Upward mobility

'I have many opportunities to learn and grow at this organization'

Mastery Charter Schools

 For a sense of just how hard a teacher's job is, consider that those at Philadelphia's Mastery Charter Schools have their boss looking over their shoulders eight to 10 times a year for formal in-class evaluations - and they're grateful for the critiques.

In our survey, they graded their organization the best in the region as a place for employees to learn and grow.

That's by design. Mastery's founder, Scott Gordon, who has an MBA from Yale, "firmly believes in talent development," said Courtney Collins-Shapiro, innovation officer for the celebrated (by Oprah, among others) charter-school operator. "We model private-sector practices."

Teachers also have a professional-development session built into their weekly schedules. Newbies get three weeks of orientation in August, plus six weeks of one-on-one coaching. Classroom teachers with an aptitude for running things can serve an apprenticeship designed to help them become principals.

Mastery has 450 employees in the region. It plans to hire 180 to 250 faculty and staff members a year for the next three or four years, "so there are huge opportunities for growth from within," Collins-Shapiro said.

What employees said:

 "The opportunity to take on additional responsibilities has really allowed me to grow as both a teacher and a leader."

"I love that anyone is welcome to observe another teacher for ideas and to use the strengths of others."

"I did not have my teaching certificate before I came to Mastery. Since being here I have completed my master's degree in special education and have been certified. I am also in an apprentice program that is offering me the opportunity to move into a principalship."