Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Tricia Browne-Ferrigno


Teacher retention rates are staggeringly low across the United States. Nearly 20% of public school teachers leave their position from one year to the next, a majority of schools have a turnover rate of 50% every three years, and over 50% of teachers leave the education field within the first five years of employment. This retention problem impacts all type of public school systems—urban, suburban, and rural school districts.

This study examined teacher retention in elementary and secondary schools in three rural school districts in eastern Kentucky. Review of district and school documents about teacher retention informed the selection of participants. School districts and specific schools in rural eastern Kentucky with higher retention rates than the average teacher retention of public schools in Kentucky were study sites. Data were collected through individual interviews with superintendents and principals and through focus-group interviews with teachers to gain their perspectives about what influenced the higher teacher retention.

Analysis of data identified themes for high teacher retention. The findings suggest that a strong familial school culture among teachers and with school administrators positively impacts teacher retention. High teacher retention is also influenced by Appalachian culture and teachers' desires to contribute to the local community beyond the school building and have a positive impact on the future of the local community’s youth.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)