Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, EDD

Committee Chair

Ingle, W. Kyle

Committee Member

Powers, Deborah

Committee Member

Stark, Geneva

Committee Member

Stevens, Douglas

Committee Member

Yeager, Ray

Author's Keywords

trauma-informed classrooms; critical race theory; urban private school; Christian school; culturally relevant teaching


Students of color in low socio-economic, high crime urban areas are exposed to a higher level of trauma than their White contemporaries. The trauma that they bring into school with them create challenges for their teachers working to eliminate barrier to students’ education. Widespread efforts have been attempted to thwart the social injustices that many students of color experience in schools including disproportionality around implementation of school rules and the equitable access to curriculum. I used Critical Race Theory to frame my study around students of color in urban areas experiencing disproportionate levels of trauma, and their teachers’ level of preparedness to adequately respond to students’ needs. I conducted this qualitative study using a hermeneutic phenomenological case study to explore the lived experience of teachers in creating a socially just classroom environment for their students. From the research I found that teachers trained on and implementing trauma-informed responses to students’ maladaptive behaviors created a healing environment where students could process their emotions and removing barriers. Additionally, I found that building meaningful relationships with students, teaching coping strategies and replacement behaviors were effective in helping students improve student performance both behaviorally and academically.