Outrageous leadership: Three exemplary principals and the climate they create

S. Anne Roderiguez, University of Pennsylvania


Among the critical competencies of effective educational leadership, promoting a positive school climate is essential for it has a far-reaching impact on maintaining a purposeful and supportive instructional environment. This is a pragmatic and crucial factor that influences a school community. This research examined the ways in which three Catholic elementary school principals fostered a positive school climate in schools serving economically poor students where achievement is relatively high and climate is positive. Its purpose was to answer two central questions: What are the principal attitudes and behaviors, evidenced in the interactions and relationships that occur in the typical routines and unexpected situations of the school day, that help to sustain a positive school climate? What are the characteristics of principal practices that teachers and students identify, from their stakeholder perspectives as contributing to a positive school climate and that they especially value and appreciate as supportive of them? This investigation uncovered what was really going on in the daily realities of these principals. I reviewed standardized test scores from the economically lowest Catholic elementary schools in a large Northeastern city. I selected five schools that evidenced current 8th grade good relative student achievement. I administered a school climate survey to faculty and a sampling of 6 th, 7th and 8th grade students to distinguish schools having a high degree of perceived positive climate. Through a quantitative analysis, I selected three achieving schools with reported strong positive climate. A within-case (i.e. school) and cross-case analysis of qualitative data yielded firsthand descriptive information to confirm what these principals did to maintain a positive environment. Themes of personal regard, a caring-competency dynamic, belief in students, and a safety framework that fosters social trust emerged as central to their practices. Through its rootedness in participants' voices, this research provides a credible and motivational catalyst for principals in making personal decisions about their commitment to essential priorities. Attention to school climate characterizes effective intentional and responsive leadership. This study shows how principals can be key to establishing a respectful school context that can facilitate teaching and learning.

Subject Area

School administration|Elementary education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Roderiguez, S. Anne, "Outrageous leadership: Three exemplary principals and the climate they create" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3255861.