Date of Award



© 2021 Jessica Berry

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Andrea Disque

Second Advisor

Jennifer L. Crawford

Third Advisor

Christina Wotton


This qualitative narrative inquiry was used to explore public primary school (K–8) educators’ perceptions of ACEs and how their understanding of ACEs might contribute to creating a trauma-sensitive school climate. The conceptual framework of the study was centered on Mezirow’s Transformational Learning Theory, with the premise that learning and change require: (a) a recognition of one’s own biases, norms, and constructs, which would be followed by (b) reflection, (c) the realization that change is needed, and (d) a willingness to learn (Mezirow, 1991).

Ten public school K–8 educators from the state of Maine participated in semistructured interviews that were transcribed and developed into narratives. The analysis yielded five themes from the participants’ restoried narratives. These themes included (a) the importance of relationships with students, (b) inconsistent professional development opportunities for knowledge of ACEs and trauma-informed care (TIC), (c) a lack of preparation through college coursework, (d) meeting students’ basic needs, and (e) teachers’ lack of understanding regarding how to implement TIC. The major finding was the perceived importance of relationships as a mitigating factor on the effects of ACEs on students. The findings of this study could be useful to educators and administrators who are studying ACEs and TIC.


Ed.D. Dissertation