Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Ardeth Deay.


This study examines teachers' conceptions of success through interviews of fourteen educators from a rural county in a Mid-Atlantic state. The results find that the critical elements of success are student-oriented, practice-oriented, and policy-oriented; the consensus definition of success is caring for individual students; and the beliefs and values of educators are in making a difference for every student. Relationships, joy in learning, and fair testing are enabling of success within the community and culture studied. In terms of challenges and needs---parents are often named as the biggest barrier to success; secondly, having time to teach as well as possible; and, lastly, being able to teach well given the vast number of content standards the teachers are expected to cover. In all interviews, hope about education outweighs frustrations in the voices of successful educators.;The study includes triangulation through multiple participants, multiple data sources (interviews and documents), multiple perspectives (teachers and administrators), and member checking. From the pooled participants' definition of success to the emergent themes of each type of perspective, patterns emerge to address the research questions and the literature review. The most central conceptualization of success is individual student learning through the engaging moment, the steady relationships, and the supportive community that occur in successful schools.