Securing the Workforce: Insights from the 2023-24 NBOA Leadership Academy

To combat teacher shortages, consider pipeline programs, housing incentives, teacher training centers, and targeted marketing.

Apr 23, 2024

secure employment concept

The following summary focuses on the 2024 report, “Innovative Strategies for Securing the Future Independent School Workforce.” The report’s authors include Kelly Carlson, Donna Scott, Gina Fuller and Katherine Perretta. Mentor: Dallas Joseph, CFO at Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, served as the peer mentor.

Teacher shortages, while a persistent issue in education, have reached a critical level for both public and independent schools in recent years. The ongoing decline in undergraduates choosing education careers, which has been observed since the 1970s, has significantly contributed to this challenge. Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, resulting in the departure of over 300,000 K-12 educators. These facts underscore the urgent need for proactive measures to address the shortage in independent schools.

Given the severity of the teacher shortages, what proactive steps can be taken to attract and retain educators in the independent school sector? How can schools effectively promote teaching as a rewarding career path for undergraduates? What innovative strategies can schools implement to ensure a steady supply of qualified teachers?

To tackle these questions and gather real-world insights, the learning cohort implemented a mixed-methods approach, combining interviews with a comprehensive literature review. This review encompassed academic publications, industry reports and relevant studies, with a specific focus on hiring practices in higher education settings. In addition, structured interviews with key personnel offered diverse perspectives, shedding light on operational and strategic aspects of recruitment. Interview participants included business officers, heads of school, HR professionals and admissions directors.

Key Strategies

The research suggests four main strategies to address the teacher shortage in independent schools:

  1. Developing Robust Partnerships: This includes creating partnerships and pipelines into teaching, targeting diverse demographics to address the shortage at its roots.
  2. Offering Housing Incentives: Schools can attract and retain teachers by providing forgivable loans, deposit/down payment assistance or constructing teacher-specific apartment complexes. Considerations include cost-effectiveness, community impact, equity, geographic relevance and long-term viability.
  3. Enhancing or Establishing Teacher Training Centers: These centers play a crucial role in attracting career changers to education by offering specialized programs and flexible pathways. Different models (e.g., peer-to-peer leadership training, innovative teaching method workshops, corporate-style professional development) have varying implications and require alignment with educational goals and standards.
  4. Leveraging Marketing: Schools should showcase the unique and innovative aspects of a career in independent schools through success stories, career growth potential, and impact on the future. Targeted marketing approaches are essential for attracting and retaining qualified educators, including creating comprehensive job listings, building a strong social media presence, utilizing SEO and collaborating within school associations.

Leaders must balance modern strategies with the preservation of their school's identity, ensuring the well-being and professional growth of educators. This requires creating a compelling narrative for recruitment that aligns with the school's values, positioning it as a desirable and sustainable workplace.


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