A Phenomenological Study: Experiences of Black Women Leading as Assistant Principals During the Racial Turmoil of 2020

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2024-05

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Abstract

During Spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic collided with the murder of George Floyd which created a racial divide throughout the United States. This point in time brought feelings of fear, frustration, and exhaustion throughout the country. Though the United States had experienced riots and protest in past decades, 2020 was different. Due to the emotional, physical, and psychological effects related to the pandemic as well as the continued murdering of Black and Brown people, school leaders were faced with an array of challenges that impacted the communities they served. The purpose of this dissertation was to understand the lived experiences of Black women who served as assistant principals during the racial turmoil of 2020.

A phenomenological method of research facilitated the collection of the lived experiences of five Black women serving as assistant principals in several school districts in Southeast Texas to describe the common meaning of their experiences following the racial turmoil of 2020. One-on-one interviews were used throughout the entire duration of the study to collect data from participants who had experienced the phenomenon and then a composite description of the experiences of the individuals was developed.

The results of this study of Black women leading schools during the racial turmoil of 2020 included an identification of five themes: “being on edge,” “there really wasn’t a plan,” “it was more about COVID,” “look, I’m just trying to make it through,” and “being the representation at the table.” Each theme was created using the participants words. The women who participated in this study vocalized their initial emotions surrounding the murder of George Floyd were that of sadness, shock, and confusion. The year 2020 brought a lot of challenges for the women in this study but they were able to use their resilience to move through this difficult time. This study revealed that Black women mostly struggled with the balancing of emotions, balancing of work and life, and supporting their staff. Furthermore, this study revealed recommendations that stakeholders should consider when supporting and retaining Black school leaders during crisis or turmoil such as addressing racial concerns, providing resources, and including Black leaders in decision making.

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Education, Administration

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