Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor's Name

Kristen Wilcox

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Emily Anderson

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Laura Dinehart

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


teacher, teacher retention, single mothers, ethnic minority

Date of Defense



Teachers are leaving the profession at high rates. Salary, support, and workload are factors that have contributed to this phenomenon. Teachers who are single mothers and are the sole providers of their households in all aspects, including financial, emotional, and physical find themselves questioning their career choice and the constant inner struggle of being an effective teacher and super mom. Little research has explored the personal lives and responsibilities of educators, particularly those of single mothers, to understand and address their needs and reasons for leaving the teaching profession. This research holds implications for policy, practice, and future scholarship on teacher retention.

This study is framed by feminist theory which posits that the patriarchal system in place forges women’s career paths and daily lives, creating a deep impact on single mothers who are working full-time as classroom teachers. Feminist theory also frames this study by giving the participants the opportunity of sharing their experiences, which can lead to discourse and change. Gender identification and marital status shape individuals’ experiences but so too do other characteristics such as ethnicity. This study is complemented by an intersectional lens (i.e. a lens through which power is seen to derive from various aspects of an individual’s position in society) can help reveal the ways an educator’s gender, marital and child-rearing status, and ethnicity relate to their experiences.

Large diverse urban districts across the United States have sought to hire and retain teachers of color yet face a variety of challenges. The site of this study, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS), is one of the largest and most diverse urban districts in the nation. MDCPS’s workforce is 81% ethnic minority and 84%of these educators are women.

The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of ethnic minority single mothers who have left the teacher workforce in MDCPS and to identify causes for their leaving. The goal is to identify potential measures that could be taken to retain ethnic minority single mothers who are teachers in the future. This study uses a narrative inquiry approach with a sample of three participants who were interviewed using three- in depth interviews to explore their lived experiences in teaching. Through the approach of narrative inquiry, I afforded a space for ethnic minority single mothers who have left the teaching profession through several interviews to share their stories and experiences. The participants’ stories have been organized by: Biographical Information and Cultural Context; Experiences Before, During and After the Classroom; Perceived Influences; and Understanding Her Story. After several phases of coding, I identified patterns and unique findings across the participants’ stories. The cross-cutting analysis has merged their stories with the available research concerning ethnic minority teachers, single mothers, and teacher attrition.





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