Term of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

Angela Jaime

Committee Member 3 Email




The act of teaching is one that requires dedication and perseverance. Today, teachers are oppressed by testing (GA Milestones), accountability (TKES), CCRPI scores, school safety, racism, poverty, and much more. These oppressions are working to colonize individuals based on what society deems of most importance. These oppressions can kill teachers’ passion for teaching. Nevertheless, many teachers return each year. What keeps those teachers coming back to teaching? In my dissertation research, I explore how teachers maintain passion for teaching when they are looked down upon and deskilled (Apple, 1982; also Anyon, 1997; Giroux, 1988; Nuñez, 2015). Theoretically my dissertation work builds upon a wide array of indigenous perspectives (e.g., Absolon, 2010; Cardinal, 2001; Chilisa, 2012; Denzin, Lincoln, & Smith, 2008; Grande, 2015; Kovach, 2009; Tuck & Yang, 2013; Wilson, 2008). Methodologically my participants and I engage in Jo-ann Archibald’s (2008) Storywork to dive into the spiritual (spirit), emotional (heart), intellectual (mind), and physical (body) aspects of teaching with the intent to discover what sustains our passion for teaching in hard times. Three P-12 educators, Ms. Fuerte, Ms. Seine, and Ms. Rheine, participated in my dissertation research. These three participants were perceived as passionate teachers, taught among different schools and grade levels, and were in the process of completing their doctoral studies in a transformational Curriculum Studies program.

Eight findings emerged from my dissertation research. Teachers become vulnerable when they open their hearts to their students and encourage them to share their personal stories of struggles at home and in school. Teachers are resilient when they teach with passion and confront challenges and obstacles with creative strategies. Teachers build partnerships with students and other teachers by listening to their stories and supporting them through troubling times. Teachers create an environment for students’ imagination (Greene, 1996) to flourish in order to develop their understanding towards other cultures and other people of differences. Listening to students (Schultz, 2011) and paying attention with empathetic understanding help students heal from tragic loss and all forms of oppression they experience at home, in the community, and in school. Teachers need to take care of themselves and continuously cultivate heart, mind, body, and spirit in order to teach with passion to heal others. Critically examining who they were and how they become who they are as teachers and valuing what they know and what they do help teachers to invigorate their passion for teaching. Engaging in the indigenous thought and Storywork (Archibald, 2008) enables me and my participants to dive into the spiritual (spirit), emotional (heart), intellectual (mind), and physical (body) aspects of teaching to sustain our passion for teaching and faith in humanity (Dewey, 1934; He, 2016; Schubert, 2009) in hard times, which invents equal opportunities for all to reach their highest potential (Siddle-Walker, 1996).

INDEX WORDS: Indigenous Thought, Oppression, Passion, Storywork, Teaching

Research Data and Supplementary Material