Deanna Chiodo


Summer 2021



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Vivian Johnson

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Mary Barrie

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Anthony Von Bank


This qualitative research explored how three administrators and four teachers with seven or more years of experience at the same State Approved Alternative Program (SAAP) explained their decision to stay with that program and their level of professional fulfillment. Additionally, this research was designed to deepen the understanding of the path that leads individuals to teach at a SAAP, and whether the participants' understanding of how their pre-service program and on-board training prepared them to work with an at-risk population. The research design included having participants complete a researcher-created electronic survey and a 45-min semi-structured interview. The interview transcripts created detailed narratives from the four administrators and three teachers. The testimonies gathered from the participants yielded information regarding their values, practices, and supports surrounding professional fulfillment. In addition, the narratives were explored for evidence that professional fulfilment then led to increased teacher retention in SAAPs. Although a great deal of research has been done related to teacher attrition and retention in traditional and high-need schools, very little research was identified in the review of the literature specifically focused on educators fulfillment when teaching in SAAPs. The goal of this research was to narrow the gap in research and impact the teaching profession in alternative schools, specifically SAAPs. The teachers and administrators interviewed described making their way to working at a SAAPs either by accident or having been recruited and described not knowing to actively seek out employment outside of the traditional school setting. They connected this to the fact that when in college and entering the workforce there had been no exposure to SAAPs. While the experience of my participants needs to be corroborated with a larger sample it does suggest the need for university pre-service and graduate programs to build partnerships with SAAPs. Creating these partnerships and requiring education students to spend time in alternative classrooms during teacher preparation programs could lead to SAAPs improving their ability to promote their programs, tell their stories, and potentially attract more teachers interested in working in the SAAP context.

Research Methodology



At-risk Students, Teachers/ Teaching








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