Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD; Mary Woods Scherr, PhD; Theresa M. Monroe, RSCJ, PhD; Paula A. Cordeiro, EdD


adolescents, ancient wisdom, contemporary education, Leadership studies, mindfulness, public high schools, quantitative, self-actualization, Washington


Scholars have long contended that the main purpose of education is to guide youth towards more authentic, fruitful ways of being in the world; this ancient wisdom continues to challenge educators to serve as effective role models (e.g., Aristotle, 1963; 1985; Maslow, 1993; Palmer, 1998). Yet, until now, teachers' levels of self-actualization have not been investigated with valid and reliable instruments. This quantitative study used two psychometrically sound, closed-ended surveys to investigate the extent to which teachers consider themselves self-actualized and mindful; it measured the direction and strength of the correlation between their self-actualization and mindfulness scores; and, investigated the degree to which SES, years teaching, educational level, gender, age, and marital status accounted for variance in their self-actualization scores. One hundred eighty-five teachers from a random selection of public high schools in a Washington state county volunteered to participate. Although there is a certain amount of bias inherent in self-report measures, the sample of teachers presented as more self-actualized and mindful than the general population. Theoretically, higher scores were expected since teachers tend to have their basic needs met and are trained to be reflective and fully present. Yet, the findings suggest that there is a need for policy intervention(s) that encourage self-actualization among teachers: While 29 percent of teachers had self-actualization scores considered high, most were average, 5 percent were low. The variance shared between the two measures was 17.5 percent. Stated differently, mindfulness accounted for 17.5 percent of the variance in self-actualization scores. Holding mindfulness scores constant, females tended to score 2.2 percent higher than males on self-actualization. Only mindfulness and gender were statistically significant predictors of self-actualization; the model had many high and low residuals indicating that important predictor(s) were omitted. This specification error might be corrected by including in the model a measure of spirituality defined as “love of inner work”. The results of this study should encourage policy recommendations to support self-actualizing cultures in educational institutions. Towards that end, this dissertation clarified the definition of important terms: self-actualization, eudaimonia, spirituality, and a new term, ovuscular, referring to the ideal process of self-actualization.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access