Director of the Thacher Observatory

Job Summary

Visiting and Non-tenure Faculty Positions
Thacher School
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

Thacher seeks a teacher and researcher of astronomy and physical sciences for the 2024-2025 academic year. This position is a one-year sabbatical replacement role and represents an exciting opportunity to lead Thacher’s dynamic astronomy program and manage Thacher’s research grade observatory. This unique high school program allows for a wide range of student interest, ability, and commitment, from club level activities such as sky viewings at open observatory events and participation in public lectures to a rigorous physics and astronomy course sequence ending with the opportunity to engage in impactful astronomical research in transient astronomy such as our legacy programs in exoplanet transits, supernova search and follow up, and the search for electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave sources.

In addition to excellence in academics, we seek to interview candidates who are eager to engage actively in all aspects of boarding school life. This entails a commitment to residential life and advising, to athletic coaching or other participation in the School’s afternoon program, and to helping co-lead camping trips. We also seek teachers who are dynamic leaders, lifelong learners, and compassionate mentors to adolescents. 


  • Teach four sections in Thacher’s science department, including Integrated Science I (physical science) Advanced Physics, and Advanced Astronomy Research.
  • Operate and manage Thacher’s automated observatory using the Astronomy Control Panel software suite. This includes program design and scheduling, monitoring and maintaining our data reduction pipeline, data quality control, and troubleshooting hardware and software failures. Cleaning and performing standard maintenance for our telescope, dome, and other equipment will also be required.  
  • Advise a grade-level group of between 4-6 students.
  • Participate in the residential program through attendance at community dinner, evening duty one weeknight/week and approximately 6 weekends/year.
  • Participate in the afternoon program by coaching, running an activity or its equivalent for one of three seasons.
  • Partner with colleagues to co-lead two outdoor backcountry trips a year (5 nights in the fall and 5 nights in the spring).


  • Contributes to the delivery of the mission, vision, and values of the school community.
  • Builds, fosters and participates in an inclusive school community.
  • Models lifelong learning, flexibility and a growth mindset.
  • Maintains a commitment to professional development.
  • Maintains high standards of professionalism with students and colleagues.
  • Manages time effectively and meets deadlines and commitments.
  • Values collaboration with colleagues and participating actively in a community of students and adults.
  • Embraces and actively participates in signature Thacher programs including our backcountry program.
  • Exhibits flexibility and adaptability to change as needed.


A Bachelor’s degree (B.A.) or equivalent required; PhD or research experience at the university-level through advanced graduate work preferred.  Candidates should have at least two years of successful teaching experience at the secondary or undergraduate level.


A current (or ability to obtain) California driver license with a satisfactory motor vehicle record and ability to transport students in school-owned vehicles. A criminal background check must be successfully completed before employment can begin.


The physical requirements described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. As prescribed by law, reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


Final salary is based on experience relevant to the role and internal equity. Thacher offers a competitive total rewards package, which includes a 403(b) match, healthcare coverage, and a broad range of other benefits. 

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume via email to the attention of Tim Sullivan, Dean of Faculty at: [email protected]. Please include “Astronomy Faculty” in the subject line.


The Thacher School is one of the most selective and highly regarded boarding schools in the nation. Founded in 1889 by Sherman Day Thacher, the School serves academically talented students from over 20 states and close to 10 countries in a rigorous college preparatory experience. More than 54% of students identify as people of color. The faculty and students live and work closely together on a 427-acre campus nestled in the foothills of the Los Padres National Forest in Ojai, California (85 miles north of Los Angeles). Honor, fairness, kindness, and truth are the cornerstones of School life. Together, the School community commits to the belief that demands in the academic classroom, when combined with those of mountains and horses, of sports and the arts, produce independent minds, strong bodies, and powerful character. The School enrolls 250 students, has an operating budget of $25 million, and an endowment of $180 million. 

The Thacher School is dedicated to providing equal opportunities to all individuals regardless of race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran’s status, or any other factor that is a prohibited consideration under applicable law.


Compensation and Benefits

Compensation Range
$40,000USD to $100,000USD
Included Benefits

On campus housing provided. Use of all campus facilities. 

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Sep 08
Application Deadline
2023 Oct 08


Jon Swift