Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Thomas Luschei

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Margaret Grogan

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Carl Cohn

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Leslie Ann Young


elementary education, lives of teachers, teacher commitment, teacher education, veteran teachers

Subject Categories

Elementary Education and Teaching | Teacher Education and Professional Development


This phenomenological qualitative study involved 15 veteran K-6 public school teachers – each having taught a minimum of 24 years - from several districts in Southern California. It identified and examined what factors influenced the ongoing commitment and engagement of these teachers over the course of their careers. Factors mirrored the study’s theoretical framework and included: 1) the teacher’s challenges, 2) the teacher’s personal characteristics or attributes, and 3) the teacher’s professional life phases.

A majority of the teachers interviewed spoke to the escalation of the environmental challenges they confronted while on the job, such as, student behavior, administrative and parental support, educational reform, work load, and instructional time constraints as well as individual factors, such as, family issues and personality. In particular, the increased aggressive misbehavior of some students along with an all-too-common lack of support from both parents and administrators left these teachers feeling disrespected, isolated, and even burnt-out at times. However, the study’s findings pointed to the affirmative power of the teachers’ personal characteristics – specifically, their passion for teaching and their students along with the teachers’ resilience – in helping them to combat the trying environmental and individual challenges they faced during the various professional life phases of their careers, and remain committed and engaged.

Moreover, the study’s findings suggest that veteran teachers could benefit from recognition, growth, variety and interaction with colleagues in order to have a meaningful longevity in their careers as well as more robust support from both site and district administrators. The findings also recommend that teacher educators introduce their pre-service and beginning teachers to what it takes emotionally to stay committed and engaged in the profession in meaningful ways, thereby, giving these new teachers a deeper foundation of what being an effective and fulfilled teacher really entails.