White Shield School sees improved teacher retention with four-day week

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 7:49 PM CDT
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WHITE SHIELD, N.D. (KMOT) – Most of us were shuffled into schools five days a week throughout our school careers, but that’s not the case for these White Shield students.

Logan Adams, a seventh grader and basketball player, began the four-day experience with White Shield School in 2020.

”I go to tournaments every weekend and I would be missing a day of school sometimes,” said Adams.

He said he liked the change. Sunni Ortega, a seventh grader, is on the same page.

”I spend my Fridays sitting in my room, talking to my mom, playing around with my brother,” said Ortega.

Besides the students, seventh-grade teacher Shaunna Knife said the flexibility helps the job not take such a heavy toll. Knife said before, she used weekends to prep and plan.

”I like to have a little more me-time and self-care time as a teacher, which you need,” said Knife.

Superintendent Wayne Fox said they started taking this policy seriously, not only so students and parents could make other commitments, but for teacher retention as well. Fox said they were losing three or four teachers annually.

”I think rural schools, you need to do almost everything just to recruit teachers at this point,” said Fox.

Now, he said, the average is one.

”Teachers haven’t complained about it. Students definitely haven’t complained about it,” said Knife.

Fox said in the beginning, parents complained because of their work schedules and said, as a parent himself, he understood.

”It has worked out very well due to our boys and girls club, due to our fitness or community center,” said Fox.

He said the pay barely changed too because the teachers are hourly workers and sometimes, they stay long after students have left to prepare for the next day.

Knife said that students’ academic performance is about the same as it was before they switched to four-day weeks.

The school is open on Warrior days, which are half-days scheduled a couple of Fridays a month for students to get extra help and for teachers to plan curriculum.