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Our Academic Philosophy

We believe a child’s mind holds endless potential, and that makes early education a time of enormous opportunity. But it also raises an important question—one we know that looms large for parents: what kind of foundation will serve them best in the lifetime that follows? Cornerstone is a preschool, K-5 elementary school, a K-5 after school program, a 6th-10th grade evening program, and a summer camp, united by a shared goal: instilling in each student four fundamental values:

 
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Bilingualism and a Multicultural Perspective

There may be no skill more fundamental to success than one’s ability to communicate, so it’s no surprise that children exposed to multiple languages during the first crucial years of their development reap benefits throughout their lives.  In the words of Gigi Luk, an associate professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, “bilingualism is an experience that shapes our brain for a lifetime."

Cornerstone leverages the power of immersion to help students achieve a natural fluency in Mandarin Chinese. For most of our programs, in fact, it’s our only instructional language. In the case of our full-day K-5 program, we follow a dual immersion school model that makes command of two languages, Mandarin Chinese and English, an explicit goal. In both cases, however, language is presented as a fundamental part of the learning process.

 
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Self-Discipline

Balancing a complete elementary school education with immersion in a second language is a worthy goal, but a challenging one as well. Beyond the traditional requirements of attendance and passing grades, we expect each student to exhibit a willingness to work hard, a clear sense of goals, and the endurance to maintain effort until it’s achieved. Our instructors work closely with each student to unlock their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

It’s ultimately the students' own investments that will determine their success. This attitude is reflected in the collaborative nature that defines our teaching style, such as a preference for open discourse to one-sided lectures. It’s our goal for each student to feel like the co-owner of a journey they aren’t simply following, but sharing with their instructors.

 
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Critical Thinking Skills

A language is a window into a culture, and the more one speaks, the more perspectives they have. That’s why we believe bilingual education isn’t just an advantage in communication, but thinking as a whole; it’s a continual reminder that no point of view sees the entirety of any issue, that all perspectives have blind spots, and that the most complicated truths in life are often the most rewarding—whether in overcoming an intellectual challenge or simply navigating a career, family, or relationship.

The concept of critical thinking was first identified over 100 years ago by the American philosopher, John Dewey. In his book titled How We Think, published in 1910, Dewey presented what he called "reflective thinking" as the "active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it leads."(Dewey, 1910, p. 6)

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High Academic Achievement

At Cornerstone, dual-language immersion isn’t just a class, but an environment in which mathematics, science, music, art, and even physical education are explored. It’s a vigorous and stimulating learning atmosphere in which teachers engage students with challenges that empower them to consider, connect, and construct their own personal system of knowledge gathering and retention.

This is why we believe our fourth value—high academic achievement—isn’t so much a goal of its own as it is the inevitable conclusion of the first three. Although we pride ourselves on a carefully assembled team of thoughtful, engaging instructors, their talent shines the brightest when applied to students with the advanced language skills, capacity for critical thinking, and self-discipline that we’ve designed our school to foster.

 

Principal's Welcome​

Dear families,

 

Welcome to Cornerstone! My name is Helen Wong and I am the school’s principal. I am excited to meet you and understand how we can best help your child grow into a skilled and confident bilingual student.

 

I began my career as a Chinese teacher in Fujian, China, before moving to Yew Chung International School in Hong Kong. I then moved to the Bay Area in 2001 and worked for several years at Yew Chung’s Silicon Valley campus as a Chinese teacher, Chinese departmental director, and vice principal.  I served as principal at the Wellspring International School before opening Cornerstone. Cornerstone began in August 2010 at a family home in Los Altos with three families and two teachers, including myself. Our programs quickly expanded and we moved to Palo Alto in August 2010. Today, we are a lively and diverse community of over 250 students and 30 staff.

 

My philosophy of education is similar to my philosophy of life itself: it’s a journey to be experienced, both with respect to the individuals we meet along the way, and the world at large. Each student is an individual on a path of their own, and we strive to foster that individuality. At the same time, however, we live in a shared world, and our contributions to that world must be informed by an understanding of it. Education, therefore, must reinforce both the individual and collective sides of each student’s identity.

 

At Cornerstone, our mission is to cultivate a learning environment where students are motivated to discover themselves and then expand to understand their fellow students and the world that surrounds them. Through the platform of bilingual education, we aim to help students grow into self-disciplined critical thinkers. We are proud to offer a range of programs that cater to all ages and levels of learners, from our Mandarin Kids preschool to our advanced Thursday Night Program. I welcome you to use the information on this site to explore which program(s) will best suit your child.

 

Warmly,

Helen Wong, Ed. D.

Principal

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Meet Our Faculty & Staff

We use each student’s perspective as a teaching tool, providing them with quality experiences that promote intellectual and creative growth. It is the teacher’s responsibility to guide the student in their use of observation and judgment and to exercise the student's intelligence. Our version of learning is problem-based and collaborative rather than didactic and imposed. Open-mindedness, respect, and empathy are very important in order to facilitate our student’s learning. We encourage students to be true to themselves and unafraid to express their feelings in an effort to establish a rapport with others. Our teachers consider issues from others’ standpoints, and accept others for what they are in a non-critical and non-judgmental manner.

 
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Ms. Chen earned her master’s degree in Chinese Philology from Shanghai Normal University. Ms. Chen obtained her Chinese Teaching Certificate in 2011. Before joining Cornerstone, she taught in a public elementary school in Shanghai.

Ms. Chen is committed to making every lesson interesting, exciting, and meaningful. In her spare time, she likes to do yoga and jog.

Ms. Chen
Teacher

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Mr. Chen
Teacher

Mr. Chen graduated from San Francisco State University with his master’s degree in Education, concentrating in teaching Chinese as a second language. Before coming to the United States, Mr. Chen was a certified Chinese teacher in China. He has over 18 years of experience in teaching students individually and in group classes. Mr. Chen is an experienced, self-motivated, confident, and open-minded teacher.

"I am interested in teaching language with songs and rhymes because I believe music learning matches the speed and effort of language acquisition."

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Ms. Chen
Teacher

Ms. Chen graduated from Sichuan Normal University with a Master's Degree in English Language and Literature. She holds a teaching qualification certificate from China. Ms. Chen has taught college students in China, and to elementary school students in the U.S. including the Chinese immersion class. With over 6 years of teaching experience, Ms. Chen is dedicated to helping students grow academically and socially in a friendly atmosphere.

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Ms. Chen
Teacher

Ms. Gao completed her master's degree in Foreign Language Education, specializing in teaching Chinese, at the University of Pittsburgh.

"I strive to be a lifelong learner, and I am especially interested in design. From designing interactive language activities, program curriculum, or worksheets, to organizing local field trips or school exhibit reading corners, each activity leaves me feeling fulfilled by how my work affects the students and their learning environment. This is how they make me a better and happier person.""

Ms. Chen holds her master’s degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in religious studies. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Jilin Normal University and majored in Chinese Language and literature. Before coming to Cornerstone, she worked in Guoerluosi Mongolian Middle School (K6-K8) as Chinese teacher for five years and has been working as a head teacher for four years. She is fond of being with children and enthusiastic about teaching. 

“I believe that everyone should has his own way of thinking and reasoning, I encourage my students to be open-minded, to solve problems from different perspectives. I always have the feeling that teaching is not only beneficial to the students, but also the teachers.”

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Ms. Fu
Teacher

Ms. Fu earned her bachelor's degree in Chinese Linguistics and Literature from Shenyang Normal University in Shenyang, China. She earned her master's in Second Language Teaching at California State University, East Bay. Ms. Fu aims not only to improve her students’ reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills, but also strives to motivate them to become lifelong learners.

"My students inspire me, especially when they ask questions. I really admire their curiosity and bold ideas. I enjoy listening to their funny, creative, and unique questions, which motivate me to learn along with them. Students remind me that our world is so big. Being curious about the world extends our views."

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Ms. Gan
Teacher

Ms. Gan is earned her master's degree in Child and Adolescent Development from San Jose State University. She is passionate about spreading the Chinese language and Chinese culture to the next generation, as well as integrating Chinese traditions with modern educational theories. Her goal is to help children develop physically, socio-emotionally, and cognitively during early childhood.

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Ms. Gao
Teacher

Ms. Gao completed her master's degree in Foreign Language Education, specializing in teaching Chinese, at the University of Pittsburgh.

"I strive to be a lifelong learner, and I am especially interested in design. From designing interactive language activities, program curriculum, or worksheets, to organizing local field trips or school exhibit reading corners, each activity leaves me feeling fulfilled by how my work affects the students and their learning environment. This is how they make me a better and happier person.""

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Ms. Gong
Teacher

Ms. Gao completed her master's degree in Foreign Language Education, specializing in teaching Chinese, at the University of Pittsburgh.

"I strive to be a lifelong learner, and I am especially interested in design. From designing interactive language activities, program curriculum, or worksheets, to organizing local field trips or school exhibit reading corners, each activity leaves me feeling fulfilled by how my work affects the students and their learning environment. This is how they make me a better and happier person.""

Ms. Gao completed her master's degree in Foreign Language Education, specializing in teaching Chinese, at the University of Pittsburgh.

"I strive to be a lifelong learner, and I am especially interested in design. From designing interactive language activities, program curriculum, or worksheets, to organizing local field trips or school exhibit reading corners, each activity leaves me feeling fulfilled by how my work affects the students and their learning environment. This is how they make me a better and happier person.""

I obtained my Bachelor's Degree in education/modern languages from Kansas State University and my Master's Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Texas at San Antonio. I have experience teaching Mandarin to kindergarten, elementary, and middle school-aged students in both public school and charter schools. I have also worked with adolescent and adult ESL learners. 

The more I grow in my teaching experience, the more I realize that the purpose of education is to let students enjoy what they are studying. Only when students are truly interested in the content will they be more willing to put in the effort to learn, making it easier to reach their academic goals. I am determined to create an engaging environment where students are excited about what will be taught in class. Outside of teaching, I like traveling, learning new languages, and eating spicy food.

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Ms. Jiang
Teacher

Ms. Jiang holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida, specializing in Bilingual Education. She has experience teaching English to middle school students in China and teaching Chinese to elementary school students in the US. Her passion for education is driven by motivating students to acquire knowledge, inspiring them to confront difficulties, and teaching them to have fun while learning. Besides teaching, she also loves singing and dancing.

"The happiest time for me every day is when I do a variety of classroom activities with students. When I interact with students, I can feel the vitality of students, their positive responses and enthusiasm for new knowledge, which gives me a great sense of achievement.."

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Ms. Lee
Teacher

Ms. Lee was born in the Bay Area and raised in Malaysia. She speaks Malaysian, English, and Mandarin. She earned her Associate's Degree in Graphic Design in California. She joined Cornerstone in 2018 and finds passion and joy in her work. She took Child Development courses to pursue her role as an educator. She aims to develop creativity in learning because she believes creation can enlighten a childhood. In her spare time, she loves decluttering (less is more!) and hiking.

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Ms. Lim
Teacher

Ms. Lim was born in Seoul, South Korea, spent her early childhood in Chile, and at the age of eleven immigrated to the US. Her personal experience learning new languages led her to become an ESL teacher and she holds a master’s degree in TESOL from Teachers College. She has over ten years experience teaching English to elementary school and middle school students, as well as adults. She particularly enjoys teaching literature as it is a window to so many new worlds. Her mission as an ELA teacher is to help students become strong readers and writers which is the key to becoming a successful life long learner. Another component of teaching she deeply enjoys is mentoring her students. “I believe every student has their own unique talents. We teachers have the privilege of helping students identify those talents and also set goals to improve areas that need growth. Cheering for them and guiding them so they will stay on track is an important part of my mentor role as their teacher.” 

In her spare time Ms. Lim enjoys going on trips with her family, catching up with friends, reading, and playing board games.

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Ms. Han
Teacher

Ms. Han is from Chongqing, China. She obtained her first master's degree in Applied Psychology from Southwest University in Chongqing, and her second master's degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Ms. Han has taught upper elementary classes since she joined Cornerstone in 2015. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and sightseeing.​

"I am a well-organized person and have a high sense of responsibility.

The happiest thing during every school day is when the kids are trying their best to do what they are not good at and finally succeed. I learned from kids that we should not be afraid of making mistakes."

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Ms. Li
Teacher

Ms. Li earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Stony Brook University. With a passion for language education, Ms. Li decided to switch into the education field for her graduate studies and she obtained her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining Cornerstone, Ms. Li taught English and Chinese in Philadelphia. Ms. Li’s passion is to promote the Chinese culture and language to the world. 

In her spare time, Ms. Li enjoys cooking and doing handcrafts. Her goal for her students is ' learn-by-doing'. She strives to design a variety of hands-on activities including simple cooking activities, origami activities, etc. to engage students.

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Ms. Lyu
Teacher

Ms. Lyu has been teaching both Mandarin and English to students from Kindergarten to adults for more than 6 years. She earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from San Jose State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geography Education from Capital Normal University in Beijing. She was also a credentialed teacher in China.

 

"I love singing and dancing so I try to incorporate it  in my class.  I bring passion and patience to educating and believe that a different language is a different vision of life. I teach language, but I also help my students understand and appreciate the culture behind the language through the learning process."

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Ms. Ma
Teacher

Ms. Ma joined Cornerstone in 2013. She sets high standards for her students, and does her utmost to help them reach such standards through her warm and caring, yet clear and firm support and guidance. Ms. Ma holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Shan Xi, China. She worked as a student affairs consultant in China before immigrating to the United States. Currently, Ms. Ma took child development courses in local colleges to continue learning how best to support her students.

"I learned how to always be full of enthusiasm and curiosity, good at observation, and enjoy learning and being challenged by the children."

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Ms. Liu
Teacher

Ms. Liu graduated from Bin Zhou University, China with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Language Literature. After earning my Chinese teacher qualification and Mandarin certificates, I traveled across China and abroad to teach Mandarin before settling down in California. I  enjoy combining games with teaching activities to encourage my students to acquire language skills. Teaching is my passion. I enjoy working with students while seeing them grow and develop into confident learners who achieve their goals.

In my spare time, I love hiking, swimming, running, listening to music, and reading.

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Ms. Milne
Teacher

Ms. Milne has a B.A. in Elementary Education and a Master of Education in Reading Education as well as a California Reading and Literacy Leadership Specialist Credential and a California Multiple Subject Credential. She also holds a Cross-Cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate which authorizes instruction to English learners. This is her 20th year in elementary education. She is passionate about making children feel welcomed and safe at school while helping them grow academically, socially, and emotionally. During her free time, she likes to spend time with her family playing, reading, and being outside.

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Ms. Min
Teacher

Ms. Min started my journey at Cornerstone in 2019, after she earned PhD in Bilingual Education from Texas A&M University. She discovered her passion for teaching and disseminating Chinese language and culture during college and decided to pursue a career as a teacher. Ms. Min has multiple years of experience  in teaching and educational research. Her expertise concerns improving learning and instruction during early childhood development. 

 

"Besides teaching language, I also have an interest in performing arts, including dance and piano. There are many things I’ve learned from my students: never be afraid to try out new things, express yourself sincerely and honestly, happily move on to the next thing instead of holding on to frustrations, to name a few.."

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Ms. Wang
Teacher

Ms. Wang earned her Ph.D. in Control Systems Engineering at the East China University of Science and Technology. She has taught Chinese in North Carolina and the Bay Area since 2017. Ms. Wang is passionate about helping her students develop Chinese language skills. She aims to create an engaging and encouraging class environment to foster positive learning outcomes. In her spare time, she likes painting and traveling.

"Every child has their own unique personality and shining point, which has helped me understand the importance of personalized education in child development. This has also helped me teach more effectively."

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Ms. Wong
Teacher

Ms. Wong is a native of the Bay Area, born and raised in Palo Alto. She attended San Francisco State Univ., graduating with a BA in Communication Studies, and then continued her studies at the Univ. of Southern California, receiving her MA in Teaching with an emphasis in Multiple Subject Education and her California Teaching Credential.

 

Prior to joining the community at Cornerstone, Ms. Wong has had experience teaching in both public and charter schools in San Jose, Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto. When Ms. Wong isn’t teaching, she enjoys trying new recipes, spending time with her family and friends, and taking her dog Puca out on new adventures!

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Ms. Teresa 
Director

Ms. Teresa Qian joined Cornerstone since 2016, serves as the Director of Admissions.

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Ms. Pang
Teacher

Ms. Gao completed her master's degree in Foreign Language Education, specializing in teaching Chinese, at the University of Pittsburgh.

"I strive to be a lifelong learner, and I am especially interested in design. From designing interactive language activities, program curriculum, or worksheets, to organizing local field trips or school exhibit reading corners, each activity leaves me feeling fulfilled by how my work affects the students and their learning environment. This is how they make me a better and happier person.""

Ms. Pang holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Jinan University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Primary) from The Education University of Hong Kong. She is a registered teacher in Hong Kong and she had been teaching in a primary school (K1-K6) for nearly 8 years.

“When it comes to education, students are the protagonists. As a teacher, my role is to guide and inspire them to strive for greatness. I believe that each student is unique and has endless potential. We should not only respect individual differences, but also create a safe and happy learning environment for them, stimulate their interest in learning effectively, encourage them to explore their potential and then pursue self-development. ”

In her spare time, Ms. Pang enjoys baking, building puzzles and Legos, hanging out with friends and snowboarding. 

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Ms. Yang
Teacher

Born and raised in Beijing, Ms. Yang’s passion for teaching Chinese as a second language was brought out early in her career. Prior to Cornerstone, she has more than 10 years of small group Chinese and piano teaching experience, targeting preschoolers and elementary age students. Ms. Yang holds a BA in Chinese literature and drama from Beijing Capital Normal University, and a Master's degree in fine arts from the University of Southern California. Ms. Yang believes strong and positive connections between teachers and students set the foundation of cherishing future success. 

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Mr. Yang
Teacher

Mr. Yang has been teaching Chinese at all levels in China, the UK, and the US for over twenty years. His student-centered teaching emphasizes engagement by promoting active participation and constant interaction in an encouraging and enjoyable environment.

Mr. Yang earned his master's in Modern Chinese at Beijing Normal University and bachelor's in Chinese Language and Literature at Huazhong University of Science and Technology. He is certified by China’s Department of Education to teach Chinese as a Foreign Language.

Besides teaching, Mr. Yang also enjoys spending time with family, reading, listening to music, and sports.

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Ms. Zhao holds a Master's degree in educational psychology from Jilin University with a Master’s degree, and also obtained her teaching credential in China. She began teaching Mandarin in the Bay Area in 2017 and earned her second Master’s degree at San Jose State University while she was teaching. Ms. Zhao is a friendly and passionate teacher who encourages students to become curious, creative, and enjoy their journey of exploration. She enjoys reading, crafting, and hiking in her spare time.

I" believe in growth mindset and I like to learn and grow with my students. My colleagues and students have taught me that the luckiest always put forth their best effort."

Ms. Zhao
Teacher

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Ms. Zhang
Teacher

Ms. Zhang has received Ph.D degree and Ed.S degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Florida International University. She has taught multi-discipline courses in culturally and linguistically diverse settings in education for almost one decade in both China and the U.S. In the past three years, She helped K-5 ESL students develop their grammar awareness in English language learning and provided their constant support in academic writing, and also guided K-5 teachers in the development of lesson plans and curriculum implementation in the context of bilingual educational settings. 

Her teaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that a teacher should empower each student to succeed. This is reflected in three essential responsibilities of a teacher: (1) to arouse students’ motivation in learning; (2) to facilitate, nurture and develop students’ learning methodology; and (3) to impart fundamental knowledge and skills to students. 

In her spare time, she enjoys trying new food, traveling, hiking, taking photos, reading and writing.

Join Our Team!

Cornerstone is a growing learning community that has been providing enriching and rewarding experiences to children since 2010.

 

An ideal candidate:

  • Is committed to professional development and has a growth mindset about learning for all

  • Enjoys contributing to students and community life inside and outside the classroom

  • Possesses an ability to integrate theory with practice in designing and implementing appropriate learning strategies for each student

  • Loves collaboration, iteration, and innovation

  • Is ready to roll up their sleeves and join a team that will do whatever it takes to support students as they learn, grow, and thrive

K-5 English Language Arts Teachers

We are looking for Elementary English Language Arts teachers to join our team. Both full-time and part-time positions are available.

Responsibilities include:

  • Plan, develop, and implement teaching plans to facilitate students' ELA development

  • Create a warm and challenging class learning environment that can maximize students’ learning outcomes

  • Evaluate and report students’ progress

 

Requirements / Qualifications:

  • Teaching credential preferred but not required

Mandarin Language Teachers

We are looking for Mandarin Chinese language teachers for a wide variety of positions in our preschool, elementary, and middle school-age programs. Full-time and part-time positions are available.

Applicants must be proficient in both English and Chinese. A bachelor's degree in a related field is preferred.

Cornerstone Employee Benefits

We offer a competitive salary for our employees. Full-time staff benefits include: medical insurance, family tuition discount and retirement plan.

How To Apply

Please email resume and two reference letters to Principal Helen Wong at wong.helen@cornerstonelearningfoundation.com to start the application process.

We look forward to receiving your application!

 

Cornerstone is committed to Equal Opportunity Employment and hires employees without regard to gender, race, religion, color, creed or sexual orientation.

Prior to beginning work at Cornerstone Learning Foundation, as a condition of employment, all employees must receive DOJ/FBI clearance as well as provide a copy of a negative TB test.