The use of oral history and narrative inquiry to investigate factors of resilience in the face of parental death is absent from the literature. Also, researchers have not linked factors that support resilience against trauma and that lead to positive change in residential treatment with the role of educators. In this study, my father-in-law, Norman, and I answered the research question: What factors in Norman’s adolescent life supported his resilience in the face of an early parental loss? I analyzed Norman’s oral history using narrative analysis methods. Findings include factors that led to Norman’s resilience including his connection to a robust community, his family’s sheltering him after his father’s death, involvement in extracurricular activities, and identification with successful role models. I discuss similar findings in the literature on resilience and my observations of a residential treatment setting. Implications for educators in residential treatment and general education settings include connecting trauma-affected students with positive school communities, creating easily accessible opportunities for quality extracurricular involvement, and helping students identify and analyze the trajectories of academic role models.


oral history, narrative inquiry, resilience, trauma, residential treatment, education, death

Author Bio(s)

Erin Silcox is a graduate student in the College of Education at the University of Wyoming studying Literacy Education. Her areas of research interests include trauma-informed literacy instruction and equity. She holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, a Literacy Endorsement, and a Principal Endorsement. She previously directed the school and taught Science at a wilderness therapy residential treatment center for nine years. She currently works as a graduate assistant researching the impact of online professional development on teacher learning. Please direct correspondence to erinesilcox@gmail.com.


I would like to thank my father-in-law Norman Silcox for sharing his story as well as Dr. Eric Teman for supporting my journey into narrative inquiry.

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