Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Magaly Lavadenz

Second Advisor

Ernesto Colín

Third Advisor

Rebecca Stephenson


As the student population in U.S. public schools becomes more diverse, with an increase of students of color and from low socioeconomic backgrounds, it is critical that the opportunity gaps in our education system are addressed to provide an equitable education for urban youth. To mitigate these gaps, there is a need for an experienced urban teacher workforce, but urban schools face staffing challenges that make this difficult. There is an exceptional need for Latina/o teachers, who demonstrate positive impacts on Latina/o students, the largest minority population nationwide, however, the retention rate amongst Latina/o teachers is lower than that of other demographics. This phenomenological qualitative research study explored the personal and professional factors that sustain Latina veteran urban teachers in a predominantly Latina/o school district through the development of testimonios. Data was collected through a survey, instructional documents, and interviews to produce the individual testimonios of each participant’s history as a Latina veteran urban teacher and a cross-case analysis of the participants’ shared experiences.

The findings demonstrated that Latina veteran urban teachers possessed la chispa, the spark, for serving students who share their cultural and linguistic identity. These teachers ignited, fueled, and preserved their chispa through various personal and professional factors, including a commitment to serving urban students, a dedication to continuous professional growth, and the support from personal and professional networks. These findings can inform teacher preparation programs and school systems on how to prepare and sustain Latina teachers for long-term careers in urban education.