Marilyn Shea, Ph.D. is a 2010 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Philomena Essed, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Alan E. Guskin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Colleen A. Thoma, Ph.D., External Reader


special education teachers, retention, job satisfaction, commitment, motivation, qualitative inquiry, leadership

Document Type


Publication Date



Those who choose to teach special education have accepted some of the most challenging jobs teaching has to offer. Unfortunately for their students, almost half of special education teachers leave the profession within their first five years (Singer, 1992). Finding and keeping qualified special education teachers in positions working with more challenging students has become a national problem. Through qualitative interviews, this study examines the stories of 14 Colorado special educators. These teachers have demonstrated their commitment to the field by teaching for four or more years. Their stories give valuable insight into the issue of teacher commitment in difficult conditions. The results are presented as a series of thematic reflections, both by the participants and by the author. The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible at the OhioLINK ETD Center,