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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

Delores McNair

First Committee Member

Dimpal Jain

Second Committee Member

Joanna Royce-Davis

Third Committee Member

Casey Goodall


Though America's public schools have become increasingly diverse, the teaching staff remains relatively homogeneous. This gap is more apparent in California schools that serve large numbers of students of color, being taught by teachers who are predominately White and female. Because the population of kindergarten-through-12th grade teachers is predominately white and middle class, theorists recommend the self-discovery process of striving for cultural proficiency as a solution. Teacher cultural proficiency is a series of characteristics that are learned, honed, and constantly evolving to create a classroom that is culturally aware and culturally sensitive for all students. Although there is ample literature regarding multicultural education, there is limited research discussing teachers' perceptions and experiences with cultural proficiency, especially white women, who represent the largest population of teachers in California. The purpose of this study was to further investigate teacher stories along their journey on the cultural proficiency continuum.

This study includes interviews with three teachers who have reputations for being culturally proficient and who work in elementary schools in a California Central Valley district serving large populations of students of color. The purpose of the interviews was to further explore the teachers' experiences striving for cultural proficiency and implementing culturally aware practices in their classrooms. The results of this study suggest that the continued journey to cultural proficiency mirrors cultural proficiency theory but lacks one key component: self-reflection in regard to whiteness. The interviewed teachers struggled with the theoretical foundations of critical whiteness theory and cultural proficiency, but they believed that the goal of cultural proficiency was one in which they would constantly be striving. The findings of this study address some of the culturally proficient themes of self-discovery, curiosity, experience, and travel that contribute to these teachers' culturally proficient reputations, and they add to scholarship by suggesting an additional tenet to cultural proficiency, that of being intimately aware of one's own whiteness and privilege.



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