Activism in Practice: The Influence of a Rural School Leader’s Beliefs and Practices in Disrupting Historical Patterns of Underachievement in Traditionally Marginalized Students

Keywords: rural superintendent-principal, culturally responsive leadership, relational leadership


Despite the fact that rural communities across the United States are rapidly diversifying (Fusarelli & Militello, 2012), little research has examined the beliefs and practices of successful rural educational leaders, specifically in high poverty schools and districts where traditionally marginalized students demonstrate improving learning outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine the beliefs and practices of a rural educational leader whose school or district met established study criteria for a high poverty, high performing school, in which traditionally marginalized students demonstrate increasingly productive learning outcomes. Interviews with the leader were conducted, and the data were coded and analyzed using a constant comparative method (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

The following research question guided the study:

What impact do the beliefs and practices of a rural school district leader have on the learning outcomes of traditionally marginalized students in the Rocky Mountain West?

The findings from this study contribute to the paucity of research on culturally responsive rural superintendent-principals. Identifying the rural leader’s beliefs and practices provides support for educational leaders who serve in that uniquely rural dual role, about which very little has been written. It informs leadership preparation programs, graduate students, researchers, and policy makers about the need for nuanced culturally responsive training for rural educational leaders.

Author Biography

Kristina A. Hesbol, University of Denver
Assistant Professor Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department


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How to Cite
Hesbol, K. A., Bartee, J. S., & Amiri, F. (2020). Activism in Practice: The Influence of a Rural School Leader’s Beliefs and Practices in Disrupting Historical Patterns of Underachievement in Traditionally Marginalized Students. Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, 5(2), 33–42.