Impacting Texas public schools through a student servant-leader model: A case study
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Leadership is a widely discussed, yet seldom taught component in the public schools of Texas. Students are elected to leadership positions each year, yet little training accompanies the election process. Specifically, there is extremely limited information in the area of servant-leadership as it pertains to high school age students. This dissertation provides the first in-depth analysis of the impact a servant-leader model can have on high school students. The servant-leader model is consistent with the symbolic frame of cognition as described by Bolman and Deal (1993) as well as the symbolic force of Sergiovanni (1984). The servant leader model is consistent with five characteristics outlined as integrity/trust, love/respect, service, listening, and the higher calling/values. The review of the literature focuses on the servant-leader model from the areas of business, educational leadership, and finally from a student servant-leadership perspective. A pragmatic approach to the literature is also included due to the limited research literature available on the servant-leader model. The data was collected and analyzed from a case study approach. The data was collected from two separate case study locations at different geographic locations within the state of Texas. Students attended a three-hour workshop on the servant leader model and the study focused to see whether short-term leadership perceptions held by students could be altered after exposure to the servant-leader model. Triangulation was achieved through a mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis. A survey instrument was utilized to measure perceptional changes from a quantitative approach. The qualitative tools of interviews and participant observations were used to discover the meaning behind the survey results. This study provided evidence that students' short-term perceptions about leadership can be altered through a three-hour workshop on the servant leader model. Educational leaders should pursue opportunities to both expose and educate their students on the merits of the servant leader model so that public school systems and the stakeholders within can maximize their full potential. By doing this, public school educators have an opportunity to build school communities that are centered on the development of values and beliefs that take on sacred or cultural characteristics. Educational leaders should strive for excellent schools that are built on a foundation of values and beliefs rather than popularity and power. Educational leaders can impact the student leadership in schools across Texas by allowing these students an opportunity for exposure to the servant-leader model.