Date of this Version
DeVore-Wedding, B. R. (2017). Beyond the City Lights: A Multiple-Case Study of Successful, Experienced Secondary Science Teachers in Rural Schools. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Recruitment and retention concerns for teachers, particularly in rural school districts and in science, fill the daily news and research literature. The shortage of STEM workers is also another concern as well. Then why do nationally recognized secondary science teachers remain in rural schools with lower salaries, increased responsibilities beyond teaching content, and multi-preparations, stay in those schools? How do they overcome challenges in their schools?
This multiple case study focuses on Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) awardees who have taught secondary science in rural school districts 10 years or more. Eight rural PAEMST high school science teachers were identified in Nebraska and the six contiguous states; four consented to participate in this study. Interviews of these teachers and a colleague, principal, and or students were conducted to answer the research questions.
Using a lens of resiliency, similarities were identified that show how these teachers overcome adversity and thrived in their rural school and communities. Resilient themes that emerged from this study are adaptability, autonomy, collaborative, competency, connectedness, problem-solvers, and resourcefulness. Common themes of success for teaching in rural schools for the four teachers were autonomy and relationships. Common themes of challenges for teaching in rural schools were diversity, funding, professional isolation, and teaching assignments. These characteristics and strategies may help schools with their recruitment and retention of teachers as well as teachers themselves benefiting from hearing other teachers’ stories of success and longevity.
Advisor: Julie Thomas