Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Kay A. Keiser


The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the different ways classroom teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, and administrators; experience, perceive, understand and conceptualize their specific role in moving toward trauma-sensitive practices in schools. Grounded in the social-ecological theory related to trauma, the study was conducted in a suburban school district in Omaha, Nebraska utilizing focus groups from four participating middle schools. Fifteen education professionals were asked questions regarding their perceptions of trauma and their role in creating and sustaining trauma-sensitive practices in each of their contexts. A researcher-created interview protocol was utilized to collect perceptual data throughout the focus group interviews. At the conclusion of the focus group interviews, four themes emerged related to awareness and knowledge of the prevalence of trauma, the impact of trauma on student outcomes, level of professional development on the topic of trauma and the role each professional play in creating and sustaining trauma-sensitive practices in their buildings. Findings from this study found that all of the 15 participants in this study have an awareness of their specific role in creating trauma-sensitive practices in their contexts. The level of awareness and understanding of trauma-sensitive practices varied depending on their role and amount of professional development each received throughout their careers in education. School counselors and psychologists had the deepest level of understanding regarding their role in creating and sustaining trauma-sensitive practices. Building administrators expressed their role in terms of systems level responsibilities such as providing staff with professional development and connecting with outside resources that would equip school staff with additional tools to use when addressing trauma in their classrooms. Teachers expressed their role as being on the front lines so to speak. They are typically the first professionals to identify children who may be struggling in the classroom due to circumstances such as trauma.


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education. Copyright 2020 Lisa M. Epp.

Included in

Education Commons