Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Kyle D Cook

Second Advisor

Olivia G Stewart


Teacher expertise can have a large influence on student experiences and achievement. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences, practices, and beliefs of early elementary classroom teachers who have supplementary literacy certification. Although characteristics of effective literacy teachers have been identified in previous research, a literature review indicated the current literature is lacking information regarding teachers with this additional literacy certification. In this phenomenological study, data was collected through semi-structured one-on-one interviews and analyzed using the interpretative phenomenological analysis procedure. The sixteen participants taught kindergarten, first, or second grade in Wisconsin (WI) and held a WI Reading Teacher license and/or WI Reading Specialist license. The theoretical frameworks guiding this study included interpretative phenomenology and social cognitive theory. Patterns in the lived experiences of the participants included: taking multiple paths to expertise, the use of knowledge to help others, valuing the individual, and going beyond the curriculum. At the core of this phenomenon is a combination of factors that allow these teachers to meet individual student needs. The findings of this study have potential to affect district hiring and professional development policies as well as individual teacher decision-making around the procurement and use of literacy expertise. The resulting actions of teachers and school districts may benefit student achievement in literacy.