School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Lisa Hall Foster


Minority, Low-income, Rural, Schools, Veteran Teachers, Phenomenology


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the lived experiences of veteran teachers who teach in predominantly minority, low-income, rural schools across South Carolina. This study also emphasized the motivational factors that participants attribute to remaining in rural school districts for five or more years. Lastly, this study looked at how participants describe the attribution of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in their perseverance, and how participants perceive social injustice as having an impact on retaining teachers in rural regions. The conceptual framework that guided this study was Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory proposed by Abraham Maslow and the critical race theory of education developed by Derrick Bell. Ten K-12th grade public school teachers took part in this study using criterion sampling for qualitative study. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews, written letters, and a photo narrative. Data analysis of this transcendental phenomenological research included the following: epoche/bracketing, phenomenological reduction, imaginative variation, and textural and structural composite descriptions. The researcher also analyzed the data using open coding and visual representations including comparison tables. Emerging themes developed that showed why teachers persisted in rural locations for five or more years after data analysis. The themes were: (a) teaching is a calling, (b) everlasting relationships with students, (c) student growth and academic success, and (d) a sense of belonging and feelings of home. Recommendations for future research included replicating this study in an urban or suburban school district, research on principals’ perspective on teacher retention and recruitment, and a quantitative study on teacher retention and persistence.