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2015 ASCD Summer Academies

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September 1998 | Volume 56 | Number 1
Realizing a Positive School Climate Pages 28-30

How Leaders Influence the Culture of Schools

Kent D. Peterson and Terrence E. Deal

School leaders—principals, teachers, and parents—are the key to eliminating toxic culture and building positive culture. Four exemplary school sprovide a glimpse of what this kind of leadership provides.

Parents, teachers, principals, and students often sense something special and undefined about the schools they attend. For decades, the terms climate and ethos have been used to capture this pervasive, yet elusive, element we call "culture."

Although hard to define and difficult to put a finger on, culture is extremely powerful. This ephemeral, taken-for-granted aspect of schools, too often over-looked or ignored, is actually one of the most significant features of any educational enterprise. Culture influences everything that goes on in schools: how staff dress, what they talk about, their willingness to change, the practice of instruction, and the emphasis given student and faculty learning (Deal & Peterson, 1994; Firestone & Wilson, 1985; Newmann & Associates, 1996).

 

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