Principal and teacher perspectives on cultivating fit in Catholic high schools : a multiple case study.


Schools routinely struggle with retaining teachers each academic year. In Catholic schools, when teachers leave, the school seeks to hire a teacher who understands and supports the educational and religious mission found within the school. However, this is not always practical, thus causing Catholic schools to select individuals who might satisfy only part of the dual mission. Hiring less mission-oriented teachers requires the school to provide further professional development on the school’s mission. This study used a qualitative multiple case study to explore three Catholic high schools’ processes for hiring and cultivating fit in their mission-driven environments. I used the theoretical framework of person-organization fit theory (Chatman, 1991) to answer the research questions on how Catholic high school administrators cultivate fit in their school and the faculty’s experience of fit within the educational and religious mission found in these private schools. I used purposive sampling to select three schools which served as the cases in this study, the principals and teachers of each school served as embedded units within each case. I conducted semi-structured interviews with each high school principal and received permission to distribute questionnaires to their faculty. From this questionnaire, I purposively selected five teachers based on their questionnaire responses. These five teachers then participated in a focus group interview. Data analysis consisted of coding, identifying themes, within-case analysis, and cross-case analysis. The findings of this study indicated that Catholic high school principals cultivate fit through beginning-of-the-year retreats that provide religious mission onboarding for faculty and an emphasis on the use of prayer during gatherings. Findings also showed that during the hiring process, school principals rely on supplementary fit of the individual’s values and ability to fit within the cultural norms of the school. Catholic school principals could use these findings to create instruments that more precisely address an applicant’s ability to fit within the culture present at the school and in planning intentional mission development experiences beyond one-time experiences for faculty.