Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2016

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no embargo, no restriction)

Work Type

Masters Capstone Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Christopher B. Knaus

Second Advisor

Jeff Cohen

Third Advisor

Mary Schoenfeldt

Abstract

Situated in the Pacific Northwest, this qualitative study explored coping, change, and systemic support experienced by thirteen K-12 educators following a school-based trauma. It is based on a theoretical framework of posttraumatic growth, the systematic study of how individuals are changed by traumatic encounters in positive ways. Study participants witnessed school shootings, physical assaults, or accidents resulting in injury or death and were responsible to care for the life and death needs of others.

Research questions guiding this study: (1) How do educators cope following school-based trauma? (2) How do educators change following school-based trauma? (3) What systemic supports are available following a trauma? (4) What advice do study participants have for others who may experience school-based trauma?

Study findings include: (a) experiencing school-based trauma is as horrific and challenging for K-12 educators as it is for students; (b) the needs of K-12 educators who have experienced trauma, regardless of their courage or resilience, are marginalized; (c) K-12 educators need ready-access to coping supports in schools following trauma; (d) educators, in particular school leaders, lack capacity to fully understand the impact of trauma on school systems and strategies to integrate trauma-informed practices into workplace interactions; (e) traumatic experiences cause anguish but can also lead to positive growth in the presence of authentic, compassionate systemic supports; and (f) recovery from trauma is a long term process requiring active and collective involvement of trauma survivors, schools and communities.