that will shape the rest of their lives.

Now imagine that this school is not in one town, in one country, but in every town, in every country. This is what we imagine, and we want you to help make it happen.


In 2014 we launched a new venture to build the first pan-African network of high-quality, affordable primary and secondary schools. This year we will be operating six schools—two in Nairobi and four in Johannesburg—and gearing up for rapid growth, initially across East and Southern Africa and eventually across West Africa as well. Our venture is structured as a social enterprise to enable us to attract the investment that will be needed to launch 100 schools and reach tens of thousands of students in the next decade.

Africa has the fastest-growing youth population in the world and a rapidly expanding middle class, but its education systems are not ready to unleash what could be the transformative generation of talent that permanently changes the face of the continent. We aspire to be among the first to show at scale that this is possible.  

We have a unique, entrepreneurial work environment with a strong team culture that is designed to reinforce our vision. The core elements of our culture include:

  • We model the growth mindset we want our students to embody: you are challenged every day and, as a result, you grow more than at any other point in your life
  • We pursue excellence in every detail and do whatever it takes to produce great work quickly
  • We are radically open: we share tough messages and our own vulnerabilities because doing so helps us grow
  • We put our students before our team, and our team before ourselves
  • We bring infectious energy, enthusiasm and fun to everything we do because joy fuels the hardest work and learning


You will be the chief architect of our learning design, curriculum, assessments, and professional development for teachers and instructional leaders across secondary grade levels. We are looking for someone with a vision for combining inquiry- and project-based learning with consistent execution of intentional systems that drive consistently great culture and rigorous learning at scale. The role is based in Johannesburg, South Africa with periodic travel to Kenya.

Through a combination of supervision and coordination you align the actions of everyone delivering teacher coaching, writing curriculum, developing school leaders, and building vibrant, joyful school culture across our elementary schools. A separate team—which will draw on your advice and input regularly—will have primary responsibility for ensuring smooth school operations. A role identical to yours will also exist for Pioneer’s ‘primary school’ model (grades 1 through 6) and you will collaborate closely with that individual as a thought partner and peer.

Most importantly, you will help create a professional development "machine" to make large-scale delivery possible: systems through which Pioneer teachers and future school leaders get higher-quality and more intensive on-the-job coaching from coaches and peers than they have ever experienced before.   

You will also:

  • Develop and align all program staff behind a vision for the future--and relentless improvement--of Pioneer’s secondary school model;
  • Help build the network-level academic team that develops curriculum and professional development content for teachers and school leaders;
  • Directly coach key school-level instructional leaders to help them improve their teacher coaching and culture leadership skills; 
  • Lead the design and development of teacher training resources;
  • Contribute to the design of Pioneer's professional development pathway for future school leaders;
  • Oversee the design of curriculum and assessments, drawing on appropriate existing curricula and assessments as starting points where possible;
  • Assist in the recruitment and selection of all secondary school instructional leaders to ensure that we have high-caliber leadership in our schools;
  • Find ways to remain directly involved in the learning experience at Pioneer schools through teacher coaching and model teaching in order to stay connected to the student experience over time; and
  • Cultivate relationships with thought leaders and advisors in secondary education both locally and internationally.


  • You have 5+ years of instructional experience in a rigorous, high-expectations school setting—including at least a few years at the secondary level, ideally you have had experience as a School Leader 
  • You have held at least one instructional leadership or coaching role and have a track record of improving other people’s performance through coaching
  • You have an exceptional ability to think strategically and yet you sweat the small stuff—people see you as unusually detail-oriented and conscientious
  • You know how to develop creative and rigorous curriculum that produces distinctive learning outcomes and can demonstrate this through example products
  • You are driven by data and know how to use data from student assessments to strengthen and differentiate student learning
  • You are excited about our organizational culture—and in particular, you are fired up to challenge yourself by embracing mutual vulnerability and a firehose of feedback
  • You have a desire to further develop your instructional leadership skills and apply them to transform the lives of African youth

Does working at Pioneer Academies excite you? If you’re a great fit, we will drop everything and call you immediately. 

Please note: Where a copy of your resume is required, copying and pasting from a formatted document e.g. Microsoft Word® may not result in the formatting transferring correctly to the final resume. You are encouraged to attach your resume in Microsoft Word® or PDF format to protect formatting.

Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the right candidate is identified. Only qualified candidates will be invited for interviews. 

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