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Founding School Leader

Nova Pioneer is looking for an outstanding culture and instructional leader to serve as the School Leader at our school opening in Johannesburg (Paulshof) in January 2018. This is an opportunity to help 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 memorising, 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.


We launched one year ago to build the first pan-African network of high-quality and affordable primary and secondary schools. In 2016 we are operating three schools—two in South Africa (Pioneer Academies)  and one in Kenya (Nova Academies) —and gearing up for rapid growth. 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.

Our team culture is designed to reinforce our vision:

  • 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


We are looking for an exceptional individual to lead our new school in South Africa slated to open in Johannesburg in January 2017. This school will be Nova Pioneer’s third school in Johannesburg which proves that it is possible to maintain an extremely high quality standard and to continue innovating as Nova Pioneer grows.

Prior to assuming the School Leader position, you will go through core training to get you ready to lead in the Nova Pioneer way -- the series of experiences will be customised based on your prior experience. These experiences include shadowing a current School Leader and gaining experience with coaching teachers using the Nova Pioneer system.

As School Leader you will play a critical role in delivering excellent education by leading school culture. Your single biggest responsibility in the school’s first year of operation will be establishing an extremely strong and vibrant school culture consistent with Nova Pioneer’s core culture principles. Over time, as this culture takes root, you will shift your primary focus to teacher development. You will help build a pipeline of homegrown local teacher talent inside the school that produces master teachers and great instructional leaders over time.

In addition to being an instructional and culture leader, you will also lead community engagement and parent partnership. You will build the Nova Pioneer reputation in the community and engage with parents to recruit students and create the best possible learning environment for every student.

Specific key responsibilities for the role include:

  • Articulate a compelling short- and long-term vision for the development of the school’s culture and program
  • Set and model a consistent tone of highest expectations, joy, and growth mindset among staff and students alike
  • Lead key school rituals as needed to model and ingrain culture
  • Quickly identify and respond to classroom/school culture or behaviour issues
  • Act as an effective leader and ambassador for the organisation
  • Coach teachers through observation and feedback
  • Partner with parents and other key community stakeholders to build the Nova Pioneer brand
  • Monitor budget and admissions pipeline
  • Plan and lead school staff meetings
  • Collaborate with fellow School Leaders in the network and ensure collaboration within the school as well


  • You have 6+ years of experience in a rigorous, high-expectations school setting including instructional leadership roles (e.g., deputy head, teacher coach, etc.). Experience as a Head of School is highly valued but not a prerequisite.
  • You are widely recognised as a highly effective teacher and can model what great, inquiry-based teaching looks like. If you don’t have teaching experience, you are instructionally passionate and have a desire to learn and entrench yourself in the Nova Pioneer approach to teaching and learning.
  • You are excited about your own professional development, always seeking out opportunities to grow, whether by asking others for feedback, forming communities of learning with other school leaders, or seeking out training
  • You have a track record of improving other people’s performance through coaching, building uncommonly strong relationships, developing creative training sessions and sharing feedback
  • A strong community leader, with the ‘head and heart’ to foster a caring community
  • 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 are excited about our organisational 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 leadership skills and apply them to transform the lives of African youth

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

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