Portrait of a principal: Case study of the institutionalization of a vision by an African -American school principal

Philip Robert Fusco, Fordham University


This study examined how a female African-American principal of an urban inner-city school made the connection between her vision and the reality of the affect, drama, and feeling of teachers and students that existed in that school community. The research design for this study was a qualitative case study. The data included an examination of documents, observations, and interviews.^ The findings of the study related to the manner in which the principal institutionalized a vision for her school. These findings were represented by the elements of Starratt's leadership theory.^ The principal has institutionalized her vision through collaboration with teachers, parents, and the community at large. The establishment of a teacher support group has set a tone for collaboration at Schuyler Heights School that the majority of the staff has come to expect as part of their work culture.^ The institutionalization of the principal's vision for the school is reflected in the many programs initiated at Schuyler Heights School that connect it to the wider community. Schuyler Heights School is viewed as a community center that meets the educational and social needs of the community. The primary mechanism used to institutionalize the principal's vision is the curriculum. The emphasis of the school is to develop a curriculum that meets the developmental needs of the students while reinforcing their cultural values.^ There is evidence from this study that a lack of cultural synchronization exists between the student population and some members of the faculty and the school district. This lack of cultural synchronization has had a major negative effect on student achievement. The principal has instilled a "can-do" attitude among the staff at Schuyler Heights, which has transformed the thinking of the majority of the faculty into expecting the highest standards of achievement from the students.^ At this point in time it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of the programs at Schuyler Heights School that were intended to bring about change. The process of institutionalizing change is an ongoing one. The children and families are experiencing change now and are reacting positively to it. The school district has, with a change of superintendent, begun not only to give verbal support to the community school thrust, but has begun actively to assist Schuyler Heights School to move in this direction. ^

Subject Area

Black studies|Womens studies|Educational administration|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Fusco, Philip Robert, "Portrait of a principal: Case study of the institutionalization of a vision by an African -American school principal" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9631034.