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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Benerd School of Education

First Advisor

Dennis C. Brennan

First Committee Member

Thomas Nelson

Second Committee Member

Donald E. Larsen

Third Committee Member

Katey S. Talbot


For the past 25 years, many high schools have taken several different approaches to educating students. These changes have been based on the conditions that we find many of our high schools in across the nation, particularly in our high poverty, urban areas. Crime is on the rise, drop out rates are at an all-time high, students are leaving high school with test scores that quite simply embarrass our nation as a whole, and many, if not most of our students in overcrowded high schools, (some topping 5,000 students) are making it through their four years without much true contact with a meaningful adult. Many families, educators, researchers, non-profit organizations, school districts, states, and even some governmental agencies have teamed up to try to find solutions to our students not being adequately prepared for college or the work force. Several high schools across the nation have taken one of many innovative approaches to educating students. These include, but are not limited to, charter schools, Schools-within-a-school models, the Big Picture Schools model, the Coalition of Essential Schools model, the America's Choice model, alternative schools, focus or theme-based schools, and small learning communities. Statistics have shown that these types of schools are making positive strides in educating high school students as well as preparing them for the work force and making them productive members of society. This study takes an in-depth look at several small high school models of choice. In addition, the researcher looks at teachers and at some of the reasons why they chose to work at a small innovative high school. The themes that emerged from the data were used to develop a profile of those teachers. Moreover, a list of recommendations is given for administrators who may be interested in recruiting teachers for a small school of choice.



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