PMP312: Ideas for Teacher Recruitment and Retention with Kristi Kirschner and Danny Massey

Schools across the U.S. continue to respond to teacher shortages. On September 1, the White House announced recruitment partnerships to addresses the challenges. Groups like the National Center for Grow have partnered with states including California, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming, to design apprenticeship programs to help shape policy and provide feedback to the Department of Labor.

In Brazosport Independent School District, south of Houston, Texas, education leaders have launched innovative programs addressing the need as well. This week I’m joined by Brazosport ISD Superintendent Danny Massey and Kristi Kirschner, Chief Human Resources Officer, to talk about ways their district is responding to teacher recruitment and retention.

Danny Massey has been in public education for 33 years. He has been an educator in the Brazosport Independent School District for 31 of those years.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri Southern State College, holds a master’s in education from Texas Southern University and a superintendent certification from Region 4 Education Service Center and St. Thomas University in Houston. He served as a special education teacher and athletic coach, an Assistant Principal, Principal, Executive Director, Assistant Superintendent and beginning his 8th year in his current position of Superintendent of Schools.Danny has been recognized for numerous achievements including: 

  • 2020 Region 4 Education Service Center Superintendent of the Year;
  • 2020 Brazosport Area Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year; 
  • 2020 Ambassador of the Year in by the non-profit Friends of Texas Public Schools

In 2016, the Brazosport LULAC Council selected Danny as their Educator of the Year for demonstrating nthe values and characteristics of leadership to improve the economic and educational opportunities for the Hispanic community. Danny is known for his transparency, visibility, and positivity throughout the district. He is most proud of the student academic improvements throughout the district, and the passing of two bond referendums which are transforming the district with new state of the art campuses and facilities.

Kristi Kirschner serves as the Chief Human Resources Officer at Brazosport ISD.  After graduating from Stephen F. Austin State University, Kristi started her human resources career in the manufacturing and oil & gas industries, where she served in both client support and leadership roles. After 12 years in industry, she continued her human resources career in education, with the most valuable product of all: our youth. Kristi has a passion for connecting with people, finding innovative solutions and utilizing her knowledge in human resources to support the organization and human capital initiatives.

1. Can you summarize your district’s efforts in teacher recruitment and retention and how you have enhanced those efforts in light of teacher shortages?

Danny and Krist share innovative programs including:

  • Ghost Organization Hiring – filling positions ahead of attrition
  • Grow Our Own – 2 Opportunities (Earned Associates degree and complete Bachelor’s or ACP)
  • Paid University Interns
  • Apprenticeship Program -> Residency Pathway

The partnership has developed a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) to address an employer driven need to grow and develop high-quality teachers in a profession that is high growth, high demand, high skill, high wage and creates an opportunity to earn a family sustaining wage. 

With clearly defined entrances, the RAP will have the ability to meet apprentices where they are in their journey into the education profession. The four onramps have a program length of 1-4 years, including a year-long residency experience where aspiring teachers are mentored by a highly qualified teacher. The pathways includ cohorts 1-4 and meet the apprentice where they are at in the pathway to earning credentials.

Prioritizing high-quality preparation to create intentional training and development to prepare apprentices for their residency experience; without compromising staffing ratios and/or certification requirements.

The apprenticeship creates opportunities for Brazosport ISD to upskill and develop existing talent who aspire to be a teacher – 42% of our apprentices for the 22-23 school year are current employees.

This onramp placement also highlights the available talent within the pipeline for the next four years.  

2. Please talk more about your partnerships with the Department of Labor and your local Community Colleges. What suggestions would you have for other education leaders looking to build stronger partnerships?

Brazosport has taken advantage of the following:

  • Foundation of the partnership needs to be focused on common goals
  • Understand challenges and pain points for each partner
  • Opportunities to push each other’s thinking
  • Explore discussions regarding Reinvestment, Reallocation and Reduction to support financial aspects of the partnership
  • Communication
  • Opportunities to lift each partners role in the space
  • Intentional efforts to share the message -> always present and communicate as a Team

3. What are some of the outcomes you’ve seen in retention using innovative approaches like apprenticeships, paying interns and “ghost” openings?

  • 92% retention rate of paid clinical teachers
  • Investment in the employee’s development increases retention
  • Mentor stipends
  • High-quality teachers
  • Creating teacher leader opportunities for Mentors who support year-long residents (added support in the classroom, leadership & training, stipends)
  • The Ghost organization allows HR to hire candidates ahead of attrition, so the candidate doesn’t continue looking for another opportunity because we were having to keep them “warm”.

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Want to learn more about Brazosport programs? Watch the videos linked below!

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker