Ambassador School of Global Leadership

701 South Catalina Street - Los Angeles CA - 90005
Type of autonomy arrangement: Pilot Schools
Basic Profile

Opened In






District - Pilot


Determine learning program
Set school-level policy
Determine professional development
Determine authorizer assessments
Determine state assessments


Select colleagues
Evaluate colleagues
Transfer or terminate colleagues
Determine tenure policy
Select leaders


Determine school budget
Set staff pattern
Determine compensation
Determine teacher workday
Set schedule
Teacher Authority Is...
De Jure and De Facto

De jure authority is granted to the school governing board via the pilot agreement, which is in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between LAUSD and UTLA. The MOU gives the board authority to make decisions in some areas. De facto, the governing board transfers this authority to the teachers, who collectively make decisions in areas indicated. In addition to the MOU, teachers collectively write an Elect to Work Agreement (EWA) for their site on an annual basis that outlines the working conditions at the school that are different from those outlined in the collective bargaining agreement between the district and union. For example, they can expand their own work hours, require participation in school events, and expand professional development requirements. This is a means to exercise more autonomy at the school level, at the will of the teachers. Teachers at the site vote on the terms they outline in the EWA, and anyone who does not agree to work under the conditions will enter the district’s hiring pool and default to the working conditions outlined in the existing collective bargaining agreement.

About the Learning Program

Ambassador School of Global Leadership (ASGL) is a teacher-powered LAUSD pilot school located in Los Angeles. ASGL is one of six pilot schools co-located on the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools site. The school was founded by a team of teachers in 2010.

Facing teacher layoffs and leadership turnovers
During their first few years, ASGL was confronted with budget shortcuts and hiring freezes. Teachers were displaced and others left due to the uncertainty. Additionally, teachers who remained faced frequent leadership changes with three principals in the past nine years.

Despite these challenges, ASGL has been able to keep the school’s vision and learning programs alive. Here are three lessons they learned and want to share with us.

Lesson 1: A strong and meaningful vision and mission have the power to unite veteran and new staff.
A school’s vision does not need to be created from scratch to be strong and meaningful. The founding teachers used the vision and frameworks from the International Studies Schools Network because the organization provided values (i.e. student outcomes, curricular framework, etc.) that were well developed and relevant to the ASGL community and teachers. The commitment of ASGL’s teacher team kept their vision alive and ensured that the students had continuous access to exciting experiences, such as visiting Italy and Korea or hosting international students from China despite transitions of formal leadership.

Lesson 2: A living document that states the teachers’ roles and responsibilities ensures that the right people join the team.
As a pilot school, ASGL teachers sign an Elect to Work Agreement (EWA), a contract that specifies teachers’ roles and responsibilities. The document gets reviewed, revised, and voted on by the teacher team every year. Before teachers are hired, they review the document to see if the school is right for them. New hires must understand that ASGL is a teacher-powered school and there are responsibilities beyond the classroom. Regardless of changes in teachers, the EWA ensures that every classroom lives the values (i.e. student choice, authentic tasks, and global relevance) that define the school.

Lesson 3: Teacher-powered teams foster mentorships and strengthen the school community.
ASGL starts the summer with a week-long summer institute led by their teacher-powered leadership team. New teachers start the year building relationships and developing a sense of community. Throughout the year, all teachers join one or two teacher-led teams or committees, which provides opportunities for teachers to learn more about the school and help shape the school’s next phase. The teacher-powered teams have been instrumental in ensuring the teachers get to exercise their autonomies to develop innovative student-centered programs.