Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Dr. Marie Cianca

Second Supervisor

Dr. Jason Berman and Dr. Cheryl Holloway


This dissertation research study examined teacher and administrator perspectives on conceptual and logistical issues and supports in implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in rural schools. More research is needed regarding rural schools due to a lack of understanding of the nature and value of place in rural learning environments. This phenomenological study utilized semi-structured interviews to examine DEI initiatives through the lens of the adult learning theory of Knowles et al. (2015). Three key findings emerged from the research. First, rural schools lack the funding, human resources, and systems to implement DEI initiatives. Second, the implementation of DEI is being impacted by a narrow understanding of its meaning. Finally, teachers and administrators need support through professional learning to implement DEI in rural schools. These supports are essential in fostering an educational community that is cultivated, developed, and empowered. Future training for teachers and administrators should include the assumptions of Knowles et al. (2015) regarding adult learning. Teachers and administrators in rural districts should create equity advancement opportunities and inclusive spaces to foster successful and supportive learning environments.

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