Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Elinor Scheirer

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Galloway

Third Advisor

Dr. G. Pritchy Smith

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Fenner

Department Chair

Dr. Joyce T. Jones

College Dean

Dr. Katherine M. Kasten


This qualitative study examined how experienced African American teachers in predominantly African American schools perceived and conceptualized their worklives as classroom teachers, and, how they viewed their personal and professional identities in relationship to their lives as teachers. In depth interviews of 10 experienced African American teachers provided the data for the study, analyzed through the interpretative use of appropriate literature screens. The teachers understood their experience of teacher worklife and their lives as human beings through three distinct dimensions of personal and professional identity: the self, including perceptions of race and gender; the interactive dimension within the educational environment; and transcendent notions of calling and personal spirituality within the global dimension.

This study underscored how deeply the notion of race is woven into the societal fabric of America. These teachers described an educational environment beset with the same ills as the larger society in terms of cross-racial interaction and relationships among teachers and between teachers and students. In the end, the teachers' collective voice is fundamentally optimistic and resilient, as they looked towards the future with a sense of hope born of a shared and deeply-rooted personal spirituality.

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