School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


David Vacchi


cultural responsiveness, practices, development, proficiency, elementary school


Educational Leadership | Elementary Education


In education, a lack of culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP) may mute the success of students of color. A lack of culturally responsive pedagogy practices can drastically alter students’ educational outcomes and their outlook on the value of education. This hermeneutic phenomenology explored the experiences of elementary school leaders on their mission to implement culturally responsive practices through teacher professional development. The theory guiding this study is Khalifa’s theory on Culturally Responsive School Leadership which was developed to make teaching and the entire school environment responsive to the schooling needs of all demographics of children. This phenomenological study focused on teachers’ and leaders' shared experiences implementing culturally responsive practices in our nation’s most marginalized communities in an Eastern City. Through a hermeneutic framework, participants engaged in two forms of data collection: individual interviews and focus groups. The findings of this study highlighted a gap in both leaders' and teachers’ understanding and development in CRP. As a result, self-development was the most common form of development used that varied in frequency and effectiveness. Recommendations for future studies should use quantitative data analysis to find the correlation between teachers' and leaders’ cultural proficiency and teacher development to determine the organization's best approach to strengthening culturally responsive school practices.