Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Sherryl A. Houdek


The purpose of this qualitative study was twofold: (a) to gain an understanding of how students perceive their own academic successes, learning experiences, and factors that contribute to their success; and (b) to document oral stories students shared about their experiences through transcribed interviews. The information gathered was intended to support educators in understanding factors contributing to school success for Native American students. Students interviewed were eight female, Native American students in Grades 8 through 10, living in poverty, and scoring at proficient or advanced levels on their 2009-2010 state assessment in both reading and math.

Students attended various schools in the public school district involved in this study during 2011-2012. Data was collected through personal interviews. The following categories emerged from the data analysis: Family, School, and Students.

Every student attributed part of her success to relationships with others. Whether the relationship was with family, friends, or school personnel, relationships made a significant difference. The relationships that existed were the very reason some of the students met success. No matter how much disorder a family was affected by, the family still played an important role in the students' development. School provided an avenue for some students to break away from the harmful, destructive patterns and emotional impact occurring in the home setting. The importance of nurturing resilience in Native American females was also evident.

(Keywords: Native American, poverty, resiliency, relationships)