Term of Award

Fall 2023

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

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 1

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 2

Ugena Whitlock

Committee Member 3

Amee Adkins

Committee Member 3 Email



This dissertation explores the personal impact of my lived experiences as a school counselor, the uncovering of my own unconscious racial bias, and how it impacted my professional assessment of student’s issues. Personal growth and study of racial trauma created a social as well as professional context for better understanding many of the problems I encountered while counseling elementary school students of color with numerous office discipline referrals, (ODR)s. I began to realize, with great personal stress, that these same frustrated students who consistently found themselves as early candidates for the school to prison pipeline, STPP (Metze, 2012; Bornstein, 2017) were often pushed into confrontational situations with school faculty and staff which often resulted in defensive or reactive “misbehavior” As a school counselor, I worked with these students to help them to find a way to “walk away” from conflict even when the person was being deeply insulting to them. Most confounding was that often the person was the students' classroom teacher or another adult whom they encountered daily. The refrain, “I hear you (your frustrations and complaints) ...but… it really doesn't matter what that person said to you, please walk away, because you will be the one that gets in trouble”, became an unhealthy mantra. Acknowledging how disempowering and psychologically questionable it was to advise a marginalized student experiencing racist treatment to “ignore it” became the nexus for understanding the problem differently. Reframing some student behavior as self-efficacy in emotionally invalidating circumstances became the foundation for this research.

Research Data and Supplementary Material