Rome City School District Launches New Partnership to Support and Improve Employee Engagement and Retention

Rome City School District announced a new partnership with Upbeat, an innovative teacher retention organization led by former teachers and school leaders. The collaboration reflects the district’s commitment to retain highly qualified faculty and staff members in order to provide an education of equity and excellence for all students.

“We see Upbeat adding a tremendous amount of value not only to us but also to other districts in the state,” Rome City Superintendent Peter Blake said. “We want to get specific data in key areas to understand what our staff want and need to create a culture where they feel seen, heard, valued, and want to stay in the district.”

The district has committed to working with Upbeat through spring 2024. Throughout the partnership, Upbeat will administer a comprehensive research-based survey to Rome City’s certified and classified staff each spring and fall to measure growth in research-based categories that impact teacher retention, including school climate, hiring and onboarding, professional development, and teacher appreciation. The district will administer its first Upbeat survey this month.

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After analyzing the staff engagement data, district leaders will work with an Upbeat Leadership Coach, a former district or school leader, to examine data and understand key insights in the district’s current retention and engagement efforts. Upbeat will also provide Rome City with exit surveys and analysis into why teachers are leaving the district.

“School districts across both New York and the country have been challenged with hiring shortages; figuring out what and how to support staff needs is crucial for retention,” Henry Wellington, Founder and CEO of Upbeat said.

Upbeat also began a partnership with Arkport Central School District in Arkport, NY last winter. In its first survey administration, Arkport district leaders worked with a Leadership Coach to identify strengths, including Employee and Principal Trust and Work/Life Balance, and action plan on areas of growth, including Appreciation and Cultural Competence.

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“Faculty and staff don’t get survey fatigue; they get inaction fatigue. You can survey them, but if you don’t do anything with it, that’s where they lose interest,” Arkport Superintendent Jesse Harper said. “When we come back and do the spring Upbeat survey, we can talk about what we’ve tried to do from each survey administration.”

In their action planning, Arkport is prioritizing its professional development to ensure it meets teachers’ needs, and Superintendent Harper deliberately highlights teachers during Arkport Board meetings and on social media. Arkport will administer their spring survey later this month.

“Rome City and Arkport have both shown that they value employee voices and want to take steps to ensure satisfaction,” Wellington said. “We’re excited to partner with Rome City and Arkport and provide district leaders the data they need to best support and retain their staff.”

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