Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Zorka Karanxha, Ed.D

Committee Member

Valerie J. Janesick, Ph.D

Committee Member

Margarethe Kusenbach, Ph.D

Committee Member

Patricia Alvarez-McHatton, Ph.D


business, community, partnership, principal, school, social constructivism


A strong partnership between a school and the surrounding community leads to school success. Schools can be more successful with community involvement and engagement than if functioning in isolation. Community engagement leads to greater academic achievement of students.

Utilizing qualitative case study methods, this study focused on the perspective of school and community partners on building relationships. The purpose of this study was to describe and explain selected participants' perspectives on how a school builds partnerships with the community. I studied the relationship between an elementary school and community partners that have been in existence for at least three years to better understand each participant's view of the partnership. The social constructivism theoretical framework was used to better understand how effective partnerships are built and maintained.

As the researcher, my goal was to study the diverse significance the participants had established for their contribution in school and community partnerships based on their subjective experiences. Specifically, with this study I attempted to answer these questions:

1) What are the characteristics of a collaborative relationship between a school and the surrounding community that are essential in order to build partnerships that meet the goals of each participant involved?

2) What are the roles of the school leader, support staff, and community members in building relationships between the school and the community?

I also aimed at determining how the school's leadership directly relates to and affects the partnership building process between the school and the community partners.

Three major themes emerged as a result of the data gathered. Building a solid infrastructure emerged as the foundation of strong partnership between the school and the community. Adhering to mandated policy, focusing on student centered goals, and working within systems were vital elements of building a solid infrastructure. Defining clear roles also emerged as instrumental. The roles of the principal, school staff, and community were clearly defined. Demonstrating collaborative character traits emerged as a third theme that was necessary to build a positive relationship. The meaning that the community partners and school staff have put on building relationships became apparent. Fostering authentic community engagement in communities that leads to expected outcomes for all stakeholders involved is most productive when schools and community members work together.