Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Sandra Guzman-Foster


Diane Fisher


Roxanna Nelson


Research Focus. Research tells us that it takes years of deliberate practice and ongoing coaching to become an “expert” in any field and that it can take from 3 to 7 years for a new teacher to grow into an effective educator. Yet, in America today, more than 50% of teachers quit in their first 5 years of service. In low performing economically disadvantaged schools, teachers leaving the profession in their first 3 years increases to 60%. The impact of highly effective teachers on students’ success can be seen through the increase in percentile on Math scores, moving the needle from 44th to 96th percentile. Although there are complexities surrounding the issue of teacher effectiveness measurement, we can agree on the fact that effective teachers make an extraordinary and lasting impact on their students’ lives.

Research Methods. This research utilized a constructivist grounded theory approach to conceptualize why former teachers in a low performing economically disadvantaged urban school district in San Antonio, Texas left their classroom. Additionally, this research examined how a campus principal serving as mentor might impact retention rates. The hope is that, by bridging the gap between turnover and retention, districts can better protect their most prized assets and influencers, their teachers.

Research Results/Findings. The findings broke down into two themes, the challenges of administrators and the perceived needs of teachers. While the participants discussed the role of principals as mentors, the discussion points also revolved around the challenges administrators face. While it is not too much to except administrators to serve as mentors for new teachers, all of the participants mentioned the obstacles or challenges that might prevent principals from serving as mentors. Around the challenges that administrators face, four sub-themes were identified: workload, high turnover, lack of cohesiveness/relationship and trust building, and mentorship approaches. Participants also highlighted the perceived needs of teachers and identified factors that contributed to teachers’ needs in terms of mentoring. The analysis of these factors yielded three sub-themes: support, professional development, and performance assessment.

Conclusions from Research. This research highlights the importance of mentoring new teachers. The principal as mentor serves as both a guide to accessing and understanding the curriculum as well as helping teachers adapt to the campus climate and culture. A crucial component of the mentoring process is trust and communication. The new teacher must feel safe approaching their mentor, otherwise the novice teacher may be reluctant to seek assistance. Is this role, the principal must serve as coach, cheerleader, role model, and trusted confidant, as well as appraiser and manager.