I would like to thank my dissertation chair and mentor, Four Arrows, for his never-ending help and support in completing this journey. Four Arrows went above and beyond what I would expect, with endless editing and quick turn-around after reading and commenting. I would not have been able to complete this without his help. I would also like to thank the rest of my dissertation committee: Sue Gordon, Kathy Tiner, Shella Zelenz, and Joseph McNabb for their hard work and support. I would especially like to thank Sue Gordon for her support as a second mentor and cluster leader for the New England cluster. In a distributed program, such as the one at Fielding Graduate University, having a local member of the faculty to lean on is important.

I would also like to thank Joseph McNabb at Northeastern University for his guidance and instruction, for making the field of education interesting to me, and for convincing me to continue with my doctorate. I would like to thank Jennifer Frank, a colleague at Fielding, for being there when I needed to talk. I would also like to thank the constant in my life, Jesse, for his understanding with my frustrations, deadlines, and inability to be involved in our lives for the last 4 years as I concentrated on my education. This has been a long journey, and without you, I could not have done it.

I would also like to acknowledge the help of Isaac Graves, the conference director and the main working force at the Alternative Education Resource Organization. Isaac invited me to the sixth annual AERO conference in 2009. From that conference this research was born. I would like to thank the alumni and the students of AERO for their thoughts, opinions, and guidance while working through alternative schools — your help was very important.

I also need to acknowledge all of my students who have either knowingly or unknowingly contributed to my progress. There are just too many of you to mention individually. Though I did not know it at the time, this dissertation began when I started teaching at Porter and Chester Institute. I wish to thank my instructional colleagues at Porter and Chester Institute: Your professionalism and conversations have helped me stay focused and complete this journey. I owe a special thank-you to Brian Malanson, a vice president of Porter and Chester Institute, for allowing me the time and resources to complete my research, as well as to attend numerous conferences over the last 3 years.

Thank you to everyone. I am truly grateful!