Careers & Opportunities

The Empowerment Zone is hiring a diverse team of dynamic, collaborative, and dedicated individuals with an unyielding belief that every child will succeed. If you are an educator who is passionate about transforming education and ready to join a team that is on fire to make change together, this work is for you. 

Why work in the Empowerment Zone?

  • Compensation: We’ve provided the highest teacher base pay increase in St. Joseph county in the past decade and now offer the highest starting salary in St. Joseph county at $44,880. We value teacher experience and training and increased base pay for teachers with 12 or more experience by $8,000 and also offer them a $5,000 stipend. We also offer a $5,000 stipend to teachers who are certified to teach English Language Learners. At Navarre and Coquillard, we also offer certified staff a $5,000 stipend. And, certified special education teachers can earn a $10,000 stipend as well. For hourly staff, we’ve set a new minimum wage of $15 per hour, which is like $2.50 more than most places.

  • Whole Child Education: We believe in providing a whole-child education. Our wrap-around supports for students, including additional staff such as social workers and Peacebuilders as well as proactive support systems, ensure they’re ready to learn, which positions teachers for better academic success.

  • Curriculum: We support our teachers by providing high-quality curriculum and instructional support.

  • Instructional Support: Our teachers are critical to school transformation. We support the ways you are directly and positively impacting students each day, and ensuring all students in our schools succeed. One of the ways we do this is through our investment in instructional coaches, which are at each school and provide additional support to all teachers

  • Teacher Voice: We want to hear your voices and perspectives, because teacher voice matters, and leads to better outcomes for kids. We’ve created stipended teacher leadership teams at all schools to drive work forward.

School Year 2022-2023 Elementary School Openings

School Year 2022-2023 Middle School Openings

Harrison Elementary School

Karla is a school leader who knows the power of an equitable education. Her passion and dedication to public education on the Westside of South Bend is visible to parents, students, and the diverse community. As the Principal of Harrison Elementary School with The Empowerment Zone, she approaches the needs of the community with passion, drive, and compassion. In her 26 years of education experience, Karla has held positions as a South Bend School middle school teacher, administrator, and director. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s College, Indiana University of South Bend, and the TRIO/Upward Bound Program at The University of Notre Dame. Her leadership expertise also includes Curriculum Design, Instructional Coach, Professional Development Facilitator, Adverse Childhood Experiences “ACE’s” Participant and Master Trainer, Teacher and Administrator Evaluation Design Team Member, and Talent Recruiter.

As she is completely dedicated to the academic growth and achievement of marginalized students,  Karla believes her experience, training and education will assist her with ensuring the Empowerment Zone community WIN! She will continue to build a strong team and lead with collaborative coaching strategies.

Karla D. Lee was born and raised in South Bend, IN. She has been married to her husband for 27 years. In fact, they were high school sweethearts and both alums of Harrison. They are the proud parents of three adult men who decided to return to South Bend and continue their professional careers. Karla is a second generation graduate of South Bend Washington High School. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Bethel College, and Indiana University of South Bend where she received her Master’s Degree in Education and K-12 Administration. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership and Superintency at Indiana State University.

She is also a community and school volunteer. She is a current member of the South Bend Alumni Association, South Bend Washington Athletic Booster Club, and Past President of the Football Booster Club. Athletics is a strong part of who she is. She believes in creating competitive athletic opportunities for students to build character, discipline, and self-esteem. She is a life-long fan of the Chicago Bears and University of Michigan football. She is an annual participant/volunteer of the March of Dimes Walk for Children and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Karla also participates in several other volunteer initiatives as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. South Bend Alumnae Chapter.

Karla is relentless in ensuring equitable access to high-quality public education and being the voice for all children. Karla pursues all opportunities for students to expand their thinking and gain exposure to 21st Century skills and high demand careers. She attributes her longevity as a public school educator by leading with her church’s mission statement: “Affect the World One by One.”

Warren Elementary School

Growing up in a family of seven brothers and sisters in Chicago gifted me with deep family roots and insight into the power of grit in setting and fulfilling lifelong goals. These experiences instilled in me a strong desire to care for others, which led me to pursue a career in teaching. While raising my own family, I obtained my bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University, balanced several out of state moves, and began my professional career. We settled in South Bend where I have spent 27 years with the South Bend Community School Corporation. During my time at Marquette Elementary, Studebaker Elementary, and Nuner Fine Arts Academy I taught first through fourth grades. This is where I found my true calling—serving economically disadvantaged students in Title I schools. I worked diligently to meet the needs of my students both academically and emotionally by creating a classroom filled with joy, rigor, and acceptance.

Twice I was elected Teacher of the Year by my colleagues and earned recognition in the school corporation’s Honors Group. For several years I served as a model classroom teacher, welcoming educators from across the school district to observe balanced literacy at work. This work ignited my desire to have a deeper impact on student achievement and teacher practice. I went on to earn a master’s degree with a focus on literacy from Bethel College. I left the classroom to support teachers as a curriculum coach and data coach for several years. I found this work satisfying but hungered to have a greater impact on the entire school community. I returned to Bethel College and earned my administrator’s license, which brought me to Warren Elementary School where I am proud to serve as school principal.

I am excited to lead a school in the Empowerment Zone! We have an incredible opportunity to have a life-changing impact on our students. Every student can learn when they are provided with a positive learning environment, a challenging curriculum, and a school community that is committed to supporting them to discover their dreams and fulfill their potential. Together, we can make a difference by understanding our students’ needs, using data to drive instruction, and directing resources to help every child reach our high expectations. Staff members at Warren Elementary School have a “whatever it takes” attitude in our relentless pursuit to support our Warren Wildcats!

Wilson Elementary School

I was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana.  School was not always my favorite place to be.  My early grade school years were challenging as students and staff did not look like me. It wasn’t until my 4th grade year until I felt accepted.  My 4th grade teacher reached out to me and worked hard to not only build a relationship with me, but with my mother as well.  As our relationship grew, learning became easier for me.  I trusted my teacher and wanted to learn all she had to offer. It was then that I knew that I had to be in the field of education to make an impact on a student and their family’s life just as my 4th grade teacher had. 

Through many roadblocks and challenges, I went on to receive my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Indiana University, South Bend. After receiving my teaching license,  I taught 5th grade for three and a half years before being promoted to Dean of Students. Within a year, I was then promoted to Assistant Principal and then quickly promoted to Principal two years later.  Today, I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University. Balancing everything has been both challenging and exciting. This is a learning experience that I will never forget.  I am able to achieve my goals through the grace of God and through making relationships building a top priority.

Outside of work, I love to travel with my husband and four boys.  I also love to bake every weekend for my family, including my 7 month old granddaughter.  I take great pride in being a part of the South Bend Empowerment Zone and I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the community I call home.

Coquillard Elementary School

Teachers selected to work at Coquillard next year will receive their base pay and a $5,000 stipend. The school has been removed from collective bargaining and discussion for the 2020-2021 school year. For more information, please read this FAQ document.

Navarre Middle School

Teachers selected to work at Navarre next year will receive their base pay and a $5,000 stipend. The school has been removed from collective bargaining and discussion for the 2020-2021 school year. For more information, please read this FAQ document.