Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Harrington Gibson

Second Advisor

Sandra Stringer

Third Advisor

Jason Stegemoller


The media and political affiliations often color the view of charter schools within different sectors of the community. However, there is no argument that there is much to be done improve achievement in our public school systems across the country, especially those who educate high numbers of often marginalized populations. This study looks at one charter school in Chicago, Illinois, which has a focused mission and vision to “Educate Children from the Inside Out.” It examines the school through the social science portraiture method. Data collection includes interviews with current and former staff and students, observations, review of school documents, and reflections of the writer who also founded the school but currently works in another setting. In creating the school’s portrait, the methods of Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot are highly utilized to find common themes and trends that highlight the successful practices, which undergird the school’s overall positive affect on students. Through the voices of alumni more than 10 years after their education began at the school, the teachers who spent more than a decade creating and serving it and the parents who took a chance on a new school and enrolled their kids in an unproven entity, themes for school success emerged. As the school embarks on yet another difficult transition in leadership, the hope is that these trends can help solidify ongoing practices within the school that led to success with this diverse student population.