Retaining teachers has a positive impact on students, and the effect has been noticeable at Premont ISD in the aftermath of a teacher exodus.
“Some (teachers) stayed and the kids picked up on it — that they care,” said Premont High history teacher and head coach Richard Russell.
Russell has taught for 29 years, half of which have been at Premont ISD. He has seen what it was like before he left for nine years, and after he returned to coach basketball in 2009.
“I’ve thought about leaving, but I like the town. I like the kids,” he said. “I want to stay here until we go back to a regular school.”
Russell came back after the basketball coach left to take a job at another high school. It was a year after the district had its highest turnover in the previous decade. It was also the first year that Premont was rated “academically unacceptable” by the Texas Education Agency.
Students also began to leave to attend school in other districts. Premont proactively sought grants to retain teachers. They were among 17 schools statewide in 2014 to receive a grant funding disadvantaged schools to recruit, hire, and retain good teachers. They hired four master teachers for each of the four content areas of math, science, reading and social studies. Four mentor teachers work in the classroom and also mentor new teachers, including Russell.