Date of Submission

Fall 2023

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Sarah Dunphy Leii

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This is a qualitative study which investigates the multifaceted roles of special educators.The United States is currently facing a crisis in teacher attrition. Attrition destabilizes schools, and negatively impacts student outcomes. Special education teachers are the teachers most likely to leave their field. In hopes of reducing attrition, this study seeks out the unique perspectives of special educators. Six special educators from a small school in the Hudson Valley completed 15-45 minute semi structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed and coded in a software MAXQDA. 3 themes were generated. These themes are: continuous learning, expending emotional labor, and balancing care with education. Based on my results, I included recommendations.Recommendations for reducing attrition were, increase in fieldwork for students studying to be educators, healthy workplaces environments which encourage collaboration, and routine self care practices. In addition to qualitative research, this study includes a comprehensive overview of the history of autism, special education, and contemporary challenges present in both. I contextualized the special educators’ experiences in Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems theory.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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