Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Ceceilia Parnther

Second Advisor

Catherine DiMartino

Third Advisor

Stephen Kotok


Human beings are fundamentally and universally motivated by the need to belong and maintain strong interpersonal attachments with one another (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Male teachers of color are no different, yet they may not always feel that connection and belongingness in a profession that they are underrepresented. Unfortunately, the underrepresentation of male teachers of color happens in nearly every subject area throughout K-12 education (Vilson, 2015; Waite et al., 2018). The purpose of this qualitative case study is to explore the experiences of male teachers of color throughout underserved community schools in the United States, who are enrolled in a program to retain, support, and develop teachers of color, during their early years as educators serving students of color in underserved communities. Additionally, this study examines whether or not their experiences in the program had an impact on if they decided to stay in the education profession. Participants of this study consist of early-career K-12 male teachers of color with less than five years of teaching experience, program mentors, and program directors who are associated with a program to retain, support, and develop teachers serving students of color. Through the use of Critical Race Theory in Education (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Kohli & Solórzano, 2012), Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1954), and the Need to Belong Theory (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), the study was conducted by recruiting members from six different national teachers of color programs. The study utilized semi-structured interviews, and a content analysis of the programs’ websites, social media accounts, and news media articles. Analysis of the data collected revealed programs for teachers of color retain male teachers of color in their profession. The programs can support teachers through mentoring, networking opportunities, leadership support, and building community. In addition, four components were necessary for early-career teachers to stay in the teaching profession through fostering a sense of belonging. These four components are establishing safe spaces, positive relationships, nurturing support, and identity acceptance. The implications of these findings for school leaders, hiring managers, and policymakers will be discussed.