Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Sarah J. Noonan; Thomas L. Fish; David W. Peterson


I conducted a phenomenological study of the lived experiences of veteran teachers in high-need schools and the meaning of their work. Findings from a review of scholarly literature and selection of analytical theories formed the conceptual framework for my study. In-depth interviews with experienced teachers from a number of high-need schools within an urban district provided descriptions of the work in classrooms, schools, and the broader school district. Exploring experiences of veteran teachers resulted in the identification of personal and organizational factors influencing continued commitment to teaching in high-need schools.

Findings from my analysis revealed factors influencing teacher’s continued commitment to their work in high-need schools. Factors increasing commitment to working in high-need schools included: (1) relationships with students, parents, and colleagues, (2) professionalism, and (3) values and a history of service to high-need schools. Positive relationships, growing in professionalism, and values and a history in high-need schools increased teacher satisfaction, confidence, and competency.

Findings revealed three factors decreasing teachers’ commitment to their work in high- need schools: (1) student behavior, (2) mobility of students and staff, and (3) the excessive expectations and demands of internal and external stakeholders. Student behavior, staff and student mobility, and internal and external pressures resulted in teachers experiencing a lack of control, uncertainty, and stress. Teachers adopted strategies to cope with the stress threatening the satisfaction derived from work.

Based on the findings, my recommendations focused on strategies to ensure factors increasing commitment overshadowed those decreasing teachers’ continued commitment to their work in high-need schools.


high-need schools, commitment, teachers, urban, high poverty schools

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
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