Teacher Recruitment: To Get the Best, You Must be the Best - Buckeye Community Hope Foundation

Teacher Recruitment: To Get the Best, You Must be the Best

By Carol S. Young, Ph.D., Director, Accountability and School Improvement Department

There is a teacher shortage, have you noticed? Too few qualified teachers are available to staff our schools this Fall. In education, we prefer collaboration over competition. But it is time to compete. Charter school leaders must aggressively seek the best teachers. A positive mindset, competitive pay and benefits, clarity of purpose, and teacher support systems will put your school in the race.

Positive Mindset
Community school leaders need a positive mindset to compete well. Focus on your school’s purpose and make no apologies. View your school as having the capacity to win over great teachers. One of the first books I read when I started working with charter schools was Born to Rise by Deborah Kenny (2012). Kenny went to great lengths and traveled near and far to attract founding teachers for the first Harlem Village Academy.

Today her founder’s statement still reads, “When we began Harlem Village Academies, we set out to attract the best and brightest minds. We have accomplished that–our schools are filled with the most brilliant, driven, fun, passionate teachers in the field. Together, we are building schools that inspire us to fall in love with teaching again and again each year.” When I read her statement, I wanted to go and teach with Deborah Kenny.

Competitive Pay and Benefits
Money does count. Studies continue to show that teacher pay, especially at entry levels, falls significantly behind the salary of other professions. Schools must demonstrate that they can take care of a teacher’s financial needs. Community schools should carefully benchmark their salary and insurance benefits with surrounding districts and other charters. While teacher applicants may be willing to accept a position with somewhat lower salaries for clear advantages like smaller class sizes, the gap cannot be too wide (USDOE, 2024).

All schools, even small community schools, need to have written documentation of their salary and benefit offers, including pay dates for the upcoming school year. Teachers continue to hear reports about charter schools that do not pay teachers on time or that cut or freeze salaries mid-year. Assure applicants that your school has sound, long-standing fiscal practices. Involve veteran teachers in your recruitment and interviewing efforts; their stories can attest to your school’s reliability. 

Clarity of Purpose
Buckeye Community Hope Foundation’s sponsored schools fulfill important missions. Why not talk about these? School leaders and recruitment teams must be prepared to tell success stories unique to your school. Everyone wants to join a winning team.

Consider the following two scenarios. In scenario one, an applicant parks his car in the parking lot of the school but can barely make out the name of the school which is blowing in the breeze on a paper banner. He walks in and is taken to an interview room with folding chairs and a cluttered table of materials. The interview is an informal chat with the school leader. At the end of the interview, the leader offers the position to the teacher.

In scenario two, an applicant parks his car in the parking lot beside an artistically designed, solid-wood sign with the school’s name. He walks into a secure foyer, is buzzed through security, and sees a hallway featuring pictures of graduates and their success stories. A student ambassador takes him to a well-resourced classroom for the interview. The interview is a structured series of questions by a team of administrators and teachers. The team members sometimes stray from the questions to enthusiastically tell success stories about the school. At the end of the interview, he is told to expect a call within 3 days. Two days later, the school leader calls with the specifics of a positive offer. Which position would you take? Remember, everyone wants to join a winning team.

As leaders, we forget that applicants are interviewing us as much as we are interviewing them. They check out our websites; they read reviews. Two years ago, I recommended one of my former college students for a position with a BCHF-sponsored school. She went to the interview and was immediately offered the position based on my recommendation. The applicant deliberated but turned down the position. She explained to me, “It was all so non-structured that it worried me.”

Support Systems
To win over new teachers, you must convince them of your support. Even after training and student teaching, new teachers are NEW. As you interview, assure new teachers of your investment in their success. Robyn Jackson (2021) urges leaders to convey the confidence and commitment that ALL teachers can become expert teachers. Beginning with a structured orientation and onboarding process, you must be able to discuss how you will support new hires. Highlight support systems the school provides on an ongoing basis— coaching, curricular materials, and professional development programs. Mention the school’s support personnel including school nurses, counselors, and special educators.

Community schools in Ohio are smaller, more flexible, and adaptable to educator needs and career advancement interests. If you prepare and present these assets well, your school CAN attract the best teachers. So, as you recruit and hire teachers, get into the game, and position your school competitively. Your students deserve the absolute best!


Jackson, R. (2021). Stop leading, start building: Turn your school into a success story with the people and resources you already have. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Kenny, D. (2012). Born to rise: A story of children and teachers reaching their highest potentials. New York: Harper.

U.S. Department of Education (2024). Raise the bar: Eliminate the educator shortage. Retrieved from Raise the Bar: Eliminate the Educator Shortage | U.S. Department of Education

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