Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Sandra Mahoney

First Committee Member

Justin Low

Second Committee Member

Amy Scott Brown

Third Committee Member

Heidi J. Stevenson


The professional careers of teachers with a chronic illness can sometimes be devastating. This study addresses the insufficient understanding of the identity crisis a teacher goes through when one is suddenly diagnosed with a chronic illness. While researching different types of theories, identity theory best fit this topic and my interest. Within identity theory, there are four perspectives to view identity. The four perspectives are Nature, Institution, Discourse, and Affinity identities. In order to understand identity, one must understand how identity is formed. Chronic illness identity is a change from all other identities that have been constructed. This study uses a qualitative analysis method to explore chronic illness and its effect on identity and disclosure in the teaching profession. Autoethnography was used as a research tool to explore personal experiences. Studying a disability can change society’s perspective on how invisible disabilities are viewed. The following study is the chronicled written account of a teacher with multiple chronic illnesses. Trauma impacts the way one perceives themselves. Chronic illnesses are just the type of trauma that can be a dream assassin or a dream deliver. Writing uncovered a multidimensional intersecting identity. It was not just about the lost identity, it is about changing my fixed mindset and revealing the identity that was thought to be lost. Hopefully someone will find solace in finding their passage to reconstructing their identity.





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