Date of Award



© 2019 Valerie Gillespie

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Marylin Newell

Second Advisor

Gizelle Luevano

Third Advisor

Michelle Smith


This qualitative phenomenological study examined the perceptions of students of color about cultural competence in the independent school classroom. Current research defines the importance of cultural competence as a means to enhance engagement and feelings of acceptance. This study addressed research questions related to cultural competence in education which stemmed from perceptions of students of color that identified as Asian, Black, or Latino(a). The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine perceptions of students of color and gain a sense of their experiences in an independent school environment. Data was collected through a survey and interviews where personal stories were used to detect reoccurring themes. Identifying these perceptions was the key motivating factor in determining areas of strength and weakness in independent educational practice. In this study, four predetermined interconnecting themes of cultural competence were used as guides: 1) Awareness 2) Self-knowledge 3) Equity and Inclusion 4) Cultural Proficiency. These themes aided in understanding the outcomes of the qualitative inquiry from each interview. Findings from this research concluded the need for professional development in cultural competence endeavors within independent school environments. The goals of this research were to provide further information and investigation on cultural competence in independent school classrooms in efforts to continue the conversation on teaching and learning through best practices that benefit all students in the classroom.


Ed.D. Dissertation