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Explore Schools Reviews

Updated January 9, 2018
39 reviews

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2.8
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Morty Ballen
12 Ratings

39 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Network Director"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Explore Schools (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    As someone who has worked in a variety of school settings, Explore Schools is a unique community where all people are valued from staff to students and families. This, combined with the small size of the network and a one-size-doesn't-fit-all mentality, allows schools to be creative in the way that they meet the needs of students and teachers. At the network level, we are able to work together, respond to feedback, and problem solve quickly while making sure that all constituents are able to provide input..

    Cons

    The network does have less money than larger Charter Management Organizations which can result in fewer resources and lower salaries. However, we are working to manage funds in a way that addresses this problem.


  2. "No Rose-colored Glasses"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    Opportunity to reach and teach high need children

    Cons

    Unorganized
    Incompetent lower school management
    Lack of teacher coaching

  3. Helpful (1)

    "stressful and Never complete"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Explore Schools full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Nice people to work with. Felt like you were truly part of a team. Great supervisor who did his best to support me in my role while trying to tackle the many duties under his title and position. Schoolwide Shut downs were always a pleasure and much needed. Salary was nice.

    Cons

    Never felt like you ever fully completed any given task within the expected time frame even taking work home with you or stating additional hours. Day starts at 7:20am. You check emails and voicemails. Respond back to as many as you can before the students arrive at 7:35am. This is only if there is not an AM huddle. You do your best to complete as many task as you can before lunch/recess because they have an all hands on deck policy so everyone has lunch/recess duty. This takes a large chunk out of your time frame when you could be working on other things more important. Long hours. Not that you were demanded to stay but with all the little meetings/ PD's team huddles AM & PM, you had no choice but to stay and put in ten and eleven hour days. Ambiguous duties sometimes are given and you are left to try and figure it out as best you can because EVERYONE was clearly over worked. Students that required more support and a stricter environment based on their IEP (i.e. 12:1 or 8:1) were placed in general ed classrooms with an ICT teacher. NOT THE SAME THING. This resulted in behavioral issues that impeded teachers ability to complete lessons and teach material in a timely manner leaving children ill prepared for state testing resulting in low and failing grades and exposing children to behaviors that were unsettling to say the least.

    Advice to Management

    My advice to management. Look into changing the structure from a top down organization to a bottom up organization starting with the children, the teachers and then management. This makes teachers take more pride in their teaching and students will take more pride in their education. This is a structure that gives children more of a role in their school and education. Children need to be heard and feel they are important. Stop focussing on the dollar and focus more on support for the teachers in dealing with classrooms that have way to many students. Look into Smaller class sizes. Yes I know this will totally affect the bottom line but education can't be measured by how much you get per child but more by how many children leave your institution prepared for a preparatory high school as your mission statement expresses.


  4. "Culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Explore Schools full-time

    Pros

    teachers and staff receive extreme support with projects/lesson planning, instruction and classroom culture.

    Cons

    The work hours and load are tough. Teachers and staff need to be proactive and utilize the structures in place.

    Advice to Management

    Continue providing positive culture


  5. Helpful (1)

    "These are failing schools."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Explore Schools full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Will provide scholarships or give days off for professional development

    Cons

    - Highly unprofessional work environment
    - Unqualified leadership
    - Lack of support
    - No training or coaching occurring
    - No real structure for students which results in egregious behavior issues
    - 6 days of PTO/sick days/personal days

    Advice to Management

    Structure is too top heavy. Many in leadership have vague titles and it's unclear what they actually do/if they actually do anything. Teachers' voices and opinions need to be valued more and teachers need to be treated as though they are professionals. Teachers also need more support as many do not have a time to eat lunch during the day.


  6. "Conflicting priorities; tone-deaf CEO"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher
    Current Employee - Teacher
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Explore Schools full-time

    Pros

    Great staff members and teamwork. People tend to stick together when facing adversity. School-based leadership is always willing to lend a helping hand.

    Cons

    There are too many priorities, and they are ever-changing. Teachers do not get adequate prep time or a consistent lunch (some days you do not get a lunch break). Teacher turnover is high, and network leadership appears not to care about this. The turnover affects school culture negatively- students do not trust new teachers, thus driving them away. Teacher voice is strongly discouraged, and many who are truly invested are either driven out or leave out of frustration.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your faculty- give them real voice to affect positive change. Create a sustainable work environment to retain teachers. This will create consistency and will improve school culture.


  7. "Wonderful kids, wonderful staff!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Explore Schools full-time

    Pros

    -Lots of PD
    -Students are great
    -Great colleagues who help each other out
    -Friendly work environment
    -Nicer, more understanding leadership than other places

    Cons

    -Sometime the PD is too much
    -Workload too big
    -People leave after only 1 or 2 years

    Advice to Management

    -Figure out how to make people stay
    -More work/life balance

  8. Helpful (1)

    "I enjoy working here"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Explore Schools full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Teachers have a lot of independence and can make decisions about what is best for their students. The network is small and very personal. Students are generally treated with love and respect and are happy at school. In the 3 years that I have been here, my school has steadily improved the experience of both students and teachers. There is a lot of room to grow in the network and they like to promote from within. Most expectations for teachers and students are rigorous but not overwhelming. Staff members (instructional and otherwise) care deeply for the students and their families and work hard to get results.

    Cons

    There is a lot of staff and student turnover. The hours (7:30-4:30) are long, though not compared to larger charter networks. The summer is short (6 weeks). Depending on the situation, professional development can be inconsistent.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "A really great place to work!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Current Employee - Teacher in Brooklyn, NY
    Recommends

    I have been working at Explore Schools full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I will start by saying that I certainly have learned a lot about education and how to manage a classroom with my time here with Explore Schools. I started here straight out of a masters program with no real teaching experience other than student teaching. It was here with Explore that I learned that my masters degree was simply a piece of paper and it was on this job I began to learn everything I needed to know as a teacher.

    The staff here is absolutely wonderful. I have made so many friends outside of my classroom and people are really there to pick each other up. The teaching model is really great with the focus on small group targeted instruction so students are really getting what they need at all times of the day. There is a huge push for literacy which this population of students really needs the work with, and I have personally seen it pay off. Our families are mostly really invested in their child's success and I have personally had a fantastic turn out around parent teacher conferences and parents frequently asking what they can do to help their child. It really creates a community where kids are eager and willing to learn all the time. I can't say enough about our students here. They are really the reason I come back here day after day year after year. They have some of the biggest hearts and really do want to learn. You definitely have to work hard here, but anyone who made the decision to be a teacher already knows that.

    Cons

    The hours are long, but quite frankly you will find that in just about every charter school across the city. the student hours are from 7:30-3:30 and teacher hours are 7:30-4:30. Its a rough day, but you will definitely make more $$ than a DOE teacher but you will need to work longer.

    The pre-service is really rough too. 2-3 weeks of preparation before the school year starts is a bit much, and for teachers who have been teaching for a few years at the school should not be mandated to have to attend such long sessions. For new teachers I find it essential. I do not know where I would have been as a first year teacher if I didnt have those 2 weeks before school to prepare myself. Also the turn over is really high, its very hard to come back year after year with so many new faces.

    Advice to Management

    First year or under-performing teachers should have a much closer eye on them than experienced teachers. Experienced teachers should not always be held to the constraints of staying until 4:30 each day, and be held responsible for getting their work done on their own time.


  10. "Former Teacher"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Explore Schools full-time

    Pros

    Caring staff, extremely thoughtful about fostering learning.

    Cons

    Hours could be long at times but the result was that kids were learning and growing.


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