Maria Tucker

Defense Date


Graduation Date



Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

David Lovett

Committee Member

Kurt Kraus

Committee Member

Joseph Padasak


heuristic inquiry, black women, rural schools, teachers, immersion, incubation


A Story Only We Can Tell: The Lived Experience of Black Women Teachers in White Rural Schools captures the stories of five women including the researcher, who teach in rural White school districts. The researcher employed a rigorous, consistent heuristic method for gathering the data. The process began with the researchers' initial engagement with the research topic. The initial engagement was documented through autobiographical writing and self-dialogue. From the self-dialogue emerged the individual depiction of the researchers' story.

The four women (co-researchers) revealed their stories through autobiographies and participating in interviews with the researcher. Once all of the stories were collected, the researcher entered into an intense process of immersion and incubation with the stories. This process involves many cycles of listening to the interviews and rereading transcriptions to gain illumination of the individual and collective experiences of the women. The stories are presented through individual depictions of each woman told in her own words.

A composite depiction describes the experience of the women as a whole and embraces the common themes of the stories. Using a poetic medium, the creative synthesis communicates in an inspired and meaningful way the voice of the experience. The major themes included 1) Maintaining Strong Family Ties and Influences, 2) Accepting Responsibility as a Role Model, 3) Experiencing and Witnessing Prejudice, and 34) Being Proud, Strong, and Respectful Black Women. The themes emerged from the autobiographies and interviews with the co-researchers.

The stories of these women are told in their own words and the themes are presented through their voices using their words. The literature review outlines three primary experiences of Black women working in White institutions namely, racism, sexism, and biculturalism. The summary outlines the findings of this study as they relate to the literature review. Implications for informed practice in White rural school districts is also discussed. The study focuses primarily on the recruitment and retention of Black women in White rural schools. Recommendations for future research are also listed.