Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Director, Waisman Early Childhood Program (WECP)

Reference ID: 2762
Location: Madison, WI
Category: Administrative
Job Type: Full Time



The Waisman Center is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about human development, developmental disabilities, and neurodegenerative diseases throughout the lifespan. One of 14 centers of its kind in the United States, the Waisman Center encompasses laboratories for biomedical and behavioral research, a brain imaging center, and a clinical bio-manufacturing facility for the production of pharmaceuticals for early stage human clinical trials. In addition to its research efforts, the Center provides an array of services to people with developmental disabilities, offers numerous educational and outreach programs to young children and their families, and trains scientists and clinicians who will serve our nation in the future.

The Waisman Early Childhood Program (WECP) is an inclusive, full-day preschool for children ages 1 through 6. Up to 1/3 of the children enrolled may have special needs because of a disability, medical condition, or behavioral challenge. WECP follows a developmental play-based curriculum; it is licensed by the State of Wisconsin, and accredited by the City of Madison and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The person in this position serves as the Principal/Director of the WECP. Under the direction of the Director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), this position provides the overall philosophical, policy, educational and program direction for WECP, and serves as the primary contact for issues regarding children's education, care and services. The WECP Director works with other departments, colleges and universities, outside agencies, professional organizations and individuals to meet the goals of the Waisman Center for service to UW students, research, teaching and outreach. The WECP Director has overall responsibility for the annual operating budget, ensuring operations adhere to state and local licensing requirements, and overseeing daily operations. The WECP Director will assist Waisman Center Principal Investigators write and submit grants to facilitate research conducted within the WECP in addition to leading the operation of the overall program. The WECP Director will supervise staff and lead staff recruitment as well as manage staff performance.

For application instructions, visit https://jobs.hr.wisc.edu/en-us/job/501851/director-waisman-early-childhood-program.


Principal duties:

Plan and implement an accredited, inclusive early childhood program (50%)

- Develop and update written and on-line materials outlining program philosophy, policy and practices.

- Implement an inclusive early childhood curriculum aligned with NAEYC standards, WI Model Early Learning Standards, and Madison City Childcare Standards; comply with State of WI Childcare Licensing Regulations; and maintain NAEYC and City of Madison accreditation.

- Administer a 4-year-old inclusive kindergarten program in collaboration with Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD).

- Work with staff to implement evidence-based practices, including (a) establishing individual developmental goals for children with and without special needs (b) translating curriculum into classroom activities; (c) establishing written systems of monitoring and documenting goal achievement.

- Ensure the financial soundness of WECP by directing WECP budgetary and financial operations. Monitor program revenue and expenditures monthly. 

- Develop and award scholarships consistent with program policy. 

- Administer annual program evaluation. Report findings to staff and families, and determine and revise program policies and practices, as needed.

- Oversee physical space and facility maintenance, upkeep, and renovations in collaboration with Waisman Center Building management.

- Expertly manage, plan for and direct program enrollment; identify creative solutions to improve enrollment and meet financial targets. Strategically market the school, building community awareness of the school and the services it provides, while nurturing vital partnerships and affiliations.

Manage a cohesive, effective interdisciplinary staff (20%)

- Provide direction and leadership for all staff.

- Instill a culture of continuous improvement and a positive work climate.

- Serve as a staff resource on child development related issues, evidence-based practices, inclusion, and classroom-based intervention.

- Conduct regularly scheduled staff meetings and participate in team meetings

- Support, monitor and evaluate staff performance.

- Recruit, hire, train, and supervise staff. Manage classroom teacher assignments, dynamically adjusting to teacher absences to assure adequate staffing levels by classroom.

- Set clear expectations and hold staff accountable by providing timely, regular feedback to staff.

- Teach staff necessary skills to be successful in their positions. Provide continuing education and professional development opportunities for all staff.

Facilitate (UCEDD) Training, Research and Outreach related to Early Childhood Education (20%)

- Develop and implement a curriculum for student trainees seeking experience with inclusive early childhood education.

- Facilitate recruitment of trainees from UW Madison and other university/college-based training programs.

- Promote research involving WECP staff, students, and families in coordination with the Clinical Translational Core (CTC) Manager.

- Promote and support inclusive Early Childhood (EC) practices on campus and in the Madison community (e.g. provide WECP tours, consultation to Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs about individual children; workshops for campus and community groups; guidance on writing inclusive policies; representation on MMSD 4K and Early Learning committees; and other partnerships as needed).

- Contribute to campus efforts to coordinate EC resources on campus (e.g. participate in UW Office of Campus Childcare and Family Resources (OCCFR) activities, University Childcare Committee.)

- Promote EC professional development opportunities in the Waisman Center and on campus through collaboration with WC faculty and staff (e.g. Early Childhood Seminar Series) and the OCCFR and MMSD (e.g. Campus Professional Development Day, 4K Summer Institute) that provide continuing education trainings related to translational research and evidence-based practices.

- Coordinate involvement of WECP leadership and staff in community early childhood organizations and activities as a Waisman Center representative and as an advocate for inclusive early childhood education with Waisman Center UCEDD Director.

- Maintain WECP website with current information regarding the WECP program.

Build relationships with parents and facilitate parent-teacher relationships (10%)

- Maintain a presence in classrooms, greeting and interacting with teachers, students and parents.

- Consult with parents on issues related to their child's development.

- Facilitate parent/staff communication and help resolve parent/staff/program conflicts

- Serve as a liaison with other school placements, as needed.

- Inform families about scholarship policies and award distribution.

- Update parent handbook annually 

- Ensure a vibrant and engaged parent-teacher organization (PTO), attend monthly meetings and facilitate PTO fund-raising, educational and community-building activities that support WECP operations.


- A minimum of 18 credits in Early Childhood Education is required for licensing.

- Six or more years' progressively responsible experience in early childhood teaching, administration, leadership, and/or supervision in an inclusive early childcare setting, i.e. one in which special needs children learn alongside typically-developing children. 

- Experience in school administration equivalent to that of Principal, Headmaster, Superintendent, etc.

- Experience with financial and personnel management, and with contract management.

- Qualifications to meet the minimum requirements for administrator or center director as prescribed by the State of Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and/or license from the State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction with certification in PK-3 or PK-6.

Nice To Haves

- Familiarity with state and university policies regarding purchasing, financial management and human resources.

- Membership in an Early Childhood professional organization (e.g. Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Coalition for Campus Children's Centers, etc.)

- Experience working with interdisciplinary staff (i.e. speech-language professionals, occupational therapy professionals, or behavior therapists) in a school setting.

- Experience performing research and writing grants.



Minimum Education: Master
Job Type: Full Time
Category: Administrative
Minimum Experience: 6 Yrs
Location: Madison, WI