The Hudson City School District is pleased to announce that it is a recipient of the NoVo Education First Teacher Morale and Retention Grant. The District is set to receive up to $50,000 in grant funds to help address declining morale and retention rates among school staff resulting from pandemic-related stressors.

“During these times of uncertainty, many educators have been looking for strength and leadership to support students while simultaneously treading their own unknown paths,” said Dr. Spindler, Superintendent of Schools. “Social-emotional wellbeing is just as important for our educators, so the Board started exploring opportunities that might help demonstrate the importance of taking care of the people who take care of our students.”

Many school systems are seeing the cliched but real “burnout” caused by increased demands on teachers and escalating student behaviors brought on by the pandemic. Across the country, educators are feeling overwhelmed and under supported, and this has created poor morale, a re-evaluation of priorities, and sometimes a questioning of one’s value within the school system.

“Thirty years ago, teachers started their careers as teachers and they didn’t leave until retirement,” said Dr. Spindler. “That’s not happening as much today, and this grant gives us the opportunity to conduct a root cause analysis of why there may be a lack of teacher morale or teacher retention.”

The District will use the opportunity to participate in the NOVO/Education First Teacher Morale and Retention project to devote more resources to understanding the root causes of poor morale, and to collaboratively design solutions to improve the system.

“We believe that by involving representative stakeholders as a team to identify and address the root causes of this issue, we can develop an improvement plan that will support colleagues and build a stronger system,” said Dr. April Prestipino, Assistant Superintendent for School Improvement. “It will require an exploration of individual experiences as well as a better understanding of the support systems our educators need.”

Hudson Junior High School teacher Mollie Zucker said, “It is encouraging to know that our district leadership recognizes that teachers need support and they are putting in the energy to figure out how to best support us.”

The District is hopeful that this study project will provide a platform for necessary intervention and new inspirations for its teachers. Examples of how the grant funds will be used include:

  • Compensation for staff participating on the Study Team that will work to unravel and understand the root causes of declining morale/retention
  • Expenses related to relevant conferences, workshops, small group or district-wide activities, etc. identified through Study Team conversations
  • Wages of substitute teachers supplying coverage for teachers attending Study Team meetings, workshops, conferences or Professional Learning Communities during the school day

The District plans to begin this intensive study this spring and, based on the findings, develop a district-wide teacher morale and retention improvement plan over the next year.

“The Board of Education is very excited about our partnership with NoVo,” shared Board president, Willette Jones. “As a Board, we’re always looking for ways to enhance the student and teacher experience without passing the burden on to our taxpayers. We plan to continue pursuing grant opportunities like this in the future.”