Summary of Program: The SpeakFirst Debate program enriches the academic experience of talented and motivated students from Birmingham-area middle and high schools through participation in academic debate.  As they sharpen their debating skills, students also improve vocabulary, critical thinking, speaking ability, and language and study skills. SpeakFirst uses academic debate as a platform to support these students and guide them on a path toward excellence in college and beyond.

The high school team (consisting of ~20 students) specializes in Public Forum Debate, which focuses on practical and philosophical questions about current domestic and foreign policy issues, and emphasizes the ability to debate and convey arguments about these issues persuasively to a judge.  In addition to debate, SpeakFirst provides our high school students one-on-one tutoring and mentoring, college admissions and financial aid guidance, standardized test preparation, cultural educational activities, and summer internships.

Our middle school program engages students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades at eight local middle schools (10-20 students per school) in an extracurricular debate program.  Practices for the league are held after school twice weekly in each school and students participate in four citywide tournaments throughout the academic year.

For more information about SpeakFirst, visit

SpeakFirst Program Director Responsibilities:

  • Directs the implementation of the SpeakFirst High School and Middle School debate programs, including curriculum development, lesson planning, and coaching
  • Supervises two full-time SpeakFirst High School Program Coaches and one full-time SpeakFirst Middle School Team Leader (all AmeriCorps Members)
  • Provides training, as necessary, for other Impact Alabama AmeriCorps Members who serve in an occasional capacity to assist with SpeakFirst (such as judges at debate tournaments)
  • High School Program
    • Leads high school practices and facilitates debate preparation activities with students
    • Manages correspondence regarding debate tournament participation and fees
    • Oversees planning cultural events, outings, and other educational activities for students
    • Develop evaluation metrics for student participants and collect data to measure program impact
    • Prepares evaluations and programmatic reports for Board meetings
    • Coordinates subject-specific and ACT prep tutors
    • Oversees college and scholarship application processes for seniors
    • Communicates with parents of students to convey logistics and expectations, and to address any academic or behavioral issues
    • Transports students, as necessary, from school to practice and to tournaments
    • Represents SpeakFirst at local debate coach meetings
    • Attend 8-10 weekend high school debate tournaments to supervise AmeriCorps Members and support students [1 compensatory day will be provided per tournament to make up for Saturday work]
  • Middle School Program
    • Manages workshops and lesson planning for SpeakFirst middle school coaches
    • Serves as resource for middle school coaches for questions related to classroom management and behavioral issues
    • Attends middle school practice on Mondays, as needed (3-5pm)
    • Recruit guest judges from the community for debate tournaments, as needed
    • Oversee the organization of rounds and setup and supervision of the tab room during debate tournaments (three evenings during the fall and one Saturday in May)

Reports to: National Program Director

Location: Birmingham, AL

Hours:  Full-time (40 hours per week).  Attendance at high school debate practices on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4-6pm during the academic year (occasional absences allowable).  Attendance at debate tournaments on Friday evening and Saturdays (approximately 7-10 weekends during the academic year, some out-of-town/overnight travel required) and one tournament to New Orleans each December (Friday through Sunday).  Compensatory days are given to make up for weekend responsibilities.

Skills/Experience Preferred:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 3-5 years of professional experience, especially in a setting working with high school students
  • Classroom management experience preferred
  • Experience with debate
  • Excellent communication and management skills

Other Expectations:

  • Positive attitude and rapport with staff and AmeriCorps Members
  • Collaborative spirit
  • Adherence to assigned deadlines
  • Attention to detail
  • Flexibility in a dynamic service environment
  • Serve independently to design weekly schedule and activities to complete projects

Salary:  Commensurate with experience

Physical Requirements/Essential Functions: 

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an applicant to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Sedentary physical activity requiring sitting for periods of time
  • Talking and hearing
  • 50% or more time is spent looking directly at a computer


Nondiscrimination Policy

Reasonable Accommodations Policy for Applicants with Disabilities