Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Counselor Education

Date of Defense

9-29-2009

Graduate Advisor

Matthew Lemberger, Ph.D.

Committee

Hsueh, Kuei-Hsiang

Susan Kashubeck-West, Ph.D

Donghyuck Lee, Ph.D.

Abstract

Previous literature states that Black females experience cultural discontinuity, academic and social stressors, and inequities that are associated with psychological distress and risky behaviors as a result of not fitting into the school environment. These patterns have been found to exist in low-income, underachieving, urban schools, but middle class, high-achieving, suburban, and predominantly White schools have not been examined. Primarily through semi-structured interviews, this qualitative study investigated the experiences of 12 Black females who attend a predominantly White, high achieving suburban school in a Midwestern state. Utilizing a grounded theory approach, the data collected suggests that there are two groups of Black girls in this school. In most cases, girls with higher GPA and more years within the district, versus girls with fewer years and lower GPAs, had different perspectives on their school and self expectations, in how they compared their school to other schools, the challenges they faced, and the supports needed to feel successful while attending a predominantly White school. Across the girls, attending a predominantly White school resulted in the need to meet the “norm” standards of the majority, rather than be what or how they aspired to be. These findings have implications for school counselors, who may need increased training and practice to fully understand Black girls and their experiences, especially when they experience cultural discontinuity in a predominantly White school. The proposed Flower model, in conjuction with national standards for counselors, would help school counselors to meet the future needs of Black girls, especially when they are in the minority in their schools.

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