Executive director of a Hebrew immersion school.
Jason Lody, who has worked in all of these positions, is a testament to what he preaches: “There is no such thing as traditional career path,” he told a packed room of YEP-DC members at the organization’s premiere event, Edu-Jobs, last week.
Lody said the idea that job-seekers need prescribed degrees or work experiences no longer holds true; instead, hiring managers in schools, districts, and state departments look for skills. “Education and the landscape of education has gotten to be so exciting,” Lody said, “it’s adjusted our perspective on what we look for.” The question, for example, isn’t whether the applicant worked in an elementary classroom, but whether that candidate’s previous experience working as an office manager demonstrates her abilities to lead a classroom and connect with students, parents, and the community. “Sure, you need to know content … but you also need to know theatrics,” he said. “And you need to know theories of leadership … but you need a personality.”
After Lody’s speech, the Edu-Jobs event included small, breakout sessions with 20 different facilitators. Attendees—many job searching, networking, or simply contemplating the next career move—chose facilitators to meet and speak with. The facilitators, from schools, districts, charters, think tanks, advocacy organizations, nonprofits, and government jobs, doled out advice for networking, job searches, and potential opportunities in the area. In Lody’s group, he told YEP-DC’ers about the challenges of opening a new charter school (ensuring special education compliance, developing a tiered and appropriate discipline plan, and using a governance and finance structure that promotes transparency and accountability). He also offered strategies for being a good leader: “You’re not going to be liked and that’s OK.” And, he says, a work/life balance is possible and necessary in schools.
YEP-DC thanks the American Federation of Teachers for donating the space to host this event.
Layla Bonnot is an education policy researcher with a focus on K-12, state-level issues. She can be reached at laylabonnot(at)gmail(dot)com.