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Addressing the Problem at the Source: Reflecting on the School Leadership Exodus


In a recent article, The 74 Media highlights the educational struggles post covid. Of course, we have heard a ton about teachers leaving the profession, so it isn’t surprising to learn the same is proving to be true for principals and administrators.

The publication spoke with administrators about the factors driving principals away from the field. In nearly every case, respondents cited teacher shortages, inadequate sub-services, or some sort of staffing issue as causal.

Derek Forbes, a principal in Washington State, reflects on a particularly dark moment during his third pandemic school year:

“The mental health positions he’d posted stayed vacant for the fifth month. He and his principal colleagues in the Meridian School District were now logging upwards of 60 hours a week, taking on the responsibilities of counselors, nurses, subbing as teachers, and food service workers. All while being verbally attacked at local school board meetings over curricula and mask guidelines.”


In another example, the article highlights Principal Brian Cox, who has hired seven new teachers this school year; at least two “left the field of education altogether, mid-year.” His workday starts at 2:30 am to address daily staffing challenges.


Greg Moffitt, an Assistant Principal shares a similar experience in a tweet from early in 2022.


Early in the pandemic, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) CEO Ronn Nozoe saw the writing on the wall. His main concern, even then, was the education pipeline. "Fewer candidates are entering training, higher education, and teacher preparation programs." Meanwhile, classroom teachers and school leaders leave the profession in droves.

Michael Brown, the president-elect of NASSP’s Maryland chapter and principal at Winter Mills High School, says, “states must also back ways to recruit and cultivate the next generation of teachers and administrators…Investing funds in teacher retention alone will not have the domino effect it once had.”

There is no simple solution for the widespread discontent of teachers and school leaders. Anyone working in or around a school understands that the problems are exceptionally nuanced. What’s more, those challenges exist at every phase of education: from student performance and behavior to the culture of teams, at the secondary and primary levels, in public and independent schools.

Kids are certainly hurting. Remote instruction was insufficient during the spring of 2020 following school closures. There are still impediments to high-quality teaching and learning in the disjointed years that have followed. State DOEs have made some concessions, but it is necessary to hold students to the same grade-level proficiency standards. At the end of the day, there's no getting around the fact that students of a certain age must master certain skills in order to matriculate into college and a career.

And so, it seems clear now the answer isn’t lowering expectations or making grade-level content more accessible, but rather providing more support. For many districts where resources are scarce, however, this just isn’t possible.

For these schools, the fallout from pandemic-era education is especially visible this year. Districts have ceased accomodating students with the choice to learn remotely, widespread modified grading, rudimentary curricula, etc., and have made firm commitments to bring students back up to speed. But without adequate support to do so, the reality is this:

  • Immense pressure on individual school sites, and subsequently on teachers and leaders, to compensate for lost learning

  • Grade-level curriculum for which students are ill-equipped

  • Feelings of inadequacy as students continue to fall short academically without a sufficient response to intervention

  • Amplified behavior issues as students, who believe themselves destined to failure, are thrust back into a social environment for the first time in two years

  • Feelings of underappreciation as teachers and leaders face these egregious behaviors daily

All of this seems to expedite the burn-out classroom teachers often experience after long careers under tumultuous working conditions. For some, the only answer is an extended leave or even a complete career change, lest they sacrifice their well-being to a massive detriment. It then falls on school leaders to deal with the growing number of vacancies, which as the article documents, is in and of itself the cause of massive job-related stress.

There are no quick fixes to these problems - that much is certain. But we at Shoreline believe there is another way to address the real source - a lack of adequate support for students. This goes both for schools experiencing staffing issues and those underresourced for the interventions needed to effectively close lost learning gaps.

Shoreline provides this support in the form of high-quality staffing solutions.

We know what you’re thinking: How are we able to identify qualified educators for temporary and long-term positions when so many districts cannot retain staff? Where are these teachers coming from?

The truth is that teachers are leaving their positions with school districts, but not shedding their identities or their passions for making a difference in the lives of young people. Our network of educators is able to exclusively focus on the student-facing portion of the work and maintain schedules that enable self-care and the prioritization of family.

Upon our inception in 2017, we immediately began building what is now a vast network of teachers, administrators, coaches, and various specialists. Since then, we have served schools throughout New England with educational solutions. In many cases, we have developed long-standing partnerships with districts or particular school sites. Leaders of partner schools call on Shoreline to help identify qualified personnel for long-standing vacancies, or in new roles meant to support emerging student needs.

In a pre-pandemic school culture, we primarily focused on Special Education services, ESL and TESOL, homebound instruction, as well as some core content tutoring and instruction. From each distinct placement, we learned valuable lessons that have helped Shoreline become what it is today: an effective resource for schools, well poised for the issues currently facing education. We are able to quickly mobilize highly qualified personnel to fill vacant positions. Perhaps more important to the current climate, Shoreline is an ideal resource for the supplemental interventions students will need to truly get back on track.

To find out more about who we are and what we do, or to inquire about a request for service, visit www.shorelinetutors.com






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