Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Jeannine Dingus-Eason

Second Supervisor

Chris Henry Hinesley


The United States is becoming more racially diverse. In spite of this increasing diversity, many American schools still remain segregated. Far too many young people are receiving an education without learning the critical skills needed to live, work, and lead in a complex, diverse, and stratified society. Graduating students who know how to positively interact with people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds are essential to American democracy. This qualitative phenomenological study investigated how independent school alumni (ISA) described the schooling experiences that facilitated their understanding of race and ethnicity. Intergroup dialogue provided a theoretical lens through which to examine ISA schooling experiences that led to racial and ethnic understanding. This study employed four data gathering techniques: (a) demographic profile sheets, (b) semi-structured interviews, (c) field notes, and, (d) document collection. Data were analyzed using multiple rounds of coding to identify emerging themes. The findings reveal that school social environments facilitate racial and ethnic understanding; racial awareness occurs both inside and outside the classroom through formal instruction and extracurricular activities and programs; racialized activities and spaces lead to the development of personal connections with people from different backgrounds; privilege and power highlight a social divide that intersects race and socioeconomic class; and different levels of readiness to interact with diverse people is indicated in post-secondary settings. Implications for school teachers and leaders as well as for future research are addressed.

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