Date of Award

Fall 10-30-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Julia Kirk

Second Advisor

John McCook

Third Advisor

Adam NeSmith


Educators have been leaving the field of education at a high rate each year with no signs of slowing down. Tennessee, as well as many other states across the country, have started the school year with unfilled positions due to so many vacancies. Previous researchers found educators left due to an overwhelming workload paired with an escalation in student behaviors, a lack of administrative support, and increased stress dealing with secondary trauma and compassion fatigue. Educators shared they felt isolated as they have neglected their own mental and physical health. The purpose of this basic, interpretive qualitative study was to examine the roles and responsibilities of middle school educators, what their experiences have been with secondary trauma and compassion fatigue, as well as what educators understood secondary trauma and compassion fatigue to be, and what they may be doing about combating compassion fatigue in a school district in Tennessee, Oak Grove School District. I utilized the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) survey to obtain participants who scored a 23 or higher for compassion fatigue. I interviewed 17 full-time educators from 11 middle schools within Oak Grove School District to understand their views concerning secondary trauma and compassion fatigue. The educators shared they had ever-changing roles and responsibilities taking an emotional toll on them. Educators also felt they were underprepared to address the many needs their students brought with them daily into the school building while also sacrificing a healthy work-life balance. Educators also shared, OGSD did not have clear expectations with all educators within their district which led to a hierarchical disconnect from administration and district-level leaders.


Secondary Trauma, Compassion Fatigue, Middle School Educators