AN EXAMINATION OF LEADERSHIP, TRUST, COLLABORATION AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN NEWLY OPENED SCHOOLS
Sanzo, Sonya Jordan
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Student population in American public schools has dramatically increased over the last ten years with projections indicating a continuation of fast growth for many school districts over the next two decades (Hussar & Bailey, 2013). Many districts across the state of Texas have already begun experiencing the impact of record breaking student enrollment resulting in a need to address the issue of overcrowding in schools. With the opening of a new school, district leaders are challenged with establishing a culture that promotes the same high academic standards as existing schools. Principals leading newly built schools are given a unique opportunity as a catalyst for building a highly effective learning culture from the ground up. The purpose of this study was to examine leadership strategies for building trust, collaboration and professional development opportunities in newly opened schools. Specifically, the study described principals’ reported beliefs regarding strategies believed to help create a culture of trust, collaboration and effective professional development opportunities in newly built schools. This qualitative study utilized a purposeful sampling strategy in the selection of eight school principals who have experience as the leaders of newly opened schools within a single, fast growth suburban school district in Texas. A semi-structured interview within a focus group setting was used to collect data from the eight school principals. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. From the information, themes were developed and analyzed. The data from this study indicated an importance placed on leadership strategies that initiated activities that targeted collaboration and trust building efforts in the months prior to the opening of a school. Specific examples were given that were believed to enhance collaboration and trust among staff members of newly opened campuses.Twelve theme categories emerged from the responses given by the study participants. Further research will be necessary to analyze any correlation that may exist between specific leadership strategies and activities and the building of trust, collaboration and professional development in a newly opened campus.