A study of the process of importing a culture of success: the initiation stage of change
Leifeste, Kurtis Fritz
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School Culture is an important factor in the improvement of student achievement. However, the literature on the improvement of school culture reports that the concept of culture is vague and where improvement is attempted, it may take from three to five years. The purpose of this study was to describe the process of importing a culture of success to a school in a short period of fime using the Four Cornerstones . The study was divided into two phases. Phase I described changes in perspectives and understandings of the Four Cornerstones and importing a culture as a result of a weeklong workshop. Phase II described how the principal of one school used the Four Cornerstones to import a culture of success during the Inifiafion stage of change. Eleven principals from three rural West Texas school districts participated in phase one. In phase two, one elementary principal from the workshop volunteered to participate. Data were collected using questionnaires, interviews, observation, documents, and focus groups. Analysis was performed using the constant comparafive method. This is a research design for mulfidata sources, where the analysis begins early in the study and is almost completed by the end of the data collection. The data from all sources were reviewed through line-by-line inspecfion. Specific quotes were taken from the data and recorded under emergent categories in each phase. In phase one, three categories emerged: (1) the principals' movement from descriptive to proactive; (2) principals motivating teachers to become promoters of student success; and (3) principals motivafing students to a belief in success. In phase two, two categories emerged: (1) changing the guard (new principal) and (2) emphasis on success. Findings were interpreted using the theory of symbolic interacfionism as a lens to gain insight to the reciprocal influence of the principal, staff, students, and community in inifiating change using the Four Cornerstones to import a culture of success. Interaction occurred that helped the all the above to view themselves differently and allow them to believe success would happen. The initiation stage of change was accomplished in a period of two and one half months.