Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dr. Terri L. Edwards


AbstractTeachers have a higher yearly turnover rate than all other occupations. Retention issues are of major concern in rural U.S. schools, where it can be challenging to retain highly qualified teachers. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore teachers’ perspectives of remaining in the rural classroom in the Southeast United States. The conceptual framework included Day and Gu’s resilience theory and Maslow’s theory of motivation. Data were collected from 12 rural elementary teachers through individual Zoom or phone interviews. The research question focused on teachers’ perspectives of remaining in the rural classroom in schools in the Southeast United States. A total of 12 rural elementary teachers having 10 to 30 plus years of experience in rural school districts in the Southeast United States shared their perspectives in semistructured interviews. Open and axial coding were used to analyze data. Through thematic analysis, four primary themes emerged: (a) teachers described inconsistency among school staff, (b) intrinsic motivation contributed to teachers remaining in the classroom, (c) teachers used various strategies to help them remain in the classroom, and (d) teachers placed significance on relationships and support. Despite the poor teacher retention rates in their schools, participants felt teaching was a rewarding and fulfilling profession. The study findings have the potential to create positive social change by providing administrators with the perspective of rural teachers who have remained in rural schools with poor retention rates. Further research on teachers’ perspectives of remaining in the classroom with an emphasis on teacher relationships and support is recommended.