Effective leadership in school-community partnerships
Keenan, Matthew James
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The broad approach of Multi-Tiered Support Systems (MTSS) is a well-established educational practice that has found acceptance on the national level, as it has been demonstrated to help students improve more effectively than the 'wait-to-fail' approaches of the past. There are many studies examining the implementation of MTSS systems and the factors associated with their successful integration into the school culture, including pre-service preparation, ongoing professional development, educational leadership, cultivating staff buy-in, the use of appropriate supports and interventions, etc. While traditional MTSS systems focus primarily on curriculum or student behavior there is also increasing recognition of the impact that a student's social and emotional growth has on their academic success, and schools are seeking more holistic ways to support struggling students with the cooperation of school staff, community organizations, and the families of students. The process of developing and implementing these new, collaborative MTSS programs that rely on partnerships between schools and community organizations have not been well documented, especially at the secondary level. This phenomenological case study examined the implementation of a new partnership between a large, public high school and a community organization designed to support these non-academic barriers to learning through the use of increasing interventions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and artifacts associated with the program were collected and analyzed to examine the role of school leaders in this process of building partnerships. These data led the conclusion that school leaders play critical roles in cultivating the conditions within the school to allow for and welcome innovative programs to meet student needs, and they also serve as the conduits between their schools and potential community partners to implement collaborative programs. While school leaders are not directly responsible for conceptualization and implementation of every innovative school program, they are responsible for the school culture, climate, and policies that can either enhance or inhibit the implementation of innovative partnerships.