The Equity Project, a charter school in New York City that will open this fall, has attracted a staff of eight accomplished teachers by offering a $125,000 salary with the possibility of a $25,000 bonus, reports the New York Times.
Founded by Yale graduate Zeke M. Vanderhoek, 32, the school is rooted in the finding that teachers are the most significant factor in student success. The Equity Project expects 120 5th graders, most of whom are from low-income Hispanic families, in its first year, with plans to expand to the 8th grade.
After a 15-month nationwide search—in which he conducted 100 personal interviews and 35 classroom visits—Vanderhoek now has an eclectic teaching staff, including several Ivy League graduates, a 30-year veteran from Arizona, and a gym teacher who once worked as Kobe Bryant’s personal trainer. Each of these teachers, Vanderhoek observed during his visits, has contagious enthusiasm and a talent for keeping students engaged. “There are people who it’s like, wow, they look great on paper, but the kids don’t respect them,” he said. Watching them teach enabled Vanderhoek to vet for qualities that he couldn’t find on a resume.
At The Equity Project, teachers will work longer hours and more days than in a typical New York City public school, and will take on extra duties since there will be no assistant principals, academic coaches, or substitutes. They can be fired at will.
Judith LeFevre, the incoming science teacher, wrote in an e-mail to the Times that she sees the school as an experiment, with herself as a subject. “This could be unsettling were it not for the excitement of working with a team of master teachers, all of whom are motivated to help every student succeed, with no excuses and no blame,” she said.
In comparison, principal Vanderhoek will earn a humble $90,000. “I have tremendous confidence that the staff is going to be excellent,” he said. “But we will see.”