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

Zorka Karanxha, Ed.D.


teacher leadership, teacher empowerment, high performing school culture


This capstone project was part of a group project completed by two principals in elementary schools and a principal coach in Hillsborough County, Florida. Each of the team members has a passion for the work of administrator and lead learner in a turnaround school. Through creating a culture of teacher leadership, especially in high poverty schools, we believe students will succeed. We were looking for what a high performing school culture would look like if teachers were leading the work through ongoing inquiry and personalized support.

My individual focus was, how can district and school leaders support a culture where teachers are leading teachers? As a principal coach, I am responsible for supporting principals at all levels in the schools within my area. I am also responsible for creating professional learning experiences that will permeate into the schools where leaders will take action and where teachers are empowered to make decisions to address the needs of their students.

Selected literature was reviewed that considers how to create a system of support for leaders (teachers, administrators) who are increasingly expected to lead more autonomously when they have traditionally been provided directives through district initiatives that emphasize accountability. Themes in the literature reviewed included: community re-norming, teaching/learning symbiosis, and leadership that is proactive and reflective (inquiring).

Key findings in my area of focus included valuing professional community and supporting it; moving control of professional development from the district to schools; developing models to allocate time for professional development at the school level; clarifying school and district leaders’ roles in supporting teacher leadership; and assessing and prioritizing district initiatives to determine what is really needed at school sites ̶ particularly in turnaround schools.