Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award


Degree Type



Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Mary M. Chandler

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan L. Banke

Third Advisor

Dr. William W. Swan

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David W. Tilley


Independent schools across America have historically served affluent, White students. However, many independent schools now strive to attract more diverse student populations. One subgroup of many independent schools communities is Black students. Black students who enter a traditionally White independent school often find unexpected struggles while acclimating to the independent school environment (Ohikuare, 2013). This study examined the learning experiences that were in place within independent schools to support Black students and their parents. A qualitative investigation was utilized to collect data from 10 independent schools through interviews with eight Cultural Diversity Directors, one Head of School, and one principal to determine the learning experiences schools had in place to support Black students and their parents. The qualitative data were analyzed and sought to answer the following research question and supporting questions: What learning experiences are in place in independent schools in a large, southern metropolitan area to support Black students and their parents? (a) How aware are independent school leaders of specific needs of Black students and parents that may arise as a result of attending a predominately White school? (b) What learning experiences have independent schools put in place specifically to support the needs of Black students and their parents? (c) How do schools assess the learning experiences in place to support Black students and their parents? (d) Which learning experiences do school leaders find to be the most effective when supporting Black students and their parents? (e) How have school administrators facilitated a culture where Black students and parents feel welcomed and valued as part of the school community? The analysis of data revealed five common themes: academic structures, heightened awareness, community involvement, targeted support, and administrative structures. Specific suggestions for learning experiences were are also identified.