Middle School Program Assistant

Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM), a project of the Art of Problem Solving Initiative, Inc., is seeking a Middle School Program Assistant. You'll be part of a close-knit team helping exceptional young people to achieve their full potential. The Middle School Program Assistant will coordinate classes, mentoring, and other opportunities for middle school students who've been to BEAM's summer programs, as well as organizing a network of math teams in middle schools across the city. You will also be present in the students' lives, providing individual guidance as students seek out new opportunities and navigate the end of middle school and beginning of high school, and you will help develop programming to keep alive the vibrant community that students experienced during the summer. 

About the Program

Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM) helps underserved students with talent in math enter a realistic pathway towards becoming scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and programmers.  Led by staff with these same technical backgrounds, BEAM believes that pathways to STEM careers are created through access to advanced work beyond what's usually taught in school. The program has been running in New York City since 2011 and is opening in Los Angeles this year.

BEAM's model includes intense academic summer programs for middle school students (following 6th and 7th grade) and year-round support through to high school graduation. Our goal is to be there for everything the students need, replicating the same (or better) support that an affluent family would be able to provide. In addition to teaching academic content, bringing students into an intellectual community is a key part of our mission and all of our work is designed around that goal.

As BEAM's year-round support has grown, it has become more and more important to provide a consistent experience for our students as soon as they finish their summers with us, and also to provide support (such as math teams) in schools for students who cannot travel. This programming now includes weekend classes in enrichment math, algebra (for students whose schools do not offer it), and preparation for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT); special weekend events; customized support for entrance into various summer programs and selective high schools; and mailed-home math problems to keep students mentally engaged.

Your Role

We are a small organization with a startup mentality.  We all take on a variety of different tasks in order to make the program run, and everyone both contributes to program administration and does direct work with students. Any list of responsibilities will necessarily be incomplete (and evolve over time), but your responsibilities will likely include:

  • Running BEAM's Saturday classes for 8th graders, including:
    • Teaching one of the tracks of Saturday classes (enrichment math, algebra, or SHSAT). 
    • Assisting in the hiring of and managing of additional teaching staff (including TAs).
    • Supporting the teaching staff and overseeing the program.
    • Following up individually with students to maintain consistent attendance.
  • Coordinating math teams in partner middle schools, including:
    • Running training sessions for coaches.
    • Maintaining the curriculum materials.
    • Coordinating volunteers and checking in to ensure their team is successful.
    • Running a BEAM-only math contest once per year when all the teams meet up.
  • Ensuring that students successfully apply to academic summer programs to continue their growth, by running events and providing individual mentoring.
  • Supporting the high school admission process for our students.
  • Maintaining an individual relationship with all of the 8th-graders and their families.
  • Supporting BEAM's work preparing summer programs and other events for students, and possibly serving as a deputy site director during the summer.
  • Supporting our other work in the BEAM office.

In summary, your responsibility is to keep our 8th graders engaged and support their success. Their engagement will open up doors for them in the future and also keep them actively involved with BEAM's work as they grow, enabling our staff to continue helping them through all the way through the college admissions process.

We will customize other responsibilities to your particular skill set.  As a part of our office staff, you will also have the opportunity to work with our older students, assist with admissions, or help BEAM out in other ways, depending on your time availability.

Qualifications

Above all, we're looking for people who make things happen and who do it well, who love working with kids, who work well independently, and who are devoted to the work that we do. It is much more important to us that we hire someone with the right approach than someone with a particular background.

That said, we expect that anyone who is ready for this role will have:

  • A college degree, ideally in a STEM field,
  • An ability to balance logistical details in your head (or on paper!), think through eventualities, and plan ahead,
  • A love for helping others and guiding them to success,
  • An ability to quickly bond with students and get them to work with you,
  • The persistence and social fearlessness necessary to keep in contact,
  • Organization and the ability to develop a project on their own,
  • Strong communication skills (including verbal and written),
  • Strong computer fluency,
  • The ability to motivate people to aspire to more, and
  • A real dedication to helping each of our students.

Significant pluses may include:

  • Experience with underserved students,
  • A strong teaching background,
  • Experience with enrichment activities such as math circles or math contests,
  • Fluency in Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, or another language commonly spoken in New York City, and
  • More advanced mathematical training. 

We're especially looking for someone who can inspire our students to strive for more and motivate them to work with us. Everything else fits into that goal.

Salary, Benefits, and Other Details

Salary will be between $40,000 and $50,000 per year, depending on experience and qualifications. BEAM provides a number of benefits, including health, dental, and vision; pre-tax commuter benefits; and discounted health club membership.

We provide 8 paid holidays and an additional 15 days of paid time off (which includes both vacation and sick days; we do not distinguish between the two). Paid time off will increase by one day for each year worked for your first five years of employment.

One unique aspect of our organization is our highly-flexible work policies. Time off is very flexible and it is easy to work from home so long as you are keeping up with your responsibilities. Many of us shift our work times (doing work earlier or later in the day) to gain flexibility during the day to take extra time for appointments or errands. However, please be aware that this position will require regular weekend work (likely Saturdays) based on BEAM's events for students. Other BEAM staff have taken Sunday and Monday off, but there is flexibility in deciding your weekly schedule.

As an organization, we are dedicated to the growth of our staff members. We will pay for training to supplement your skills when appropriate, and we encourage all of our staff to learn from each other. (We are, after all, an education organization!) Many of our staff train to become site directors during the summer and this is a path you might consider following.

In general, we are all very dedicated but also very relaxed, and we care deeply that the work environment is pleasant for everyone.

The start date is flexible, but a good target might be between June 1 and July 1. This will allow you to get to know our summer programming (and see where your students started their journey with BEAM), while also giving you time to meet many of the middle school students you'll work with.

Application Process

To apply, please e-mail us a cover letter and resumé. We would also appreciate it if you can include an example of a favorite math problem appropriate for high school students. For the math problem, you are welcome to simply link us to an online resource. (Please don't spend significant time preparing this. We only want a sense of your mathematical taste!)

We believe in the importance of demonstrated ability and work samples. Approximately 3-4 applicants will be chosen for the second stage, where we will ask you to complete sample projects to show us your work. From there, some applicants will proceed to an interview which will be the final step of the hiring process. We work hard to recognize the time you put into the process and we won't load you down with any useless bureaucracy.

We will accept applications on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Finally

We believe strongly in communication and collaboration. In the spirit of that collaborative atmosphere, we strongly encourage you to ask questions about the position!

We're very excited that you're interested in the program. Thank you for applying to BEAM.

Sincerely,
The Entire Staff at BEAM