Subject Area



The purpose of this study is to debunk negative stereotypes that surround educators in urban schools and depict how high-performing veteran teachers became the resilient educators they are now. Teachers are the greatest determiner of student success (Marzano et al., 2001). Therefore, understanding our highest-performing teachers in our schools is imperative. Skaalvik and Skaalvik (2011) found that a staggering percentage of the teachers who entered the field left within their first three to five years of teaching. Understanding our highest performing teachers with five plus years of experiences through research is necessary.

This generic qualitative study utilized Polidore’s Theoretical Model of Resilience in Education (Polidore et al., 2014) to better understand how an individual’s ecological sphere developed them into high-performing teachers. I sought to answer one research question. How do veteran teacher’s personal and professional background and early teaching experiences shape their decision to remain and shape their self-perceived attitudes in the teacher profession?

Eight participants walk readers through their early childhoods and early careers so that we are better able to understand how their unique experiences enabled them to become resilient educators. They all went on to become either Teacher of The Year for their school or Teacher of The Year for their district. These educators are the highest regarded educators in their districts.

Findings revealed that participant’s personal and professional background and early teaching experiences greatly impacted their teaching careers. These educators were deeply committed individuals, they had strong relationships, they had positive mindsets, and found great joy in their jobs. Additionally, the study revealed the importance of teacher consistency in K-12 learning. These educators consistently want to improve, learn and emphatically maintain the assertion that all students can succeed. Understanding, high-performing veteran teachers is extremely important and research needs to continue to expand on this topic.

Degree Date

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name



Education Policy and Leadership


Meredith Richards

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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Education Commons