Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Talisa Sullivan

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Emilie Reagan

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Frances Gipson

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Darneika Watson

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2024 Camani Smith


Black Students, Culturally Relevant, Culturally Responsive, Culturally Sustaining, School to prison pipeline, Successful educators of successful black students

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Education | Race and Ethnicity


Given that Black students have historically topped the charts for school suspensions and incarceration rates, unpacking how the classroom structure plays a part in this epidemic can help improve the school system as well as societal outcomes for other historically marginalized students. This study sought to identify what teachers believe (through their conceptions and philosophies) and what teachers enact in the classroom (through their visible teaching practices) that foster a successful learning environment for all students, and Black students in particular. Framed by Hammond’s (2015) Ready for Rigor framework, in this qualitative study, I interviewed and observed 15 high school teachers—those who self-identified with being committed to the success of Black students—about their conceptions about teaching, their teaching practices, and their disciplinary practices. After analyzing data from initial interviews, two observations, and a final interview with every participant, six themes emerged: (a) Serving a Bigger Calling, (b) Personal Professionals in the Village, (c) Race Ready, (d) Student Voice or Identity, (e) Second Home or Home Is Where the Heart Is, and (f) Flipping the Script. Together, these six themes captured teachers’ philosophies, conceptions, and teaching practices consistent with culturally sustaining practices. This study offers implications for policy, practice, and research as educators aim to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in every classroom.