Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - NLU Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Harrington Gibson

Second Advisor

Linell Monson-Lasswell

Third Advisor

Mark Larsen


In the fall of 1988 the Illinois legislature passed legislation entitled, the Illinois School Reform Act. The goal of this legislation was to centralize power and decision making at the local school level. This study examines site based management at four schools in the Chicago Public School system (CPS). The design of this research is qualitative in nature. My intention is to be able to capture a real sense of the thoughts, feelings and actions of local school leadership and what makes them effective in their work. Data was gathered through multiple sources, in the form of interviews, observations, and focus groups. I then analyzed the data to look for trends or common themes. A total of five common themes emerged through this research and several implications are made for school and district leadership.


Webster’s Dictionary defines the word evolve as to develop gradually by a process of growth and change. Based on this definition people evolve all the time. This evolution comes in part from a person’s experiences, many challenges, and acquired knowledge throughout this life journey. These experiences and journeys help guide and shape each individual person. Michael Fullen (2008) in the book, The Six Secrets of Change, states that the evolutionary theory travels. “That the idea that plants, animals, and human kind adapt to changing environments over time. That this theory predicts and finds that long-term evolution favors ever expanding boundaries of cooperative behavior.” (p.8) You can see much of this through my entire story. The influence of my family, my valued educational experiences, and the various jobs that I have held have been a part of my personal and professional evolutionary process on my educational journey to further examine leadership strategies.

I grew up in a middle class family on the Southside of Chicago to two wonderful, supportive, intelligent parents. My mother is an astounding, intelligent, African American woman that has dedicated over 40 years of her life and counting to educating people of all ages. My father was a strong, intelligent, wonderful African American man who dedicated over 35 years of his life to serving youth. They both truly resonate what Jim Collins calls an Executive Level Five Leader from the Jossey-Bass Reader. He states that an Executive Level Five Leader is a “leader who builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” (p. 31) Through my life travels I hope to one day become the Executive level, transformative leader that they have been. These traits have made them invaluable participants to the organizations they have been a part of.

I would like to express gratitude to the following individuals.

To the participants —this dissertation would not have been possible if it weren't for your willingness to participate in this study. Thank you for sharing the insight of your daily work. More importantly, thank you for sharing your hope for a brighter future. Each of you was so gracious with your time and open with your hearts.

To my doctoral committee – Dr. Harrington Gibson thank you for sticking with me throughout the entire process. Dr. Norman Weston, Dr. Elizabeth Minor, Dr. Mark Larsen, and Dr. Linell Monson-Lasswell you have opened up so many learning experiences for me in our classes together, through this dissertation process and supporting me through this committee process. I have been incredibly fortunate to have such thoughtful, dedicated, and supportive committee members.

I would like to say a special thank you to my wonderful husband who has supported me through all my endeavors, especially pushing me through this process. My daughters, Sydney and MacKenzie, I push every day to be an inspiration for you both…thank you for pushing me. My mother-in-law, Sigrid Prendergast, thank you for your patience and helping me with the girls while I completed this program.

To my friends and other family members, especially my sisters, and close friends whose love, understanding, and support I am grateful for every day—thank you for being patient with me, and always providing motivation and encouraging words.

Lastly, I dedicate this to my mother, Dr. Olivia L. Watkins and my father, Mr. Warren D. Watkins. My mother, who pushed me every day to finish this program, her strength and drive are outstanding and I strive every day to be as outstanding as she is. My father, although he is not here any more physically, he has never stopped being here with me. He would have loved to be here for this moment and I know he is smiling down on me.