NEMNET - Independent Schools

Independent Schools

Independent schools are part of the private school sector. There are over 1,000 independent schools nationwide that enroll approximately 1.5% of this country's school-age population. Independent schools are nonprofit, funded primarily by tuition, grants and gifts. They are governed by boards of trustees.

Independent schools can be coed, single sex, boarding, day, K-12, K-8 or 9-12. Schools are typically small, yet can range in size from 100 to 2,500 students. Independent schools are located throughout the country with the largest number in the East. Some schools are religiously affiliated but are fiscally independent of an organized religious denomination. Each independent school has a stated policy of non-discrimination in hiring and admissions practices.

Independent schools offer a community-oriented environment that encourages administrators, teachers, parents and students to interact both in and out of the classroom. Generally, this community spirit affords faculty a greater opportunity for creativity and flexibility than is found in typical educational settings.

Recruitment Season & Timing Having your materials in the right place at the right time is critical. Most independent schools begin their hiring efforts during January and February. On average, schools have usually filled their vacancies by June. However, positions do open up during the summer, and that is when many schools hire new teachers.

What qualifications do independent schools seek in prospective teachers?
  • Academic Background

    Independent schools look for degrees in traditional subject areas such as math, science, English, history and foreign languages. A degree in the subject you want to teach is strongly preferred and a minor can make you a more versatile candidate. Certification is not required to teach in an independent school. However, those seeking positions in elementary or physical education will find schools often look for candidates who are certified in these areas. Independent schools expect candidates to have a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale.

    Traditionally, we have seen the largest number of positions in physics, chemistry, computer science, math, biology, Spanish, Latin and French. Positions also are available in English, history (U.S. and European), vocal and instrumental music, the Fine Arts, library services, special education and physical education. Positions in English and history are highly competitive due to the large number of people who are interested in teaching these subjects.

    Graduates with majors in psychology, economics, anthropology, political science, philosophy, sociology or non-traditional foreign languages will find positions in these subjects virtually non-existent. Schools offer these subjects as electives and usually cannot offer full-time positions in these areas. A search in these areas is difficult but not impossible, provided you have the academic background to teach a traditional subject as well.

    Independent schools sometimes need entry level administrators who have experience in a college admissions or development office. Seniors who have held summer internships or worked part time in either of these offices would be considered for these types of positions in an independent school.
  • Extracurricular Abilities

    In the independent school community, most faculty members are involved in activities outside of the classroom. New teachers may be requested to coach a sport. Other extracurriculars include yearbook, newspaper, community service, outdoor education, photography and drama. Independent schools are looking for teachers with energy and enthusiasm who want to be involved in all facets of independent school life.
  • Experience with Children

    Independent schools expect to see experience with children on your resume, whether it is camp counseling, supervised student teaching, tutoring or volunteer work with youth groups. College teaching assistantships and resident assistantships also are valuable for graduates who wish to teach in an independent school.
  • Flexibility

    This is a key component of a successful job search. Generally, candidates who are willing to consider relocating for a position will have many more opportunities than those who are geographically limited. Likewise, candidates who can assume many roles are attractive to schools who have many different academic, extracurricular and dormitory needs.