Page 10 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - DBU Journal for K-12 Educational Leadership

8 Chad Adam Nichols, EdD as a fundamental element of organizational culture that informs all other aspects of the culture (Greer & Horst, 2014; Gruenert & Whitaker, 2015; Peterson & Deal, 2009). The findings of the current study supported this assertion as 100% of participants agreed or strongly agreed with the assertion that all stakeholders must understand the mission. Participants again affirmed the significance of mission to school culture when 95% of participants supported the idea that mission, vision, and values should inform all decisions of the organization. In a corollary to the significance of mission, participants were in 100% agreement that biblical instruction and spiritual development were necessary to build a strong school culture. Because participants represent private Christian schools, biblical instruction and spiritual development are at the core of their mission. Leadership The importance of leadership to school culture was a repeated theme in the literature (Capp, 2018; Craig, 2012; Gruenert & Whitaker, 2015; Longin, 1995; Peterson & Deal, 2009). Of participants, 89.5% indicated the significance of leadership, affirming the axiom that school culture is dictated, to a great extent, by those in positions of leadership. The administrator is connected to all axioms derived from participants, giving them direct contact with efforts to maintain school culture. Relationships Among participants 94.7% recognized strong relationships as an indicator of strong school culture. Hofer (2001) recognized relationships as one of six factors contributing to the success of private independent schools, and Craig (2012) linked strong relationships to academic performance increases in students. School culture fosters relationships which in turn foster the school culture, making school culture a construct that is in a constant state of flux (Mills, 2003). The relationships among and between stakeholder groups provide a mechanism to transmit and reinforce the mission, vision, and values of the school. Practice It is critical that the schools establish a clear mission statement. This idea was underscored by previous research, which noted the centrality of mission to strong school culture (Peterson & Deal, 2009). It is not enough, however, for a school to merely possess a strong mission statement. That mission must be communicated to engrain it in the ethos of the school. Mission, when consistently communicated, can influence the culture of the school in a positive way. The communication of the mission, according to participants, will take the form of the policies, procedures, and programs being developed based on their alignment with the school’s mission, vision, and values. This practice was underscored by Greer and Horst (2014), who call for the deliberate attention to mission within the minutiae of practice that takes the mission from theory to practice. Seeing the mission in practice galvanizes stakeholders through its centrality in all areas of the school. Participants agreed that in the context of the private Christian school the centrality of biblical instruction and spiritual development are fundamental to the mission of the school. The very identity of the school is contingent upon biblical instruction and spiritual development. The unifying thread that binds all other purposes together is the biblically based, spiritual purpose of the school. The Christian purpose of the school also serves as a binding agent among stakeholders. According to participants, the role of the administrator is central in maintaining a strong school culture. Longin (1995) underscored the significance of the role of the administrator through the contention that the administrator serves as an exemplar for the behaviors and actions that reflect the daily practice of the school’s values and beliefs. The centrality of the administrators’ role means that while the practices outlined in the 10 axioms can and should be exercised by all stakeholders, the onus for their execution lies first with the administrator. Participants affirmed the significance of hiring and firing decisions in school culture. For this reason, rigorous