Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Leadership, Administration, and Research


College of Education


James Coaxum, III, Ph.D

Committee Member 1

JoAnn Manning, Ed.D.

Committee Member 2

Christopher Manno, Ed.D.


Alternative education


Education | Educational Leadership | Secondary Education


This autoethnographic study aims to answer the following questions: How can a school leader design a culturally sensitive, inclusive alternative education program? What type of systemic change does an alternative school leader believe to be most effective in supporting students in attaining a high school diploma and a solid postsecondary plan to become productive members of society? What characteristics of culture and climate are most critical in an alternative school setting? The study focused on 4 years and tells how a school leader successfully changed the school culture and climate to best serve students and staff in the alternative school setting. The study viewed these activities through research. Effective school culture can be identified through six factors, namely collaborative leadership, teacher collaboration, professional development, unity of purpose, collegial support, and learning partnership. The study also used Schein (2010) as a framework to gain a deeper understanding of culture. The educational field should find this study helpful as it can be replicated to improve student outcomes for the most vulnerable students.