Since Austin Preparatory School opened its doors nearly 60 years ago, it has remained steadfast in its mission: Inspire hearts to unite, minds to inquire, and hands to serve. In the tradition of St. Augustine of Hippo (the school’s namesake), an Austin Prep education emphasizes the importance of a life in service of others, supported by the pursuit of academic excellence in the liberal arts tradition within a welcoming and close-knit community.
A coeducational institution since 1992, Austin Prep now serves 750 students in grades six through twelve from Reading, MA, and neighboring communities Northeast of Boston and Southern New Hampshire. The Upper School currently enrolls 560 ninth through twelfth graders in a rigorous college preparatory program that guides its students toward becoming lifelong learners and engaged citizens.
An independent Roman Catholic school, Austin Prep is a proud member of the Augustinian Secondary Educational Association (ASEA). Neither owned nor operated by the Archdiocese of Boston or any religious order, the School is an independent 501(c)3 recognized as a “private juridic person” in accordance with the Code of Canon law of the Roman Catholic Church. Under this status, the Head of School reports directly to the Board of Trustees and defers to the teaching authority of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston in all matters of faith and morals. Originally founded by the Augustinian Friars, the Augustinian ethos and traditions form a significant part of student life. Each day begins and ends with prayer, and faculty work hard to model the school’s values in their teaching and in the relationships they form with students. St. Augustine valued the role of community in spiritual life, and this emphasis is clearly borne out in the close bonds students, parents, and alumni cite as characteristic of their experience at Austin Prep.
The next Director of College Counseling will inherit an effective, comprehensive counseling program and a talented, high-functioning team of four. Austin Prep seeks an experienced, energetic counseling professional with a collaborative style and superior communication skills. The office will benefit from a well-rounded leader who can manage people and systems effectively, keep pace with the latest industry trends, connect easily with students and families, and bring a strategic mindset to analyzing and improving processes and outcomes.
AUSTIN PREPARATORY SCHOOL AT A GLANCE
Austin Prep’s mission is to inspire hearts to unite, minds to inquire, and hands to serve. St. Augustine is the School’s patron saint, and the school strives toward the Augustinian ideal of “one mind, one heart, intent upon God.” The Augustinian charisms of veritas, unitas, and caritas – truth, unity, and love – inspire the mission.
Accreditation, Memberships, and Affiliations
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
Augustinian Secondary Educational Association (ASEA)
National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA)
Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE)
Enrollment and Financial Aid
Austin Prep’s 750 students hail from 65 communities throughout Northeastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. The school also enrolls international students from China, South Korea and Italy. Tuition for the 2020-2021 school year is $24,100, and approximately a third of students receive tuition assistance. Students benefit from both need-based aid and academic merit scholarships, which includes the St. Augustine Scholarship – a merit-based award given to a limited number of freshmen each year.
Faculty and Staff
Austin Prep’s low student-teacher ratio (10:1) enables the formation of the close ties between students and teachers that many alumni name as a highlight of the experience at the school. Fifty of Austin Prep’s approximately 75 faculty members hold advanced degrees, and there are ample professional development funds available for continuing education. The faculty is notable for its solidarity and its commitment to the institution. The faculty have an average tenure of 16 years at Austin Prep.
Elements of The Upper School Program
As a Catholic high school guided by Augustinian values and traditions, Austin Prep’s Office of Campus Ministry emphasizes the importance of serving others in the spirit of caritas (love). To this end, all students must complete a Christian service requirement for graduation which enables them to experience and share God’s love in concrete ways through their words and their actions in ministry to others. Additional elements of the school’s religious life include an annual Blue Mass for First Responders, daily prayers, spiritual retreats, and a robust curriculum designed and taught by the school’s Theology Department.
Austin Prep views its advisory program as fundamental to student achievement, and it is often cited by parents and students as one of the school’s signature strengths. Austin Prep’s three-pillared approach, which combines academic advising, emotional and social counseling, and college counselling, enables students to develop confidence interacting with peers and teachers and to make wise and thoughtful choices in their academic and personal lives. Integrated with the life of the school, the advisory program provides consistency throughout students’ time at Austin Prep and encourages students to make the most of the ample opportunities offered by the school.
The Upper School curriculum is defined by choice. From freshman year on, students are empowered to shape their high school education with electives in each of the core subjects. As they continue through the division, their course selection broadens. Faculty offer courses that delve deeply into their own areas of expertise, presenting seminars and courses that more closely resemble college classes in their depth and specificity. Examples include Passing in Literature, Shakespeare in Film, Medical Microbiology, and Nationalism and Identity in Latin America.
ABOUT THE SCHOOL
Austin Preparatory School was established by the Order of Saint Augustine, Province of St. Thomas of Villanova, in 1961. Two years later, the Augustinians welcomed 200 freshman and sophomore boys in the school’s inaugural year, graduating its first class of 18 students in 1966. Facing dwindling enrollment in the early 1970s, the school appointed a lay Board of Trustees and became a fully incorporated Catholic independent school. In the 1980s, recognizing the importance of creating a pipeline for enrollment, the Board approved the addition of a Middle School; and in the 1990s Austin Prep began to enroll young women, graduating its first alumnae in 1996.
Today, the school’s enrollment has grown to 750 students and is split evenly between boys and girls. The past 20 years have seen expansions of the physical plant, substantial renovations of legacy buildings, and considerable innovation in the curriculum. Austin Prep undertook major capital campaigns over the past seven years to update its athletic stadium, refurbish the dining hall, and building a new baseball field and tennis courts. Other recent changes of note include renaming the MultiPurpose Facility for alumnus Richard J. Meelia '67 in 2016, which was blessed by His Eminence Sean Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston.
Austin Preparatory School’s 50-acre campus sits in Reading, Massachusetts, 15 miles north of Boston at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 93. The spacious, wooded surroundings contribute to the school’s warm and nurturing environment
In October of 2019, the school broke ground on a new athletic complex, which will include new synthetic turf baseball and soccer fields to replace existing grass fields, six new tennis courts, drainage improvements, bleachers, an electronic scoreboard, a press box, dugouts, storage facilities, walkways, and new bleachers (which will be handicap accessible and have seating capacity for nearly 200 spectators). Additional athletic facilities include the Athletic Stadium Complex, which offers a turf field, a state-of-the-art track, seating for 1,100, and a university-level scoreboard. Meelia Hall is home to the basketball court and the Nelson Athletic Fitness & Training room.
Other facilities include McLaughlin Hall, which comprises the Technology Center, the McCarthy Writing Center, the dining hall, counseling and administrative offices, classrooms, science labs, and the Chapel of St. Augustine. The Fr. Smith Library and Media Center houses more than 42,000 books and periodicals and a computer and study center. St. Augustine Hall contains conference rooms, the music and arts wings, the Murphy Art Gallery, and external affairs and facilities offices. Austin Prep’s Dance Program boasts the largest dance studio north of Boston, with a sprung floor and dance mirrors.
The Academic Program
Within the variety of courses offered, Upper School students must complete four years of English and theology, at least three years of history, math, science, world language (Spanish, French, Latin, or Mandarin), and electives, three semesters of art and design, and a freshman seminar.
Courses are classified as one of three levels: College Preparatory, Honors, or Advanced Placement. College Prep courses are designed to push students to develop an understanding of the content and skills necessary to be successful in college and beyond. Honors courses encourage students to develop a deeper, nuanced understanding of the content and skills necessary to be successful in college and beyond. Austin Prep currently offers 19 Advanced Placement courses, including Biology, Calculus AB/BC, Chemistry, Computer Science, English Language/Literature, Environmental Science, European History French Language, Latin, Microeconomics, United States History, United States Government, World History, Physics, Psychology, Spanish Language, and Statistics. In 2020, Austin Prep had 33 total AP scholars, including 21 with Honors, 28 with Distinction, and one National AP Scholar.
For more information regarding the academic program at Austin Preparatory School, including details regarding the curriculum and graduation requirements, please visit the school’s website:
Embracing the motto, “to instruct and inspire,” the art and design department makes space for students to discover and pursue their passions in the visual and performing arts and technology. Upper school students can join the chorus or band, enroll in a drama class, or take advantage of Austin Prep’s well-regarded dance program, which welcomes dancers of all experiences and abilities and offers classes in jazz, ballet, tap, pointe, lyric, and modern dance. All dancers are included in the annual production of The Nutcracker and a spring recital. Students interested in the theatrical arts can audition for the drama fest, fall musical, and spring play. Visual art offerings include studio art, illustration, graphic design, and yearbook design.
Technology is an integral part of the learning experience at Austin Prep. The school employs a 1:1 iPad program, and Windows and Mac computers are available for use in the library and writing lab. Students are provided with access and support for technology with the goal that students gain the skills and understanding they need to grow into informed and productive digital citizens. They have a chance to enrich their skills and understanding of technology with classes in Java and Python programming languages and AP computer science.
The success of Austin Prep’s athletic program is grounded in a commitment to building physical skills as well as life skills that enable student-athletes to succeed as young adults. In line with the school’s values, the athletics program’s mission is to develop student-athletes who are selfless teammates, possess an unparalleled work ethic, consistently display the highest levels of sportsmanship, and are dedicated to a common goal. A competitive athletic program, Austin Prep was honored with the Boston Globe’s Nason Award in 2018, 2019, and 2020 for having the highest overall winning average among Catholic co-ed schools in the Commonwealth
The athletics program comprises more than 50 teams in 18 sports. The Upper School fields teams in Baseball (boys), Basketball, Cheerleading, Cross Country, Dance Team, Football, Golf, Ice Hockey, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track & Field, Skiing, Soccer, Softball (girls), Swimming, Tennis, and Volleyball (girls). Students compete in the Catholic Central League (CCL) and fall under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).
Austin Prep offers more than 60 clubs and student organizations. From anime to yoga, students have a chance to form bonds with peers and adults who share their areas of interest and take on leadership roles in an appropriate setting. Those especially eager to play an active role in the life of the school can run for positions in Student Government. Each grade level elects a representative who works with the grade-level Dean to energize students, build community, and promote achievement.
Austin Prep made a relatively smooth transition to remote learning in the spring of 2020 by capitalizing on planned technology upgrades, the school’s standing commitment to professional development, and the strong rapport among faculty and students . The academic schedule was reconfigured to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of students through virtual tutorials and Zoom meetings.
Austin Prep’s distance learning program followed a modified schedule of its Advisory Program and rotating academic block schedule. Classes were 45-minutes in length and allowed teachers to interact with their students and discuss concepts, skills, and assessments as well as maintain the connections students and teachers enjoy in class. Students continue to earn academic grades and teachers are able to maintain high standards of academic performance.
All Austin Prep graduates are accepted into four-year colleges. Sophomore year, students are assigned a college counselor and launch the exploratory phase of their college selection process with one-on-one meetings with their counselor and standardized test practice. Students develop a preliminary college application list during their junior year and winnow it down in consultation with their parents and counselor. During the second semester of junior year, students enroll in a college preparatory course, which includes test preparation, essay writing, and mock interviews.
Over the past five years, Austin Prep alumni have enrolled at a healthy range of colleges and universities across the country, including leading liberal arts colleges (Middlebury College, Kenyon College, Bowdoin College), competitive public universities (The Ohio State University, University of California – Los Angeles, University of Virginia), strong regional institutions (Lehigh University, Purdue University, Elon University), and highly selective private schools (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, Princeton University, Harvard University).
Austin Prep’s college counseling office serves an Upper School population of approximately 560 students, with an average senior class of 135-145 students. The Director of College Counseling will oversee a comprehensive advisement program that reflects best practices in the industry and collaborate with faculty and administrators to ensure that the school’s program supports the interests of college-bound students.
Reporting to the Assistant Head of School, the next Director will inherit a diverse, experienced, high-functioning team of four College Counselors, two of whom are guiding the office through the 2020-21 school year until the position is filled. The current team is well respected in the Austin Prep community for their approachability, curiosity, and effectiveness.
Given the strong state of the current program, the next Director will not be expected or required to make dramatic changes or improvements in their first year on the job. However, the rapidly evolving landscape of higher education will require the Director to stay one step ahead of emerging trends, continuing to invest in professional development for the staff and nurturing strong professional networks. There will also be opportunities for the Director to improve how the office connects and collaborates with Upper School faculty and coaches throughout the college search. Software and hardware upgrades for the office are on the horizon, as well as a careful assessment of the costs and benefits of additional administrative support.
Assume responsibility for counseling students in grades 10 through 12 (and their parents) regarding the entire college selection, application and admission process.
Lead and evaluate the college counseling staff.
Coordinate the program and calendar of all standardized testing for students, including scheduling test dates, registering students, arranging for special "prep" sessions, administering the tests, and providing pre- and post-test counseling.
Coordinate Advanced Placement testing in consultation with the Head of Upper School.
Create and maintain a Student/Parent College Guide with essential dates, forms, essay samples, and other relevant information to support the college application process for families. The guide will be updated annually.
Plan and execute distinct college information nights for sophomores and juniors and their parents.
Oversee the various student award programs and ceremonies.
Help the registrar keep accurate permanent records of students' testing and academic work.
Develop and deliver the extensive summary reports on students' progress on standardized testing to the school community, as appropriate.
Conduct individual and group sessions in all areas of college counseling.
Write the school recommendation by the end of the junior year for the rising seniors who are applying to college.
Oversee the faculty writing the requested recommendations for students applying to college and facilitate appropriate professional development for same.
Maintain and expand an attractive, informative, and up-to-date College Counseling Center.
Manage visits to colleges and from college representatives.
Build strong relationships with college admissions officers and representatives.
Represent the school at relevant state and national conferences and workshops.
Generate dashboard reports for the Head of School and/or Board of Trustees.
Support the school and its leadership in advancing the mission of Austin Prep.
Austin Prep parents and students appreciate the warm, communal atmosphere that defines the school community. The new Director of College Counseling will be expected to embrace this family atmosphere, exemplify the school’s core values, and communicate effectively with all constituent groups, from parents to alumni.
WHO SHOULD APPLY
Leading the college counseling office at Austin Prep requires an experienced and self-assured leader who will develop the team and the systems necessary to serve families well, maximize opportunities for Austin Prep graduates, and counsel them to make wise choices throughout their college search.
Austin Prep seeks a Director of College Counseling who is motivated, inspirational, compassionate, and innovative. The successful candidate will be a natural leader with superior communication skills who is also organized and familiar with all aspects of the college search and admission process.
The ideal candidate will also offer the following qualifications and characteristics:
A bachelor's degree is required and an advanced degree is preferred, ideally in education, counseling, or an allied field.
At least five years of full-time work experience in college guidance at an independent school or in college admissions at a regionally or nationally competitive institution.
A strong track record of team building and demonstrated success creating a culture of collaboration and collegiality.
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, including listening, writing, and public speaking.
The motivation to develop and maintain a deep knowledge of market trends in higher education and a mastery of innovative practices in college counseling; a commitment to the professional development of oneself and their team.
A broad and deep understanding of strategies for financing higher education (scholarships, need-based financial aid, tax-exempt college saving plans, and so on) for families at all income levels pursuing opportunities at various price points.
An ability to imagine, articulate, and establish a creative, compelling, forward-thinking vision for the college counseling experience at Austin Prep.
Organized and goal-oriented; able to manage multiple assignments, prioritize tasks, meet firm deadlines, and track the progress of short- and long-term initiatives.
Positive energy and a calm demeanor.
A growth mindset; adept at inviting and receiving constructive feedback from all constituents.
A progressive, entrepreneurial spirit; eager to define and tackle new challenges.
Savvy, authentic, and trustworthy; respecting and promoting the highest ethical and professional standards on campus and in the community.
Application Requirements and Search Process
Acting on behalf of Austin Preparatory School, Wickenden Associates is actively recruiting talented academic leaders for this exciting leadership opportunity. The lead consultant is Jim Wickenden, who can be reached via email ([email protected]) or phone (609 683-1355).
Candidates should submit as soon as possible and no later than Monday December 7, 2020, an application package that includes the following:
A cover letter indicating why they are particularly interested in and qualified for the position.
A current résumé.
A statement of educational philosophy.
The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of three references. (References should be submitted as a separate document, not as part of the résumé or cover letter. We will obtain permission from candidates before contacting references.)
Optional: Other supporting material (e.g. articles, speeches, or sample letters of recommendation) that would be useful to the Search Committee.
These materials should be sent via email attachment to [email protected]. Due to the timing of this search, all candidates—particularly those who have not worked with Wickenden Associates before—are encouraged to contact Jim and initiate the application process well before the deadline.
After an initial review of applicants (on or about December 16), select candidates will be invited to interview with the search committee on January 13 and 14. Finalist candidates will be invited to Austin Prep shortly thereafter for a more comprehensive series of interviews with representatives of the school’s constituencies. A February appointment/announcement is anticipated. Wickenden Associates will keep all applicants informed of their status throughout the process.
This position description is based upon material provided by Austin Preparatory School, an equal opportunity employer.
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