Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership

Major Professor

Judith A. Ponticell, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

John Mann, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Vonzell Agusto, Ph.D.


school culture, reverse magnet middle school, appreciative inquiry, culture of care


This capstone project was part of a group project completed by five school and district administrators in Hillsborough County, Florida. The project began because of our passion for teachers who are able to establish a culture of care in their classrooms that support students academically but transform their learning through experiences that enable them to be more highly engaged and productive students, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, perceived academic abilities, and backgrounds.

My focus in this group project was an exploration of how Walker Middle Magnet School became more diverse while increasing student achievement during the conversion to a ‘reverse magnet’ and subsequent authorization as an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program. It explores the challenges in building a positive and equitable learning environment.

Selected literature was reviewed that concentrated on traditional schools, magnet schools, ‘reverse’ magnet schools, equity, local transportation, magnet transportation, International Baccalaureate-Middle Years Program, Appreciative Inquiry, and Appreciative Organization. Key findings in my area of focus included increases in student diversity and achievement, identification of gaps in students’ affective experiences in the school, importance of shared narratives to build community and address implicit biases, and the role of the principal in shifting culture.