Page 7 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - DBU Journal for K-12 Educational Leadership

Journal of K-12 Educational Research 5 Introduction All organizations have a culture. School culture is the practices derived from the core values and beliefs of the school (Robbins & Alvy, 2014). The need for attention to culture is particularly true of the private Christian school which seeks to lead students in “a life-long, Bible-based, Christ-centered process of leading a child to Christ, building a child up in Christ, and equipping a child to serve Christ” (Schultz, 2002, p. 29). The school culture, consequently, must be guarded to avoid shifts that compromise missional effectiveness. Mills (2003) found that school culture, however, “is in a perpetual state of flux and development and is being continually transformed” (p. 132). The current study sought to define what practices best protect school culture in the private Christian school, and to operationally define cultural integrity. Introduction to the Problem While the many factors that impact school culture have been studied, a clear operational definition of the practices that constitute cultural integrity had not been developed. Mills (2003) noted culture is a complex organism that naturally evolves within an organization. A subtle shift in priorities within the organization can result in an imperceptible adjustment in the culture over a period of time (Greer & Horst, 2014). Culture is the “unwritten mission of the school” and “it tells students and staff why they are there” (Gruenert & Whitaker, 2015, Chapter 3 para. 11). The dynamic relationship between stakeholders and culture means that the culture of the school is in a constant state of flux and can change so subtly that it may not be perceived until the school culture is fundamentally altered. In these ways, the culture both defines the school and is defined by it. Research Questions The following research questions were designed to elicit a holistic conceptualization of cultural integrity in private Christian schools. Research Question 1 (RQ1) What practices are common among schools that foster cultural integrity? Research Question 2 (RQ2) What practices are most effective in maintaining school culture? Research Question 3 (RQ3) What are the most significant threats to maintaining strong school culture? Research Design The current study was qualitative and utilized a grounded theory approach to arrive at its conclusions. Due to the need for several iterations of data collection, the Delphi method offered a solid framework for this process. Delphi Method The Delphi method, an iterative process for data collection, focused on achieving a consensus among the current study participants by studying the number of participants who agreed on questionnaire items (Iqbal & Pipon-Young, 2009). The group coalesced around conclusions that formed the findings of the current study. CULTURAL INTEGRITY: THE DEFINITION IN PRIVATE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS Chad Adam Nichols, EdD Journal of K-12 Educational Research 2022, VOL. 6, ISSUE 1