Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Seema Imam

Second Advisor

Jack Denny



Children are born with the potential to become successful in life, provided their developmental needs are met. One component is developing the foundational skills, behavior, and attitude that will remain essential ingredients for a successful life. While most children entering school are prepared to learn, there may be some who lack foundational skills that prevent them from learning. The change leadership model developed by Wagner, Kegan, Lahey, Lemons, Garnier, Helsing, and Ark (2006) was used to assess the culture, context, conditions, and competencies of a small, nonpublic Islamic school located in a suburban area. This study aimed to explore the factors that cultivate grit in the learning of young children by examining the student-teacher mentorship program in Guidance School of Excellence (GSE) (pseudonym). Additionally, I examined how human relationships help students develop noncognitive skills from an early age, and guide them to better understand their learning goals. Teachers' perceptions and students' self-evaluations were used to collect data using an online survey and focus area group discussions. Based on qualitative data analysis, the findings revealed that teachers' consistent, purposeful and deliberate conversations and personal connections with the students helped cultivate noncognitive skills, motivation and grit in young children. It also provided us with an understanding that the self-directed learning cycle used in the mentorship process guides students towards a better understanding of their learning goals. Consequently, I proposed a policy to implement a consistent student and teacher mentorship program for GSE's primary and elementary grades.