Recruitment & Retention Video

How to Create a School Culture That Teachers Won’t Want to Leave

By Caitlynn Peetz — August 22, 2023 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Building a school culture that staff members don’t want to leave is a long process that takes a real commitment from administrators, but the hard work pays off, according to one Texas principal who’s dedicated his career to doing just that.

At Colleyville Middle School, staff have been known to turn down job offers that would have bumped up their salaries by as much as $10,000 or significantly cut their commute time.

What makes Colleyville so special?

During an EdWeek forum on Aug. 17, Principal David Arencibia said it’s all about balancing high expectations with truly valuing employees.

“I’ve been in a lot of places where it’s high standards—data, data, data, state testing scores, accountability—and that’s where the focus only stays,” Arencibia said. “I’ve also been in other places where it’s all about the people—keep people happy, relational—and that’s great as well. However, once there was a little accountability ... people didn’t like that. What we’ve done is we’ve been able to marry the two.”

During the event, Arencibia said school leaders should focus first on determining a set of “core values” to guide the school community, which could include things like ensuring all students achieve academically or a commitment to student and staff members’ physical and mental well-being.

Once the core values are established, hiring people who truly believe in and support them is critical, Arencibia said.

Once people are hired, supporting their professional development through relevant and engaging annual trainings that align with the school’s core values can go a long way, he said. Also key: celebrating their successes often and genuinely.

“It doesn’t matter how small the success is or how big it is, we are constantly lifting our teachers up and lifting our students up to say, ‘Hey, you see, you can do it, you can be successful,’ ” Arencibia said. “What that does is it just breeds more success, more positivity.”

It takes time to infuse a positive culture into a school, Arencibia said. Some people may not be a good fit, and there will be some turnover, as there is at any job. But because of his work at Colleyville, the 615-student school in the Dallas-Fort Worth area only had five teachers out of about 65 leave at the end of the 2022-23 school year, Arencibia said. Before Arencibia took over at Colleyville, the school routinely had to fill more than a dozen vacant positions each year, he said.

The full recording of Arencibia’s session during the EdWeek event is above.

See Also

From left, Principal David Arencibia converses with Learning Liaison, Brooke Schuster at Colleyville Middle School in Colleyville, Texas on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.
Principal David Arencibia, left, talks with Brooke Schuster, a learning liasion, at Colleyville Middle School in Colleyville, Texas, on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.
Emil T. Lippe for Education Week

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention Signing Ceremonies Honor Students Who Want to Be Teachers
In a growing number of schools across the country, student-athletes aren't the only ones in the spotlight. Future teachers are, too.
7 min read
The advisers of Baldwin County High School’s chapter of Future Teachers of Alabama pose with the seniors who are committed to a career in education in April 2024. From left to right, they are: Chantelle McPherson, Diona Davis, Molly Caruthers, Jameia Brooks, Whitney Jernigan, Derriana Bishop, Vickie Locke, and Misty Byrd.
The advisers of Baldwin County High School’s chapter of Future Teachers of Alabama pose with seniors who are committed to a career in education in April 2024. From left to right: Chantelle McPherson, Diona Davis, Molly Caruthers, Jameia Brooks, Whitney Jernigan, Derriana Bishop, Vickie Locke, and Misty Byrd.
Courtesy of Baldwin County High School
Recruitment & Retention Why Your Next Teacher Job Fair Probably Won't Be Virtual
Post-pandemic, K-12 job fairs have largely pivoted to in-person events. But virtual fairs still have a place.
4 min read
Facility and prospective applicants gather at William Penn School District's teachers job fair in Lansdowne, Pa., Wednesday, May 3, 2023. As schools across the country struggle to find teachers to hire, more governors are pushing for pay increases and bonuses for the beleaguered profession.
Facility and prospective applicants gather at William Penn School District's in-person teachers job fair in Lansdowne, Pa., Wednesday, May 3, 2023.
Matt Rourke/AP
Recruitment & Retention How Effective Mentors Strengthen Teacher Recruitment and Retention
Rudy Ruiz, founder of the Edifying Teachers network, shares advice on what quality mentorship entails for teachers of color.
3 min read
A teacher helps students during a coding lesson at Sutton Middle School in Atlanta on Feb. 12, 2020.
A teacher helps students during a coding lesson at Sutton Middle School in Atlanta on Feb. 12, 2020.
Allison Shelley/EDUimages
Recruitment & Retention What the Research Says Some Positive Signs for the Teacher Pipeline, But It's Not All Good. What 3 Studies Say
Teacher-prep enrollment is stabilizing, but school-level turnover is still high.
8 min read
A classroom at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pa., sits empty on May 3, 2023. Teachers in the state left their jobs at an accelerating rate, according to an analysis that found attrition in Pennsylvania doubled in the 2022-23 school year. New studies paint a complex picture of the national pipeline.
A classroom at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pa., sits empty on May 3, 2023. Teachers in the state left their jobs at an accelerating rate, according to an analysis that found attrition in Pennsylvania doubled in the 2022-23 school year. New studies paint a complex picture of the national pipeline.
Matt Rourke/AP