The successful urban elementary principal: building and sustaining school improvement




Salinas, Albert

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The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate and examine the school leadership of an urban successful principal who builds and sustains a high level of student achievement in an inner-city elementary setting while serving children in a high poverty, predominantly Latino/a district in south central Texas.

Through purposive sampling, the researcher interviewed: (1) principal, (1) academic coordinator, (6) teachers in a focus group, and a parent-student focus group of (4) parents and (4) students. The research protocols were adapted from The International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP) founded by Dr. Christopher Day in 2001 (UK). The researcher’s conceptual framework was based on earlier ISSPP findings, but added Theoharis’ (2009) tenets on social justice leadership. The primary data-collection method was in-depth interviews. Supportive methods during data collection included memos, field notes and campus reports. By coding the data, analysis, and triangulation, six themes emerged: (1) high expectations, (2) building trust, (3) distributed leadership, (4) a shared vision, (5) building relationships, and (6) social justice leadership. The campus leadership and teachers at the elementary school studied demonstrated evidence of believing all students could be successful while working diligently in building and sustaining school improvement.


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Elementary Principal, ISSPP, Latino Student Success, Urban Principal, Urban Schools



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies