Jesuit Education: Committed to Doing Justice


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Jesuit educational institutions explicitly commit themselves to educating students that are “committed to doing justice” (JSEA 2010) upon graduation and prepared to live lives of justice in the future.  Much of contemporary Western, North American culture opposes this goal.  Secularism, consumerism, hegemony of market rationality, instrumentalization of education, postmodern relativism, and radical individualism all contribute to a context of antagonism toward an Ignatian conception of justice as act and commitment.  Nevertheless Jesuit schools create, implement and sustain multiple methods and programs to further this goal, always insisting that “knowledge is joined to virtue” (ICAJE 1986).

The Ignatian conception of justice, incompatible with secularism, resists reduction to a merely here-and-now, political or ideological agenda and/or method for social change.  The Ignatian vision does seek societal transformation, but in and through the particular Catholic charism of the Society of Jesus.  Jesuit schools exist for the service of faith “of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement” (Arrupe 1973).

They “form men-and-women-for-others; men and women who will live not for themselves but for God . . . men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men and women completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce” (Arrupe).

Love of God and love of neighbor (expressed in acts of justice) cannot be separated.

Pedro Arrupe

Pedro Arrupe

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A Holistic Leadership Framework


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Brauckmann, S., & Pashiardis, P. (2011). A Validation Study of the Leadership Styles of a Holistic Leadership Theoretical Framework. International Journal Of Educational Management, 25(1), 11-32.

The purpose of the study was to determine the effect(s) of school leadership styles on student achievement at the lower secondary level in seven countries and was part of the European Union’s Leadership Improvement for Student Achievement (LISA) project.  The study was done because the relationship between school leadership and school effectiveness – especially student outcomes – remains disputed.

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Principal Leadership & Educational Outcomes


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Dinham, S. (2005). Principal Leadership for Outstanding Educational Outcomes. Journal Of Educational Administration, 43(4), 338-356.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to ascertain the role of Principals in creating high student outcomes in grades 7 to 10 in government schools in New South Wales, Australia.  The study was a part of the Australian Research Council funded, An Exceptional Schooling Outcomes Project (AESOP), in collaboration with the University of New England, the University of Western Sydney and the New South Wales Department of Education and Training (NSW DET).  The study was done because of the need to determine the extent to which principal leadership directly leads to positive school outcomes.

The measure for high student outcomes consisted of the three domains:

the full development of student talents, the attainment of high knowledge and skills standards via curriculum, and social justice

of The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for [Australian] Schools in the Twenty-first Century.  Four research questions were formulated: what activities and behaviors lead to high school performance?  Are there relationships between high academic outcomes, self identity, and social status?  Which institutional factors limit or expand educational success?  Are (and if so, how are) high educational outcomes sharable with other schools?

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Leadership: Student Achievement and School Success


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Jacobson, S. (2011). Leadership effects on student achievement and sustained school success. The International Journal of Educational Management, 25(1), 33-44.

The purpose of this study was to ascertain the effects of school leadership practices – especially of the Principal – on sustained school success under the conditions of high poverty.  The study was conducted because of the increasing evidence suggesting a more direct influence of Principal leadership (not just teacher instruction) on student outcomes.

This study was a specific analysis of the qualitative studies done by the International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP) which include 15 nations creating a database chronicling what successful school leaders did to produce higher levels of student outcomes across multiple contexts.  The original researchers used the same semi-structured interview process transnationally to collect data from principals, teachers, staff, parents and students.  Quality school leadership was assessed using the three core leadership practices identified by Leithwood and Riehl (2005): direction setting, people development, and organization redesign.

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Leadership and Organisational Performance


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Muijs, D. (2011). Leadership and organisational performance: From research to prescription? The International Journal of Educational Management, 25(1), 45-60.

The purpose of this literature review and informal meta-analysis was to examine the current state of research regarding the impact of leadership on student outcomes, the prominent leadership activities correlated to those outcomes, and the general state of the research base upon which leaders are leading and leadership programs are teaching.  The study was done because the interest among political leaders and researchers in school leadership has grown without sufficient examination of the quality of the data used in making prescriptions for schools and their leaders.

The informal meta-analysis resulted in four categories: the extent of leadership effects on student outcomes, the types of leadership that affect student outcomes, leadership development, and the limitations of the current research base.  Muijs identified the massive increase in government expenditure for school leadership development around the globe and pointed out that

though some research suggested a correlation between leadership and school performance, that link was always mediated (usually by shared vision and goals).

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The Religious Dimension of Lay Leadership


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The purpose of this study was to understand the religious dimension of lay leaders in Catholic schools, particularly the role of principal.  This study was done because though Catholic schools purposes and goals have not changed much since their beginning, many complex and powerful changes in Catholic school context have changed, especially the growth of lay leadership in schools.

Using a qualitative interpretivist framework, the researchers employed multiple case studies of six lay principals leading rural Catholic schools in New South Wales, Australia.  The four research questions focused on the principals’ perceptions of their advancement of Catholic mission, the practical ways they enact and extend that mission, the tensions they encounter in that activity, and their perception of their own preparation for the role of Catholic school principal.


The six principals were chosen based on four criteria: five years or more in their position, a mix of genders, different school sizes, and their ability to clearly communicate their experiences as a lay Catholic principal.  Each interview lasted approximate ninety minutes and were followed up by a second interview about one week after the initial.  All interviews were conducted over an eight month period.  Collected data included interviews, field notes, reflexive journals, observations, and documents.

The researchers key findings affirm that principals are critical to promoting and extending Catholic identity as positional leaders who promote interpersonal relationships.  Principal are the key symbolic and cultural leaders of their schools with enormous powers of influence.

Principals articulated the importance of their formation beginning with childhood religious education and upbringing, but unanimously reported a lack of preparation for their role and an equal lack of appropriate ongoing formation

(professional, spiritual, and theological) while in it.  An irregularity in the research was revealed because in this study principals affirmed the importance and help of previous managerial work in schools (eg. as vice principal) whereas much previous research has concluded the opposite.

The study also identified six common challenges faced by lay Catholic principals: keeping Catholic mission and identity central, increases in non-Catholic student populations, difficulties with parish/(arch) diocesan support, changing expectations due to the transition from clerical leadership to lay, gender problems rooted in clerical assumptions about women’s traditional roles, and a continuously growing list of duties that are more and more overwhelming for principals.  The researchers also listed clear implications of their study: the need for public clarity of principals regarding Catholic mission and culture, the primacy of promoting the religious education of students, the need to examine enrollment procedures in the light of the school’s Catholic identity, the need to ensure the hiring of principals with both professional and spiritual competence, and the necessity of staffing theology departments with well-qualified instructors.  Additionally,

new models of shared and collaborative leadership should be employed,

a dedicated position should be created to directly oversee the Catholic mission of the school, parish priests need to see themselves as equal partners with lay school leaders, programs of mentorship as well as professional, spiritual, and theological development for principals need to be enacted.  The authors did not identify the limits of their study or opportunities for future research.

Belmonte, A., & Cranston, N. (2009). The Religious Dimension of Lay Leadership in Catholic Schools: Preserving Catholic Culture in an Era of Change. Catholic Education: A Journal Of Inquiry And Practice12(3), 294-319.

Servant Leadership & School Climate


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The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which servant leadership correlated with perceptions of school climate by identifying if there was a relationship between principals’ and teachers’ perceived practice of servant leadership and of school climate.  The study was done because current research suggests a correlation between servant leadership practice and positive school climate but needs further extension.  The study addressed two research questions: is there a correlation between perceptions of the practice of servant leadership among the sample and perceptions of school climate, and what kind of experiences do the sample have to illustrate those perceptions?


The study used a mixed-method approach and administered two validated quantitative instruments: Laub’s (1998) Organizational Leadership Assessment (OLA) measured the perceived servant leadership in the schools and Hoy, Tarter, & Kottkamp’s (1991) Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire-Revised (OCDQ-RE) measured the school’s climate. The sample consisted of a randomly selected group of 231 full-time teachers and 15 principals working in a Catholic school board in Ontario, Canada.  After completing the quantitative data analysis, the researchers conducted interviews with focus group consisting of twenty-four members of the sample (approximately 10%).

The main findings of the quantitative phase resulted from a canonical correlation analysis and suggested statistically significant positive relationships among the data from both instruments between perception of servant leader practices and perceptions of school climate.

The authors conclude that school leaders who desire to positively impact their school’s climate would be well served by practicing servant leadership.

The study also revealed wide variation between teacher and principal perception of the practice of servant leadership in their schools, with the principals’ perceptions consistently higher than the teachers’.  The study also suggests that leaders who are Christo-centric might be more likely the practice the tenets of servant leadership.  As for school climate, the study showed that principals perceptions of school climate (eg. openness and professionalism in interactions) were consistently higher than teacher perceptions.

The main findings of the qualitative phase point to the importance of valuing employees, developing them, and sharing leadership when it comes to servant leadership practice.  As for school climate, a supportive principal, intimacy between teachers, and collegiality between teachers, emerged as significant factors.

Through their overall canonical analysis the researchers concluded that

a significant positive relationship exists between perceptions of servant leadership practice and perceptions of school climate.

When teachers and principals perceive behavior characterized by servant leadership they also perceive a positive school climate.  The researchers suggest the implementation of servant leadership practices to improve school climate, which is shown to improve student achievement.  The authors suggest future research regarding servant leadership behaviors in order to better serve principals in their training and professional development.  Research is also required to assess the effects of servant leadership on school climates in other populations.  The researchers did not identify the limits of their study.

Black, G. L. (2008). A correlational analysis of servant leadership and school climate. (Order No. 3309254, University of Phoenix). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 214-n/a. Retrieved from (193495440).

A few things I’ll need to keep in mind . . .

But once you’ve done your (field) research, reading, thinking through the chapters, taking notes etc. it really should only take you 6 months to finish the thesis. For PhD students this is referred to as the end of the faffing about/procrastination/reading gawker and daily/existential crisis about the structure of the thesis phase and the start of the “time to suck it up, close the office door, shut off the email, and just f#$@king write” phase.


Principals & Student Leadership, Lavery & Hine (2013)


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The purpose of this study was to determine the most appropriate model of leadership in Catholic schools, the ways in which student leadership can be promoted, and the role of the principal in that promotion.  The study was done because of the importance of developing leadership potential in young people.  The conceptual framework for this study consisted of four constructs: Christian leadership, student leadership, the promotion of student leadership, and the role of the principal in that promotion.

The researchers used the qualitative methods of semiformal interviews and field notes based on observations.  Three research questions were identified: What do principals of Catholic schools understand student leadership to be?  According to these principals what form should student leadership take and what role do they see for themselves in the promotion of such student leadership?  The sample included eight Catholic high school principals, all living and working in Perth, Western Australia.  Each interview averaged close to one hour and took place in the field.  Principals were purposively selected based on their active engagement in issues of student leadership and the presence of leadership programs in their schools.  Sampling variation was maximized by including three coeducational schools as well as two all boys’ schools and two all girls’ schools.  Further, half of the principals were male and half female.

The instrument was trialed prior to data collection to increase its quality and consisted of six interview questions.  Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed, checked for validity by the interviewees, coded, and mined for themes.  This analysis was consistent with the framework of Miles and Huberman (1994) and consisted of data reduction and display, as well as drawing and verifying conclusions.


Analysis identified four themes from each of the three research questions presented under the categories of student leadership, student leadership in Catholic schools, and the role of the principal.  Major findings include: visible identification of student leaders, clear leadership goals, involvement of key staff, the importance of school culture and identity; the primacy of servant leadership, clear vision for student leadership, adequate opportunities for students to lead; the principal as model of leadership, the principal as designer of student leadership opportunities, the principal as chief communicator of school values, and the principal as creator and sustainer of leadership vision.  The researchers found that principals went beyond articulating the importance of student leadership and took active roles in the promotion of that leadership.  Principals personally mentored both individual students and key staff and consistently used the model of servant leadership in their approach.

The researchers made two recommendations:

principals should create a network of key staff to work directly with student leadership development and Catholic education authorities should actively support student leadership programs.

The researchers did not identify the limitations of their study or identify avenues for future research.

Lavery, Shane D., Hine, Gregory S.C. (2013). Catholic School Principals: Promoting Student Leadership. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, 17(1), Article 3