Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Rachel Pienta


Teacher attrition continues to impact public schools that seek to retain teachers in the classroom and meet rising enrollment rates. The recruitment of experienced career changing professionals into the educational workforce is a viable option to address teacher shortages. In addition, while the use of mentorship may support teacher retention and job satisfaction for novice teachers, inconsistencies in mentoring practices have limited the effectiveness of mentoring programs and support systems. The problem of limited research that examines the needs of career changing teachers (CCTs) and their initial mentoring experiences was addressed in this study. The social learning theory and Maslow's hierarchy of needs frameworks were used in this phenomenological study to explore perceptions of 15 novice CCTs from the middle or high school levels, who had completed 1 to 5 years of teaching service. The research questions focused on CCTs' perceptions of their mentoring experience, and the support they needed as novice teachers. Data collected from 2 rounds of semistructured interviews were analyzed with a multilevel coding approach to identify patterns and emergent themes. Emergent themes revealed CCTs' experiences and skills as viable teaching candidates, perceptions of their mentoring experiences, and support and retention needs. The findings revealed CCTs' desire for support in mentorship availability and quality, improvement in instructional pedagogy, and the promotion of emotional resiliency and job satisfaction. Recommendations point to the need for mentorship as ongoing practice, the personalization of mentorship programs, and the leveraging of professional development practices to provide mentoring support. The major implications for social change are the improvement of mentoring program design and the implementation for the development and retention of highly effective teachers to impact student achievement.