Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Thomasina Hassler, PhD


Thomasina Hassler, PhD

JaNae' Alfred, PhD

Robert Good, PhD



Using critical race theory and Gloria Ladson-Billings' culturally relevant pedagogy as theoretical frameworks, this thematic narrative analysis study explored the epistemology and ontology of culturally relevant pedagogy by investigating the research question: How do Black novice teachers (years 1-5) become culturally relevant practitioners? The researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with Black K-12 public school teachers in which the participants reflected on how their upbringing, cultural identities, K-12 experiences, and teacher preparation program/process impacts their readiness to practice culturally relevant pedagogy. Five themes emerged from the narrative analysis: 1) K-12 racialized trauma; 2) racialized awakening and awareness; 3) the sanctuary of educational and familial spaces; 4) the impact of professional development; and 5) seeking the dream: the quest toward embracing the epistemological and ontological paradigms of a culturally relevant pedagogy. This dissertation covers the findings related to these themes, as well as possible implications and recommendations from the study including: surfacing the impact of K-12 trauma on teacher ways of being; the importance of reflecting on pre-service and in-service lived experience to develop a culturally relevant pedagogy; and the need for clearer guidance from educational policymakers, educator preparation programs, professional development providers, and district/school leaders regarding the development of culturally relevant practices. As a homage to Ladson Billings’ (2009) The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, Dreamseekers explores the path taken to becoming culturally relevant practitioners.