This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

How a Black Female School Leader Navigates Structural Constraints to Foster Black Female Students’ Agency in an Alabama Black Belt Public School




Tempero Culliver, Mashika

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Using Kimberlé Crenshaw’s (1990) intersectionality theory as the theoretical framework, this intersectional narrative study focused on how a Black, female school leader in an Alabama Black Belt public school navigated structural constraints to foster Black female student agency (Berry & Cook, 2018; Crenshaw, 1990; Esposito & Evans-Winters, 2022; Vaughn, 2021). This study aimed to understand the strategies used by these leaders to empower their Black female students amidst navigating systemic challenges, such as limited resources, gender inequalities, poverty, unequal educational opportunities, and implicit biases. Relying on various rounds of interviews, observations and open reflective surveys, the participant’s story was co-constructed by the researcher and the participant via use of Nasheeda et al.’s (2019) restorying framework. The participant’s story revealed how she relied on her own “colorful” personal experiences as a Black girl and woman to inform how she navigates structural constraints to foster Black, female student agency and revealed her impact on people beyond exclusivity to her Black, female students. Some noted practices in her story included the following: culturally responsive social emotional learning, emancipatory pedagogical principles, grant writing and being “the Mama”- a term she used to describe her advocacy role when it comes to her interaction with her students and her colleagues. Keywords: Intersectionality theory, Black, female school leader, historically marginalized student agency, Alabama Black Belt region, emancipatory pedagogy, systemic oppression