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Fall 2024 | Late August Start Date

Bluestem Hall Nature School

Lead Teacher  


School mission: Bluestem Hall Nature School fosters rich learning, place-based literacy, and a deep and lifelong sense of belonging to the natural world through slowness and freedom. In modeling healthy relationships that establish trust of self, trust of others, kindness, empowerment, and body autonomy, our students will have the support to be their authentic selves. Please refer to our philosophy + guiding principles pages on our website to learn more about what drives our school!


Position: The Lead Teacher will be a highly qualified and driven educator ready to fill a position of leadership, guide the education of children 5 - 7 as a lead teacher, and develop curriculum and teaching practices for the school. This position is 40 hours a week with roughly 32.5 hours a week teaching and 7.5 hours a week for administrative tasks. A typical day for this position will include teaching at outdoor field stations on a 120-acre state protected prairie preserve as well as indoor classrooms in a restored 1963 machine shed. All staff must be prepared to spend the majority of the teaching day outside in a variety of seasons and weather conditions. The Executive Director will serve as the supervisor of the Lead Teacher and the Director of Education will serve as a close collaborator on teaching practices and curriculum.



  • Showcase an authentic drive to create a physically and emotionally safe learning environment for children.

  • Lead the early education of preschool and kindergarten mixed age students with both emergent and planned curricula, recognize and follow child-led interests, and lesson plan with play-based philosophies in mind.

  • Lead a classroom intentionally with open kindness, warmth, patience, and joy.

  • Lead/mentor the growth of supporting teachers, parent volunteers, and student teachers.

  • Maintain an understanding of the native species (plant, mammal, bird, insect) present in the Barnhart Prairie Preserve, as well as a basic understanding of regional forest, river, and lake flora and fauna.

  • Demonstrate the ability to establish healthy relationships with enrolled families including easy and clear communication in person, via email, and phone appointments. Understand the goal is to celebrate the small community and closeness our school has with all families but from a place of professional boundaries and good decision making.

  • Schedule and lead any additional family conferences required to meet the social/emotional/physical/cognitive needs of all students.

  • Establish individual relationships with all students to ensure you can recognize their unique form of learning and can foster custom opportunities for growth.

  • Recognize, observe, and appreciate the uniqueness of each student and support their custom needs while showcasing good judgement to loop in a student’s parents/caregivers for extra support when appropriate.

  • Create, manage, and oversee documents needed for legal purposes (student and staff files) and professional development (curriculum and education files).

  • Lead the class in executing the philosophies of the school and/or unlearning the teaching practices that do not align with the program.

  • Educate the enrolled families on the reason behind the school’s teaching practices and answer questions, either verbal or written, to provide extra information to inquiring parents including weekly written “newsletters” and daily highlights to parents/caregivers with high points from the classroom.

  • Work collaboratively and showcase the strong ability to gage, interpret, and navigate social situations with colleagues that prioritize and maintain healthy relationships.

  • Take initiative to research, read books/articles, take seminars/training in the nature-based education industry.

  • Meal plan, shop for, and prepare daily lunch and snack to ensure nutritional goals are met and prepared in accordance with Champaign County Public Health requirements. Clean and sanitize the food prep area and clean all used dishware on site daily.

  • Obtain a Food Handler’s license before the first day of work

  • Cleaning duties to restore all used spaces to the condition they were in before school may include but not be limited to: sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, surface cleaning and sanitization, arranging toys and objects, dusting, and general upkeep to maintain a presentable and clean school environment.

  • Take pride in your position as an advocate of community outreach and play a role in school events such as fundraisers, donor meetings, festivals, and celebrations both public or private, some of which may (infrequently) take place during the summer break.

  • Work with Executive Director when called to help complete the admissions process which may include but not limited to: open house for interested families, private tours, admissions meetings to meet potential families and students, one on one meeting with students.

  • Acknowledge and respect diversity and promote inclusion of all people regardless of ethnic, cultural, linguistic backgrounds, gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical and mental disabilities.



Bluestem Hall Nature School is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as a Nonpublic School. All staff will need to meet state requirements, training, and submitted documents.

  • A 4 year degree in any major is required to be a Lead Teacher.

  • At least two years’ experience working in an early childhood education setting such as a school, daycare, or camp is strongly preferred.

  • A familiarity with Illinois Early Childhood Standards

  • Must have the knowledge of principles and techniques in early childhood education and the ability to implement this knowledge through developmentally appropriate curriculum.

  • Experience working in Environmental Education is preferred.

  • An understanding of the ecology, geology, botany, and zoology of our native midwestern prairie landscape or a willingness to learn is required.

  • An understanding of our regional history or a willingness to learn is required.

  • Prior CPR and first aid certifications, or willingness to obtain.

  • Ability to sit, stand, crawl, lift children, hold children, and walk on uneven terrain will be essential. Reasonable accommodations for these physical requirements can be made to enable the right candidate.

  • All Employees must pass a background check with fingerprinting before their first day of employment


The Lead Teacher exemplifies a genuine interest in the wellbeing of children. The ability to listen, engage, teach, and communicate effectively with children of all ages and developmental levels and with the adults in their lives is necessary. Working with a small, tight-knit team of both supervisors and supporting staff will be crucial. Cultivating parent relationships and representing our program well through written and verbal communication is critical. The best candidate must show leadership to work independently and effectively guide your own students while always maintaining the flexibility to work as a cohesive team in our small nonprofit organization.


Job Type: 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 40 weeks a year (late August 2024 – early June 2025)

*some infrequent summer events and programming may be required

Salary Range: $35,200 ($22/hour) - $37,600 ($23.50/hour)

18 paid holidays + 6 PTO

Start Date: Late August 2024, exact date tbd

Contact Person: Abbie Frank, Executive Director


Address: 1401 E Old Church Road Urbana, Illinois 61802


How to Apply:

Please email us at

  1. your resume

  2. a paragraph introducing yourself, highlighting your unique interest in the position

*this does not need to be a formal “cover letter” unless you want it to be. We want to get a sense of who you are!


Non-Discrimination Statement:

Bluestem Hall Nature School will not base assignment and promotion decisions on stereotypes and assumptions about a person's race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Bluestem Hall Nature School is committed to being a site of equal opportunity for employment and education.

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