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Dude, Where’s My Starbucks?

What is important to you when looking into a new job? Benefits? Salary? Vacation? Location?

You might be surprised to learn that like Realtors, the mantra “location, location, location” also rings true for teachers and administrators … especially when it comes to deciding whether to take a job in a rural school. Often times, the desire to have a Starbucks, mall and movie theater down the road means more than a bigger paycheck.

Conveniences like coffee shops and shopping centers are important to teachers and principals figuring our their next move.

We sat down with Dr. Kevin Brady, assistant professor of educational leadership, to discuss his recent study examining educational leadership in rural schools in North Carolina. During our interview, we discussed some of the problems rural schools face – mainly, the difficulty of recruiting and retaining good teachers and administrators.

He explained that often qualified teachers will get an administrative position in a rural school in order to get experience that they can turn into an administrative job at an urban or suburban school. He’s found in other studies that salaries really aren’t as big of a factor as many people think in terms of recruiting teachers. Location is the big selling point.

Brady believes programs like Teach for America are great because they bring highly educated teachers into classrooms in underserved parts of the country – but they only amount to putting a Band-Aid on the problem.

“If we want to instill long-term success in rural schools, we need to have excellent teachers and administrators that will stay on board for a long period of time. Every time a school brings in a new principal, it changes up how the school is run,” Brady says. “Continuity is pivotal in terms of educational leadership.”

Brady continues to study what sort of incentives would help rural schools recruit and retain the next generation of leaders in the classroom. His study on rural education in North Carolina is slated to appear in an upcoming issue of The Rural Educator.