Leading at Achievement First: Overview of the Achievement First Principal-in-Residence Program 

The principal-in-residence program is a two-year program that supports future school leaders in their development as they prepare to become a principal.  Principals-in-residence have leader positions at AF schools where they learn from talented mentor principals, and also participate in a network-wide cohort that gathers for skill-building, excellent school visits and best practice sharing throughout the year. 

The program is grounded in several core beliefs:

  • School leaders learn best by doing the work of leading schools. For most of the residency, the principal-in-residence works as an essential member of the leadership team as a dean of students and culture or academic dean in a host Achievement First school. The principal-in-residence has clear and significant responsibilities for both instructional and school culture leadership in his/her host school.  
  • School leaders learn best through mentoring and feedback in the context of their everyday work.  The principal and regional superintendent of the host school mentors the principal-in-residence and the residency centers around these relationships and model of support.  These coaches provide regular support to the principal-in-residence as they navigate the many challenges of leading a school.  Principals-in-residence receive intense individualized attention through coaching and real-time feedback.  
  • School leaders learn best when they apply the lessons from leadership development workshops to their work in schools.  The principal-in-residence program links the skill-building of session workshops to principals-in-residences’ everyday work as school leaders.  For example, if there is a cohort workshop focused on facilitating high-impact professional development, principals-in-residence will be asked to plan, facilitate and reflect on a professional development session in their school.
  • School leaders will be prepared for running a school when they invest significant time in the details of getting their school ready.  During the second year of the program, the residency provides intensive cohort and individual support to principals-in-residence for getting their future schools ready.  Principals-in-residence engage directly with their regional superintendent and other senior network leaders to create plans for different aspects of their schools.  Time set aside for this purpose increases gradually throughout the year.  By the end of April, principals-in-residence are focused full-time on preparing for the upcoming school year.  Most principals-in-residence will spend May and June preparing for their schools to be ready for the upcoming school year. 

Phases of the Principal-in-Residence Program:
Phase One:  Academic Year of 2017-18

  • Attend new staff trainings.
  • Work as an essential member of a school leadership team.
  • Participate in a 360 feedback process and reflection.
  • Align on goals for the year with host principal, regional superintendent and the director of principal preparation.
  • Clarify school roles and responsibilities so that you are both making a big impact on the placement school and targeting your own growth areas.
  • Create an individualized learning plan and receive targeted coaching from mentor principal and director of principal preparation.
  • Build essential leadership mindsets and skills through principal-in-residence cohort workshops and excellence school visits
  • Assess progress on your leadership effectiveness at checkpoints throughout the year

Phase Two: Academic Year of 2018-19 August – April

  • Work as an essential member of a school leadership team.
  • With the support of the Principal-in-Residence cohort and regional superintendents, plan the core practices of your future school over the course of the year  
  • Meet regularly with your regional superintendent for targeted leadership coaching 
  • Work with Team Recruit to recruit a top-notch team of deans and teachers.

Phase Three:  Academic Year of 2018-19 April – July 

  • Work intensely with regional superintendent to finalize and execute on a comprehensive school readiness plan.
  • Lead school events such as family chats and orientations.
  • Prepare for onboarding your team

Skills and Characteristics

  • Strong instructional, classroom management and discipline skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Proven track record of meeting extremely high standards for student achievement
  • Relentlessness and willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure success
  • Team player
  • Willingness to aggressively seek administrative certification 
  • Belief in the Achievement First mission and educational model
  • Maturity, humility, strong work ethic, sense of humor, and “roll-up-my-sleeves” attitude

Educational Background and Work Experience

  • A bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 3.0 from a competitive college or university is highly preferred, a master’s degree is preferred.
  • Successful experience leading adults
  • Four years of urban teaching experience with a track record of high student achievement 
  • CT: If not currently certified, obtaining necessary Connecticut certification in specific subject and grade level is required within the first two months of employment.  
  • RI: If not currently certified, obtaining necessary Rhode Island certification in specific subject and grade level is required within the first two months of employment. 
  • NY: If not currently certified, a commitment to obtaining necessary New York certification is required.


Salary for this position is competitive and commensurate with experience. Additionally, Achievement First offers a comprehensive benefits package.

To Apply:

While applications will be considered on a rolling basis, deadlines for rounds of interviews are listed below: ​

First Deadline: Monday, October 24

Second Deadline: Monday, January 16

Third Deadline: Monday, March 13

Fourth Deadline: Monday, April 24

Achievement First is an equal opportunity employer and an organization that values diversity. People from all diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. Spanish language proficiency is a plus. You can learn more about diversity at Achievement First here:

Meet Some of Achievement First's Employees

Marissa G.

Dean of School Culture

It’s Marissa’s job is to ensure that everything at school is running smoothly, from breakfast to dismissal—all with the goal of creating joyful places where kids love to learn.

Dennis W.


An aspiring teacher, Dennis is proud to be part of the Teacher-in-Residence program at Achievement First, working specifically with the fifth grade History Department.

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