Cultivating Leadership for School and Community Change: A Case Study of Theory, Research, and Practice
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Researchers have noted that effective school leadership is essential to ensuring positive student and school outcomes. To achieve these outcomes, university preparation programs must adequately train and develop aspiring school leaders with the knowledge, skills, and capacity needed to be effective leaders. This qualitative case study examines a nuanced space of school leadership by examining the transformative formal educational experiences of teachers that participated in an emerging leaders pilot program. The emerging leaders pilot program was imagined and implemented after a sustained conversation and mutual partnership between the university and the local school district in order to cultivate future district leadership. This study highlights the various components that have informed and impacted the development and practice of its participants. Two educators that participated in the emerging leaders cohort and three university and school district leaders comprise the units of analysis. Additional observables in the form of audio recordings, course syllabi, and student writings are integrated to provide a more comprehensive description of the program and its overall impact. The observables were analyzed using a hybrid ecological framework that integrated the concepts of self, organization, and community with the three learning domains of the emerging leaders program: instructional leadership; culturally relevant teaching and leading; and community engagement. The findings of the study highlight the importance cultivating institutional investment, harnessing the power of relationships, implementing dynamic curricula and pedagogy, and constructing a dynamic process for selection of program candidates.