Angela Michaels




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Frederick Milacci


Educator Turnover, Rural, Values


The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to describe how former educators of a rural school district in the Northeastern Appalachian Mountain Range in the United States described their values and their perceptions of the values of the rural school district where they formerly worked. Eight participants were interviewed when data saturation was reached. Research questions attempted to reveal similarities and differences in the values of former educators and their perceptions of the Woodstown community’s values. The guiding theories of this study were sociocultural theory, cognitive dissonance theory, and culture of poverty theory. Sociocultural theory supported the connection between environment, cognition, and behavior, while cognitive dissonance theory helped elucidate how dissonance between environmental factors and cognition might lead to a specific behavior such as leaving the rural school setting. Culture of poverty theory provided a framework for understanding the relationship between the demographics and culture of the rural community and the perceived educational values of said community compared to the educators’ educational values. A review of the literature indicated a need for research in the area of rural education. Data collection was triangulated using semi-structured interviews, participant surveys, focus groups, and documents such as school board meeting minutes and published reports of those meetings, student achievement scores, and demographic information. A seven-step phenomenological data analysis process was used to identify common themes and perceptions. Three themes were uncovered from the data collection including (a) the development of positive interpersonal relationships, (b) the pursuit of lifelong growth and learning, and (c) the desire for a certain level of security and stability. Educator values were found to differ from rural community values which sometimes led to turnover.