Teachers in PD

WCS teachers at work in professional development

Saying “we’ve got some work to do,” Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden shared some sobering results with Board of Education members Thursday night from a survey of district teachers that was taken as the 2021-22 school year came to a close in May.

Some of the numbers, revealed by Golden in a PowerPoint presentation during the board’s monthly work session, were rather eye-opening. Teachers at elementary, middle and high school levels were asked if they feel valued by five different entities within the WCS education system — administrators, parents, central office, school board and the community at large.

With responses coming from about one-third of those who were surveyed, teachers felt most valued by their principals and students’ parents, as high as 78 percent of them. At the lower end, however, were school board members with only 29 percent of elementary teachers, 27 percent of middle teachers and 23 percent of high school teachers.

The WCS central office didn’t fare much better at 38, 36 and 33 percent, respectively, among elementary, middle and high teachers.

“Teachers feel most valued by their administrators and parents,” Golden said as he introduced the presentation. “If you look at us, the central office and school board, we’ve got some work to do in letting our teachers know we value them.

“My life experience is, when you’re interacting with somebody and they develop that trust, they’re going to feel valuable. So I would suggest that the more we interact with the people that are serving students, the better off they’re going to be and the more they’re going to feel valued and the more we’re going to be able to grow this.”

Some board members seemed surprised by the results, even shocked in at least one case. 

Eric Welch

School board member Eric Welch said survey results were scary.

“So this is scary,” said District 10 member Eric Welch. “Our greatest asset that we have in the school system is teachers in the classroom, and we have fewer than one in four of our teachers in an anonymous survey telling us that they feel valued by this board. There’s no positive spin on this. That’s a bad number right there.”

To try and determine why teachers seem so undervalued by the board, members will have the opportunity to read some of the educators’ comments included in the survey results.

Vickie Hall, assistant superintendent for Human Resources, said the general theme within the comments was teachers feeling the central office and board are out of touch with what goes on inside the school buildings.

To really get to the root of things, Golden said WCS has partnered with Gallop to produce a research-based employment satisfaction survey in the fall. District staff and board members will meet with Gallop Aug. 22 for planning.  

“Because this is research based,” Golden said, “because Gallop has national longitudinal data for comparison, we know that what we learn from our teachers is going to give us tools to do a better job of serving them.”

Click here to view the 3-hour work session Thursday night.