Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Higher Education

First Advisor

Joel Amidon

Second Advisor

Ann Monroe

Third Advisor

Joe Sweeney


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



This transcendental phenomenological study focused on determining the factors contributing to teacher exits from Mississippi schools during and since the global COVID-19 pandemic. Developing a more robust understanding of the teacher labor market and teacher exits is vital to ensuring that students can access a high-quality education. Participants identified the COVID-19–related factors that influenced their decision to exit the classroom and factors unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic. The participants felt the COVID-19 pandemic worsened their teaching experience and created additional work. One educator exited due to complications from long COVID disease. Three major findings unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as factors contributing to teachers’ exits from the Mississippi classroom, including inadequate support in the teaching role, negative relationships or experiences with administrators, and the demanding workload. The participants also shared which factors they believed would support their future reentry into the classroom. Before they would consider a return, school and system leaders would need to operate differently and obtain better training. The participants also suggested they would return to the classroom if the education system underwent a systematic overhaul. Other factors mentioned were less prevalent, such as better salaries, more autonomy over the curriculum, and families and parents showing teachers more support. The findings of this study indicate the need for administrators and principals to address those factors within their control, such as ensuring that teachers have a positive experience with their principal, a balanced workload, and the support they need to remain in their roles.



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