Childhood resilience of African American school leaders

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Angella Hauser (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Ulrich Reitzug

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine what African Americans who serve in upper-level school leadership positions and who have faced significant barriers as children attribute to their resilience and success. I focused on individual resilience, using the definition summarized by VanBreda (2001): "[R]esilience theory addresses the strengths that people and systems demonstrate that enable them to rise above adversity" (p. 1). The researcher utilized qualitative methodology in conducting research. To select participants, the researcher used a purposive sampling method. The participant sampling was also a sampling of convenience, as the researcher tried to find participants located within the same county of the researcher's residence. In order to identify potential participants, I networked with professional contacts who have knowledge, position, and power to gain access to the participants. My networking contacts called Gatekeepers provided me with the names of African American male and female participants who are currently serving as principals, assistant principals, or in upper level district positions. Pseudonyms were used for the gatekeepers and the participants. During a three-month period, in-depth individual interviews were conducted with five African American male and female principals who excelled academically despite adversity. The participant's perspectives on how they overcame adversity and achieved academic success are essential for identifying and understanding the factors attributed to their resilience and success. Ideally, the results of this study may be helpful to districts in providing professional development opportunities that focuses on school factors that will contribute to the success of African American students demonstrating resilience. Furthermore, it may inform the parents and community regarding programs focused on creating and enhancing the personal and environmental attributes that promote achievement outcomes for other youth in high risk environments (Fraser, 2004; Wang & Gordon, 1994). Findings from the study revealed that protective factors across multiple contexts of students' lives contributed to their academic success despite adversity. Eight themes emerged: precise parenting practices, financial hardships as a motivator, school-based professionals as parental figures, creating a cultural of high expectations, positive student praise and recognition, supportive relational networks within the community, community and church participation, and belief in God.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
African American, Challenges, Poverty, Resilience, School Leaders, Youth
Resilience (Personality trait)
African American school principals $v Case studies
Educational leadership $v Case studies

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