Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

William R. Black, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Zorka Karanxha, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Bárbara Cruz, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Phil Smith, Ph.D.


Professional Development, Schools of Hope, Turnaround Schools


Cheryl High School (CHS) is a geographically large county in Florida that received funding through the state of Florida's "Schools of Hope” grant. The grant’s parameters called on Carter County Schools (CCS) to partner with an external consultant and a research university to help improve teacher and school administrative capacity. The district chose Scientific Pedagogy Services (SPS) and to continue their existing relationship with Tampa Bay State University (TBS). The consultant’s mission was to improve school performance through a unique form of professional development. TBS was charged with developing an on-site program that funded staff efforts to obtain advanced degrees in education. This year-long policy ethnographic study utilized 14 months of observations and teacher interviews along with an analysis of pertinent documents. By utilizing the single case of Cheryl High and ethnographically studying the grant implementation efforts, this study sought to answer questions about how the Schools of Hope grant was enacted and how the staff made meaning of the process. The study's findings indicate that many stakeholders believed the implementation effort had several positive effects, but that most also believed the timeline was too rapid and limited its capacity for success. CCS, TBS, and CHS believed in the need for quality leadership, but inexperience and personnel struggles affected the project’s capacity to turnaround CHS. The grant’s authors employed varied incentives for improving pedagogical skill and staff retention, but many found the enticements to be insufficiently communicated and insubstantial.