Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Gloria Boutte


This study captured the lived experiences of three African American, female classroom teachers who left the profession within three years of beginning their careers. The main goal that led this research was to center the perspectives of African American women in the conversation about teacher retention, turnover, and attrition percentages that plague the field of education. The primary questions that guided this study were: (1) “What can be learned from the life stories of former African American female teachers who left the teaching profession from South Carolina public classrooms during their induction years?”, (2) “What do their life stories reveal about the role of gender and race in their educational histories and their experiences in the teaching profession?”, and (3) “What motivators do former African American female teacher participants identify in their decision to leave the classroom within their first five years?”

Data sources for this study included in-depth individual interviews. Data representation and analysis was informed by a life story approach which is commonly used in studies pertaining to educational phenomena (Tagg, 1985). The researcher created three personal-professional narratives of each participant, highlighting commonalities of experience, contrast of experience, and connections to extant literature.

Results from this study may be useful for informing: (1) teacher preparation in colleges of education; (2) recruitment and retention efforts for African American female teachers; and (3) support and teacher autonomy from school and district administration and leaders.


© 2021, Ashlye Victoria Wilkerson