Adlai Stevenson High School to host "Virtual" Discovery Educator Network Conference

Connect with educators from all over the country during this unique professional development experience where you can attend in-person, online, or both.

  • When: Saturday, February 2nd from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm
  • Where: Adlai E. Stevenson High School, 1 Stevenson Drive, Lincolnshire, IL 60069 in the East Commons, Room 4400
  • Register by Clicking Here: Select “IL Northern Chicago Suburbs” as the event location.


  • 8:30 to 9:00 AM Breakfast
  • 9:00 to 10:00 Am (Web 2.0 Building a Bigger Builder) or “The DEN in Second Life” (local) (Lori Abrahams & Charlene Chausis)
  • 10 to 11 am: “The Bionic Lesson” – (Mike Bryant)
  • 11 am to Noon: (virtual) “Revenge of the Digital Immigrants” (Hall Davidson)
  • Noon to 1:30 pm: Lunch session: “50 Ways to Spin a Digital Story” (Steve Dembo)
  • 1:30 to 2:30 pm: (virtual) “Lost in Translation” (Lance Rougeux)
  • 2:30 to 3:30 pm: “DEN Delights” Lori Abrahams & Charlene Chausis)

More Information: The DEN Virtual Conference is a national event that provides educators a unique opportunity to experience Discovery Education’s high-quality professional development. Participants have the flexibility to attend the DEN Virtual Conference online or in-person at one of many regional events hosted by the DEN Leadership Councils.

The day will feature keynote presentations from Discovery’s own Hall Davidson and Lance Rougeux that will be broadcast to each of the regional gatherings. In between the keynote presentations, participants will attend breakout sessions presented by local STAR Discovery Educators.

Educators who cannot attend an in-person regional event still have the opportunity to participate virtually in the full-day conference. Special breakout sessions presented by Matt Monjan, Mike Bryant and Steve Dembo will be broadcast throughout the day.


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  1. Lori Abrahams said:

    Hope to see more IL DEN members in RL at this regional event. Or join me in SL in the AM. It should be a great day.

  2. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD said:

    Applied Educational Research Journal (AERJ)
    22 (3) 2009

    Integrating the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning to Improve National Fundraising Objectives

    Monica G. Williams
    PhD Student in Educational Leadership
    College of Education
    Prairie View A&M University
    Associate Vice President for Development
    Prairie View A&M University

    William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
    Professor and Faculty Mentor
    PhD Program in Educational Leadership
    Prairie View A&M University
    Member of the Texas A&M University System
    Visiting Lecturer (2005)
    Oxford Round Table
    University of Oxford, Oxford, England
    Distinguished Alumnus (2004)
    Central Washington University
    College of Education and Professional Studies
    Ellensburg, Washington

    Improving academic achievement is at the heart of college and university fund development. It has become increasingly important for fundraisers in educational settings to find innovative means to improve educational opportunities by increasing the institution’s financial resources. The purpose of this article is to discuss the benefits of integrating the six realms of meaning as defined by Dr. William Allan Kritsonis in the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (2007) to increase private financial support at higher education institutions.


    Using the six realms of meaning in the fundraising profession can increase private resources for institutions of higher education. Being a successful fundraiser in higher education means employing a wide range of strategies in order to increase the donor pool and continue the giving cycle for current donors. “Fundraisers know that average gift value increases with donor longevity, so the most productive use of professional and volunteer time in fundraising is spent giving donors what they need to stay loyal to the cause” (Burk, 2003, p. 6). Cultivating loyal donors increases the likelihood of building a solid and sustainable donor base that is willing to contribute meaningful dollars over an indefinite time.

    Purpose of the Article
    The purpose of this article is to help fundraising professionals increase charitable giving through use of the six realms of meaning as defined by Dr. William Allan Kritsonis (2007) in the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning. University advancement professionals and development officers can increase and stabilize institutional resources by using symbolics to improve donor communication; by using empirics to become more knowledgeable about their individual donor preferences; by using esthetics to gain an appreciation for the value of donors’ personal interests; by using synnoetics to cultivate relationships with new donors; by employing ethics to foster a sense of trust between fundraisers and donors; and by using synoptics to increase giving among historical donors.

    Using Symbolics in Fundraising
    One of many ways to build donor relations and secure the next gift is through the use of symbolics. The use of ordinary language between fundraisers and donors demonstrates existence of a true, personal relationship and creates a forum for open communication. People give money to people, not causes. Donors need to believe that they can communicate on a personal level with development professionals. Oftentimes, donors communicate their wishes through gestures, signs, or symbols, and fundraisers are required to read those signals. “Being conscious of how donors feel when they give makes it easy to respond in kind. A gift given eagerly in the anticipation of achieving something worthwhile should be matched by an equally enthusiastic response from the solicitor or the charity” (Burk, 2003, p. 15).
    Donors need to feel connected to the cause. This connection becomes more likely when fundraisers increase communication and recognition practices. Increasing communication means presenting timely information through regular university publications and on-line tools. It means reaching out to donors and having them anticipate a development officer’s next contact. “Everything you do that is read, heard, seen, or attended by even one of your donors is a part of your donor communication inventory, whether you intend it to be or not” (Burk, 2003, p. 113).
    A significant component of donor communication is donor recognition or acknowledgement. Thanking donors through written correspondence or with meaningful tokens represents appreciation for gifting. “On a gift-by-gift basis, budgeting communication and recognition relative to gift size seems to make sense, but it is actually the opposite of what we need to do if we want to retain more donors and increase the average value of contributions. We make the mistake of designing and budgeting communication as a post-gift activity instead of what it really is—the investment cost of securing the next gift” (Burk, 2003 p. 111).

    Empirics in Fundraising
    The ability to secure the next gift from a donor presupposes that fundraisers are empirically savvy. Fundraisers should be factually well-informed about their donors. They must know donor history and have the wherewithal to match donor preferences with unfunded priorities and critical agency needs. Ideally, fundraisers solicit the first gift, acknowledge that gift, prepare to re-solicit in a short but respectable timeframe, solicit the donor again, and continue the cycle accordingly. Knowing what the donor wants and expects will provide a smooth transition into giving and repeat giving.
    Donors appreciate feeling as if they have a partnership with the organizations to which they contribute. Universities have “…altered their fundraising methodology to give donors what they really need, and in so doing they have reaped the rewards” (Burk, 2003, p. 33). By adding structure and strategy to higher education fundraising through professional consulting firms, universities have made their claim to a fortune that has long awaited them. Much of what continues to await fundraisers is how to become more creative in cultivation strategies in order to gain more resources in areas that have been intentionally avoided by educational institutions.

    Appreciation for Esthetics
    Charitable organizations and individual donors have a variety of funding priorities. Accordingly, it is important that fundraisers embrace an appreciation for matching donor preferences with institutional needs. This requires flexibility in fundraising practices. It could be stated that donors largely give in two primary, broad categories—arts and sciences. To this end, being knowledgeable of all institutional programs is critical in fund development. Fundraisers must be appreciative of contributions in esthetics. They must be knowledgeable of the arts, understand the value of art collections, etc. They must know how to handle family members when the institution is the beneficiary of bequests.

    Relationship Building Using Synnoetics
    Shared beliefs and values often shape an organization’s culture. Organizations conduct business under the presumption that they will be able to sell and deliver a product that is mutually appreciated by the customer. Therefore, customer satisfaction can shape an organization’s culture. In higher education, the concept of synnoetics exists among fundraisers during the processes of donor cultivation and gift stewardship. Convincing donors that an agency operates at their best interest is largely influenced by common philosophies and values.
    According to Lance Loren Johnsen in a theoretical study involving conflicts that confront academic fundraisers, “fostering ethical relationships with donors is essential for preserving the integrity of the philanthropic gift economy” (Johnsen, p. 2). Being conscious of how donors feel when they give makes it easy to respond in kind (Burke, 2003, p. 14). A gift given eagerly in the anticipation of achieving something worthwhile should be matched by an equally enthusiastic response from the solicitor or charity. Ultimately, the shared belief or common goal between fundraisers and donors is what creates a continuum of giving.
    If a donor does not feel connected to an organization, the likelihood of acquiring a major gift is minimized. Philanthropists rely on their relationships with organizations to influence their giving. The lack of shared beliefs between prospective donors and organizations results in unsatisfied philanthropists. It is incumbent upon the fundraiser to resolve any differences in philosophical underpinnings prior to donor cultivation. Academic fundraisers resolve deliberative conflicts through choices grounded in their responsibilities to persons (Johnsen, p. 115).
    Senior fundraising professional and author, Penelope Burke, addresses donor philosophy best by saying, “When a donor sits down to write a check, her heart may be racing, she may be imagining how you will react when you open the envelope, and she is certainly wondering whether her gift will have a positive impact on the work you both cherish” (Burke, p. 15). This statement is the foundation of the fundraising profession. People give money to people, not causes. In translation, philanthropists give careful consideration to making substantial donations, and when cultivated by the right person at the right time, the organization reaps the best harvest.
    In the fund development community, stewards often overlook the importance of building relationships. Fundraisers must embrace the philosophy that requires them to appreciate the customer. Donor appreciation embodies the culture of any reputable fundraising organization. It is, therefore, imperative that fundraisers understand, respect, and trust donors.

    Ethics in Fundraising
    Direct correlation between ethical behavior and fundraising is clear. In fact, the basis for successful fundraising is ethics. Without application of ethical principles, fundraisers would not garner the support necessary to achieve effective results.
    Assessing ethics among fundraisers is a fascinating topic. It is almost understood that educational advancement professionals are responsible for the welfare of others (i.e. employees, students, parents, community, and the society at large). Having a responsibility of this magnitude insists that fundraisers have basic core values that represent the highest level of ethical principles.
    These development leaders are called upon to make moral decisions at many levels of complexity. The degree to which they make the best decision is how they are publicly evaluated by the donor community. While the values of fundraisers influence the make up their ethical framework, it is incumbent upon them to make decisions that satisfy the vast majority of its constituents. This is probably the single most challenging attribute fundraisers have to adopt. Being flexible enough to please a diverse community requires minimization of personal opinions. A collaboration of values that embodies input from a committed donor community will foster the opportunity for buy-in from all who have a vested interest in increasing resources for institutional advancement.

    Donor Attrition through Use of Synoptics
    Fundraisers must understand individual societal contributions by employing synoptics. “If a nonprofit organization is going to thrive in the twenty-first century, it must not only recognize and serve diverse cultures but also raise substantial portions of its monies from them” (Newman, 2002, p. 3). Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have recently embraced the concept of matching donor preferences with institutional funding needs. Approaching donors from this angle has yielded a wealth of resources for HBCUs. Many of these schools have discovered that using students to call alumni produces results. When alumni receive a call from a student pursuing a similar academic discipline, alumni perceive that they are in touch with a beneficiary who has similar beliefs and/or philosophies. For example, an engineering student contacting an alumnus who majored in engineering prompts a thoughtful and proportionate gift and presents the opportunity for the alumnus to reconnect with the institution. Reestablishing the relationship will nearly guarantee support.

    Concluding Remarks
    In conclusion, having a universal vision about the importance of philanthropy will help fundraisers achieve the epitome of excellence (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 564). The six realms of meaning as introduced by Dr. William A. Kritsonis present an effective model for fundraising achievement in higher education. The model embraces using symbolics to communicate more effectively; empirics to define and meet donor preferences; esthetics to gain an appreciation for the value of donors’ personal interests; synnoetics to improve personal knowledge and experience through donor contact; ethics to foster a sense of trust between fundraisers and donors; and synoptics to unite donors with a worth cause. Understanding how each realm can work intermittently to establish a donor community will nearly guarantee a continuum of philanthropic generosity.


    Burk, P. (2003). Donor-centered fundraising. Chicago: Cygnus Applied Research, Incorporated.

    Johnsen, L. L. (May, 2005). Understanding deliberative conflicts that confront
    academic fund raisers: A grounded theory study. Retrieved June 6, 2006, from
    ProQuest Information and Learning Company website:
    Kritsonis, W.A. (2007). Ways of knowing through the realms of meaning. Houston, Texas: National Forum Press.
    Newman, D.S. (2002). Opening doors: Pathways to diverse donors. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
    Formatted by Dr. Mary Alice Kritsonis, National Research and Manuscript Preparation Editor, NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Houston, Texas.

  3. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD said:

    Writing for Professional Publication in National Refereed Journals
    A Session for Faculty and Doctoral Students

    California State University, San Bernardino
    April 3, 2008

    William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
    PhD Program in Educational Leadership
    Prairie View A&M University/The Texas A&M University System

    1. Professional reasons for writing for publication
    2. Personal reasons for writing for publication
    3. How real writers behave
    4. Writer’s write for the following reasons
    5. How to get started
    6. What will “sell” the editor on your work?
    7. Formula: Brilliant Ideas + Good Luck + Knowing the Right People = Publication
    8. On scholarly work
    9. Reasons to write and publish journal articles
    10. Writing and publishing journal articles enables you to…
    11. Three basic types of articles: practical – review or theoretical – research
    12. Quantitative Studies
    13. Qualitative Research
    14. On writing books
    15. Four phases of book publishing (Fun – Drudgery – Torture – Waiting)
    16. Some reasons to write a book
    17. Where does the dollar go after a book is published?
    18. What do editors and reviewers really want?
    19. Earning approval from editors and reviewers
    20. What to remember about bad writing
    21. How to get fired as a reviewer
    22. Publish or perish or teach or impeach
    23. I’ve been rejected many times – should I give up?
    24. In writing, how you read is important
    25. How teachable is writing?
    26. “I can’t seem to tell how my writing is going while I am doing it. Can you help?
    27. Remember your purpose in writing
    28. What differentiates ordinary writing from writing with style
    29. It must get somewhat easier to write, otherwise, how would some authors become so prolific?
    30. If writing for publication does not prove to be lucrative, why bother?
    31. Why creative work is worthwhile
    32. Show respect for your writing. It is about what the readers should know. If this puts a strain on a professional relationship, then so be it.
    33. “Why I Write” (Orwell) Sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose.
    34. What really makes an academic write?
    35. The Writer’s Essential Tools – words and the power to face unpleasant facts.
    36. No human activity can sap the strength from body and life from spirit as much as writing in which one doesn’t believe.
    37. “Because it was there.” Edmund Hillary. And with this comment he supplied generations with a ready-made and unanswerable defense for any new undertaking even writing.
    38. Why we write.
    39. Climbing Your Own Mountain
    40. Be yourself. Have fun writing.

    Please list any other topics you want Dr. Kritsonis to discuss.
    281-550-5700 Home; Cell: 832-483-7889 –

  4. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD said:

    Smaller Learning Communities: Pre-Implementation Planning Critical to Success

    Alex Torrez
    PhD Student in Educational Leadership
    The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education
    Prairie View A&M University
    Prairie View, Texas
    Assistant Superintendent
    Clear Creek Independent School District
    Houston, Texas

    William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
    Professor and Faculty Mentor
    PhD Program in Educational Leadership
    The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education
    Prairie View A&M University
    Member of the Texas A&M University System
    Visiting Lecturer (2005)
    Oxford Round Table
    University of Oxford, Oxford, England
    Distinguished Alumnus (2004)
    College of Education and Professional Studies
    Central Washington University


    This article clearly defines the three crucial pre-implementation principles to maximize the success of Smaller Learning Communities in large high schools. Establishing clear understanding for the need of the SLC initiative is the first of these principles. Long term commitment to a sustained plan for relevant SLC professional learning opportunities will guarantee proper training, skills, and knowledge for those working within the SLC school. The final principle defined within this article is the establishment of a foundation for professional learning communities. The absence of any one of these principles can seriously affect the success of a SLC school.


    Implementing smaller learning communities in large schools can be argued as the best way to advance student achievement and improve teacher professional learning. Research has been rapidly accumulating that, as far as high schools is concerned size does matter-and smaller is better (Daniels, Bizar, and Zemelman 2001). Student achievement in small schools is superior to that in large schools (Bates 1993; Eberts, Kehoe, and Stone 1982; Eicherstein 1994; Fowler and Walberg 1991; Kershaw and Blank 1993; Miller, Ellsworth, and Howell 1986; Robinson-Lewis 1991; Walberg 1992) (as cited in Cotton, 1996). Most would agree that SLC’s alone will not solve all academic gaps. Benefits such as improved collegiality and collaboration among teachers combined with improved personalized student-teacher relationships would seem to be sufficient factors to convince educators to embrace the SLC model. Limited research supports the superiority of large schools over small schools. Educators continue to struggle with successful implementation and sustainability of the small school concept.

    The Purpose of this Article

    The purpose of this article is to assist schools in recognizing the importance of the preparation required during the pre-implementation phase of the SLC initiative. To insure the successful initiation of the SLC model, schools must not overlook the importance and commitment to professional learning. Schools not willing to make a commitment to pre-implementation education and preparation are likely to experience slow and inconsistent change as a result.

    Understanding the Need for a SLC

    Establishing the need for SLC’s is fundamental for creating the understanding and support required to begin. Understanding the important concepts that make SLC’s worth studying starts with the end in mind, the child. Educators and students in mega high schools are familiar with the reality that developing a supportive and nurturing atmosphere is difficult. Students in large high schools can go through their entire high school experience and potentially not have the same group of students in class more than once. Each year students adjust to a new set of teachers who have limited or no history with the student. This traditional setting decreases the potential of establishing meaningful relationships. Studies have established that students need relationships with both peers and adults as part of a healthy learning environment. Adult connections and personalization improves the school experience.

    Each student needs to know at least one adult in the school is closely concerned with his or her fate…The relationship between the student and the advocate should ensure that no youngster experiences the sense of isolation that frequently engulfs teenagers during this critical period of their lives. Having someone on his or her side can help a young person feel a part of the school community (National Association of Secondary Principals, 1996, p. 31). If high achievement for all students is the goal of reform, then personalization and a rigorous curriculum are two essential ingredients. Although some students might be able to make it though four years of high school despite the lack of any personal connections, all students require a supportive environment-some more than others. Creating that environment is essential to bringing learning to fruition. (National Association of Secondary Principals, 2004, p. 67)

    An increased emphasis on strengthening relationships with students is at the center of the SLC model. It is imperative to establish a clear understanding of what that means to teachers and staff as well as what is expected of them. Planning ongoing professional learning that will assist the faculty in understanding the changes that need to occur will be at the focal point of creating understanding and embracing relationships. Although few would argue that teachers have been historically excellent mentors, the focus on more meaningful student relationships must be implemented correctly or it could be perceived as an extra responsibility added to an already difficult profession.

    Pre-Implementation Professional Learning

    Campus teams working in the pre-implementation stage must be fully committed to a sustained plan that will provide relevant SLC professional learning. The planning of professional learning during pre-implementation is often overlooked by school administrators. When limited planning or little effort is taken to provide relevant professional learning opportunities that ensure staff members’ deep understanding of the skills needed for using the new practices a SLC model will find it difficult to succeed. Too often, unfortunately, little care is taken to provide professional learning that insures staff members’ deep understanding of content and development of skills for using new practices (Hord and Sommers 2007). Professional learning that assists the process by creating a clear understanding of the iniative and the components that will be needed to create consensus for the initiative are critical to the process from the beginning to full implementation.
    Below is a list of topics that require professional learning during pre-implementation:

    • What is a professional learning communities
    • Professional learning communities individual and team responsibilities
    • How to develop interdisciplinary lessons
    • Interdisciplinary teaching techniques
    • Use of advisory period
    • Building support for individual and student groups
    • Building capacity in the program
    • Sustained leadership
    • Team stability
    • Articulation with college/university systems
    • Building community support

    Professional Learning Community
    Working as an effective professional learning community is important to the early success of the SLC initiative. The first and most fundamental task of building a collaborative culture is to bring together those people whose responsibilities create an inherent mutual interest in exploring the critical question of PLC (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many, 2006). The challenge for administrators is overcoming the established traditional school and familiar structure that creates an environment of isolation for teachers. This isolation results in a natural disconnection from colleagues and limits opportunities to share the educational process. Department level meetings, although informative and critical to communication, are not in most cases characterized as a professional learning community. The importance of providing training that assists teachers in the process of working together as well as emphasizes the impact that professional collaboration has on both students and teachers is a powerful step. Allowing teachers to collaborate without appropriate training or understanding why they are collaborating has the potential of creating frustration due to a lack of common experience in the process of working together and the expected outcomes of such efforts. In fact, we are convinced that one of the most common mistakes school administrators make in the implementation of improvement initiatives is to focus exclusively on the “how” while being inattentive to why (Dufour, Dufour, Eaker, & Many, 2006)
    A key to implementing a PLC that embraces collaboration will require a commitment to team planning time. Allowing collaboration time is important however allowing collaboration time during the school day is a tremendous reassurance to the commitment of SLC implementation. Expecting teachers to work in professional learning communities and creating outcomes that are benefiting the process of collaborative lesson development, discussions regarding teaching strategies, and opportunities for discussing strategies to assists struggling learners is more meaningful when a time commitment from the district is recognized.

    Creating the Right Conditions

    Under the right conditions, the problems of commitment, alignment, motivation, and change largely melt away (Collins 2001). Implementation teams that understand the importance of creating the right conditions start by establishing a foundation that a change from the present system is beneficial for students. Positive factors such as opportunities for increased and improved student relationships with peers and faculty resulting in improved attendance, decreased dropout rate, and improved academic success are keys to convincing educators to embrace the necessity for SLC’s. Comprehending that the process involves a different level of collaboration than most educators are familiar with requires a paradigm shift for many teachers. Benefits such as engaging in professional conversations in relation to educational practices and resolving common instructional issues are important. In addition the by product of building professional relationships strengthens the bonds between teachers creating stronger more meaningful support groups.

    Concluding Remarks
    Finally the success of SLC’s is dependent on a sound pre-implementation plan that is systematic and focused on creating a common and clear understanding of the initaitive. The outcome and the impact on students as well as teachers is the driving force that necessitates a smooth transition from the present structure.

    Cotton K. (1996, May). School size, school climate and student performance. Retrieved November 3, 2007, from The Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory website:
    DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., and Many, T. (2006). Learning by doing: A handbook for professional learning communities at work. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree (formerly National Educational Service).
    Daniels, D., Bizar, M., and Zemelman, S. (2001). Rethinking high schools: Best practice in teaching, learning, and leadership. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
    Hord, M. and Sommers, W.A. (2007). Leading professional learning communities: Voices from research and practice. Thousand Oaks. CA: Cowin Press.
    J. Collins, (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap…and others don’t. New York: Harper Business.
    National Association of Secondary School Principals (1996). Breaking ranks: Changing an American institution. Reston, VA: Author.
    National Association of Secondary School Principals. (2004). Breaking ranks II: Strategies for leading high school reform. Reston, VA: Author.

  5. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD said:

    Beyond the First Days of School: The Recruitment, Retention, and Development of Quality Teachers in Hard-to-Staff Schools: A National Focus

    Misti M. Morgan
    PhD Student in Educational Leadership
    The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education
    Prairie View A & M University
    Prairie View, Texas
    Assistant Principal
    Houston Independent School District
    Houston, Texas

    William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
    Professor and Faculty Mentor
    PhD Program in Educational Leadership
    Prairie View A&M University
    Member of the Texas A&M University System
    Visiting Lecturer
    Oxford Round Table
    University of Oxford, Oxford, England
    Distinguished Alumnus
    Central Washington University
    College of Educational and Professional Studies


    A shortage of quality teachers in high-risk urban schools has compelled school leaders to examine innovative methods of recruiting and retaining new teachers to hard-to-staff campuses. Principals must work aggressively to attract new teachers to their campuses by forming university partnerships for early recruitment, and initiating on the job training for new recruits as early as the previous school year. Early immersion in the school environment is key to a smooth transition. Additionally, principals must allocate the necessary fiscal resources to the task of retaining new teachers, particularly in mentorship and professional development. Hard-to-staff campuses must invest in a full-time teacher mentor as well as retired teachers to provide intense mentorship and relevant professional training. Principals must also integrate other critical components to building teacher quality and commitment, such as on-site certification preparation, graduated retention bonuses, and most importantly, weekly formal and informal interactions between the principal and new teachers. The development of new teachers in hard-to-staff schools should be of the highest priority for principals, as stability is key to long-term school improvement. The commitment to this initiative must not only be evident in a principal’s agenda and campus improvement goals, but the campus expenditures as well.


    As a national sense of urgency builds towards greater student preparedness and achievement in public schools, the need for the recruitment and retention of quality teachers has reached a fevered pitch. Urban, suburban, and even rural districts are marketing themselves to prospective teachers in the hopes of luring promising educators into their districts and keeping them there. Yet as effective as teacher recruitment efforts may be in individual districts, the teacher turnover statistic remains alarmingly high. Nationwide, annual teacher attrition (turnover) costs have risen to a staggering 7 billion dollars (NEA, 2007). Even more troubling are the statistics or numbers of teachers leaving hard-to-staff schools; recent numbers indicate that an average of 50% of teachers transfer, resign, or retire from high-risk schools within the first five years of employment (NEA, 2007). It is a sobering reality that teacher turnover is greatest in the most academically challenged environments.

    Purpose of the Article

    The purpose of this article is to make recommendations for three critical questions regarding teacher recruitment, retention, and development in hard-to-staff schools:

    1) How do hard-to-staff schools aggressively recruit teachers for their campuses?
    2) What steps should principals take to develop new teachers once they become a part of their faculty?
    3) What activities should principals engage in to secure a teacher’s long-term commitment to the school?

    Throughout this article, the term hard-to-staff applies to schools with the following characteristics:
    • Large percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged students
    • Difficult teaching environment
    • Undesirable school location
    • Low academic achievement of student population (Allen, 1999)

    The term ‘teachers’ will refer to teachers new to any given hard-to-staff campus, regardless of their previous professional experience.

    Teacher Recruitment – Before the First Days (of School)

    Principals in hard-to-staff schools can take a proactive approach to staffing by implementing the following techniques:

    University Partnerships
    Whenever possible, principals in hard-to-staff schools should solicit the cooperation of local colleges and universities to engage in early on-campus recruitment of prospective teachers. Many college graduates remain undecided on their career path as late as graduation day; a proactive approach to recruitment may sway a potential employee.

    Pre-Service Preparation
    In partnering with local colleges and universities, hard-to-staff schools must make the case to the universities to expose pre-service teachers to not only the high-performing, exemplary schools, but to low socioeconomic schools as well. Too often, college graduates become disenchanted with the public school system when their first teaching assignment bears no resemblance to their student teaching experience. New teachers need a more accurate depiction of hard-to-staff schools, so they will know the challenges that await them (and be willing to face them anyway).

    Job Shadowing

    When a principal’s recruitment efforts net potential employees, he or she should move quickly to immerse the new teacher in the life of the campus. Principals in hard-to-staff schools should create job shadowing or apprenticeship opportunities for new employees even before they sign their contracts. The sooner the employee becomes involved, the faster he or she will develop a sense of commitment to the campus.

    Early Contract Signing

    It is no longer reasonable to expect new teachers to grasp all the inner workings of a campus during the two weeks just prior to the start of school. Rather, new teacher contracts should begin as early as the first of June to ensure that time is allotted for pertinent trainings, job acclimation, and preparation. An earlier start would mean fewer overwhelmed teachers on the first days of school.


    New teachers should always be given a great amount of fanfare upon their arrival to a campus. Celebrations that allow new faculty members to meet returning teachers should be initiated at the beginning of the school year and continued on a frequently recurring basis.

    The First Days of School

    You’ve got the teachers…now what will you do with them?


    While most new teachers are given mentors upon their arrival, the mentor is almost always another teacher with a full course load and additional duties (since most teacher leaders tend to be involved in a plethora of activities). This arrangement leaves little time for true collaboration, and often leaves a new teacher to fend for his or herself. To depart from such scenarios, hard-to-staff schools must either allocate (or be subsidized by the school district) funds to hire a full-time teacher mentor. The teacher mentor would be primarily responsible for professional development, cognitive coaching, and coordination of mentor-mentee partnerships.
    The use of retired teachers as one-to-one mentors will provide new teachers with the assistance they need and the personalization that conventional mentorship does not afford. Retired teachers would serve as mentors in the classroom, acting in a coaching and co teaching capacity. Feedback would be instant, giving the new teacher a support system for growth and development. In addition, new teachers should initially have a reduced course load for preparation and observation of best practices in peer classrooms.
    Principals must find monies to support this critical initiative rather than overburdening existing staff, as the importance of developing new teachers cannot be overstated.

    Professional Development

    The importance of relevant professional development and training opportunities to the survival of the new teacher cannot be negated. Training must be early, engaging, regularly repeated, and monitored for implementation. Critical topics for professional development in a hard-to-staff school would include:

    • Understanding the culture of poverty (and its implications on teaching and learning)
    • Discipline management (hard-to-staff campuses should develop a school wide model for implementation)
    • Inclusion strategies for special populations (Special Education and English Language Learners)
    • Curriculum Implementation
    • Assessment and Data Analysis
    • Examining Student Work
    • Motivation and Creating Opportunities for Student Success
    • Documentation
    • Campus policies and procedures

    Weekly Debriefing with the Campus Principal

    The campus principal must take a hands-on approach to teacher mentoring. Too often, the responsibility of acclimating new teachers (to the campus) falls to the assistant principal, creating a disconnect between the principal and his newest/most impressionable employees. The principal must set aside time regularly (weekly is ideal) to debrief and interact with new teachers. Time with new teachers is far too critical for a principal to delegate, and should remain a priority on a principal’s agenda for the entire academic year.

    Test Preparation

    On average, 34% of teachers enter the profession without the benefit of full certification (NEA, 2007). While many test preparation programs exist to prepare teachers for state examinations, many of the programs can be costly, and in some cases, only moderately successful. Hard-to-staff campuses would create a win-win situation by compensating campus based teacher leaders to tutor new teachers for certification exams; new teachers could gain relevant information at no additional cost, and schools would increase their number of certified teachers and the teacher’s commitment to the school.

    Beyond the First Day

    How to Keep Quality Teachers


    Hard-to-staff campuses should establish an incentive pay structure that rewards new teachers with a graduated sum of money for each year that they elect to return to the campus. Retention pay would extend up to five years, as research indicates that most teachers permanently commit to the profession after four to five years.

    Insist on Involvement

    Teachers must sponsor or co-sponsor at least one student-centered activity or participate in at least one campus based committee their first year. Also, new teachers should be strongly encouraged to attend student-centered events, such as football games and school dances. Teacher presence at student-centered events communicates to students and parents that teachers are genuinely interested and supportive of student pursuits outside of the classroom. This in turn creates a more positive rapport between teachers and students in the classroom, as students are more likely to see the teachers as an individual who cares about their well-being.

    Opportunities for Growth

    Teachers should seek opportunities for relevant professional development and growth outside of the campus, and principals should allocate monies for their pursuits. As a goal, principals should encourage teachers to gain additional endorsements to increase their certification, and when possible, pay for teachers to take the classes needed to attain additional licensures.

    Concluding Remarks

    In a hard-to-staff school, principals must be sensitive to the need for quality, new teachers and aware of the difficulties they will face in finding them. The success of the new teacher is inextricably linked to the success of students, and if student achievement is a priority, then new teacher development must be a priority as well. Further, when prioritizing, principals must allocate time and funding to support their priorities. It is not enough to say that new teachers are important – sufficient monies must exist in the budget to support the initiative. A principal’s commitment to the development of new teachers can ensure perpetuity and ultimate progress to the success of a hard-to-staff school.

    Allen, M., & Education Commission of the States, D. (1999, August 1). Teacher
    recruitment, preparation and retention for hard-to-staff schools. . (ERIC
    Document Reproduction Service No. ED440948) Retrieved October 19, 2007,
    from ERIC database.
    National Education Association (NEA) (2007). Take a look at today’s teachers. Retrieved November 6, 2007, from National Education Association Website:

    Author’s Address
    Misti Morgan
    10422 Caribou
    Missouri City, Texas 77459

  6. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD said:

    William Allan Kritsonis, PhD


    1. Public education is the largest employer in this country.
    2. Approximately 54 million students are educated in K-12 public school programs in about 14,367 school districts; another 6 million attend private schools. About 715 are home study students.
    3. Some of the reforms, as a result of the critical reports issued in the early 1980s, have been successful while others have failed.
    4. The majority of the general public believe schools have stayed the same or gotten worse during the past five years.
    5. The purposes of today’s schools go way beyond the original purposes of religious and academic training.
    6. The melting pot theory has never been fully realized; many diverse cultural groups retain distinct identities and are represented in public schools.
    7. To improve the quality of teachers, many states have initiated reforms including competency tests, better salaries, merit pay, incentives, merit pay incentives, and stiffer entrance requirements into teacher education programs.
    8. Conservative groups played a major role in the educational reform move¬ment of the 1980s.
    9. Changing enrollment patterns continue to create problems in planning for public educa¬tion.
    10. The general future outlook for public education is excellent.

  7. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD said:

    William Allan Kritsonis, PhD


    1. Understanding historical forces that helped shape our schools will facilitate our under¬standing of school today.
    2. The beginnings of a liberal arts education were in Athens during the Greek empire.
    3. The Latin Grammar school, developed during later part of the Roman empire, was the most predominant part of Roman civilization.
    4. Education made significant gains during the Renaissance and Reformation periods (1300 AD – 1700 AD).
    5. Education in Colonial America varied considerably from region to region.
    6. Massachusetts and other New England states led the way for public educational pro¬grams.
    7. The primary purpose of education in New England was religious training.
    8. Academies expanded rapidly during the early 1800s and became the predominant secon¬dary model until high schools appeared.
    9. The common schools movement, which began in Massachusetts and was led by Horace Mann, resulted in our publicly supported elementary school programs.
    10. High school evolved from the Latin Grammar School and academies during the early 20th century.
    11. John Dewey was the most influential individual on American education during the first half of the 20th century.
    12. The federal government began its extensive involvement in education during the latter half of the 20th century.

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