Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Health Services Research & Administration

First Committee Member

Jungyoon Kim

Second Committee Member

Liam Heerten-Rodriguez

Third Committee Member

Debora Wisneski


Early childhood education (ECE) programs have been recognized by the Institute of Medicine and the Administration for Children and Families as excellent interventions to alleviate the long-term negative effects of poverty in the United States, but the quality of intervention provided and outcomes for the target population are adversely hindered by high occupational stress burdens for ECE teachers. According to Sheridan, Edwards, Marvin, and Knoche, the models used to address this concern are not empirically supported for specific applicability to ECE nonprofit settings. There is a need for deeper understanding of the lived experiences of ECE teachers, including the psychological aspect of their experience of occupational stress. This study aims to use the phenomenological methods described by Moustakas (1994) via Creswell (2013) to provide a description of the lived experiences of psychological-occupational stress for ECE teachers serving low-income families in a non-profit, quality-focused organizational setting. Semi-structured verbal interviews and written responses were collected from ECE professionals for a parent study on leadership and professional development in ECE. Data from participants in classroom teacher roles (n=4) were analyzed through steps of researcher bracketing, horizontalization of participant statements, and the development of clusters of meaning, and theme identification to provide an essential description of these ECE teachers’ experience of the phenomenon of psychological-occupational stress.