Cynthia Mitchell Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education, Health and

Human Sciences

Announces the Final Examination of

Cynthia Alexander Mitchell

for the degree of

Doctor of Education

April 8, 2015 2:30 pm

405 Ball Hall, University of Memphis

Memphis, TN


Biographical Sketch

Bachelor of Science, Human Learning K-8, University of Tennessee

Masters of Education, Administration and Supervision, Freed-Hardeman University

Advisory Committee

Dr. Beverly E. Cross, Ph.D., Holder of the Chair of Excellence, Education, Health and Human Sciences, Committee Chair

Dr. Reginald Green, Ed.D., Professor, Education, Leadership and Policy

Dr. Angiline Powell, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Instruction and Curriculum Leadership

Dr. Satomi Taylor, Ph.D., Professor, Instruction and Curriculum Leadership

Major Field of Study

Instruction and Curriculum Leadership

Period of Preparation: 2010 – 2015

Comprehensive Examination Passed: April, 2013






In today’s society, school leaders are confronted with the needs and perspectives that students from diverse cultural backgrounds bring to the school within both urban and suburban communities (Moll, 1992). Educators face challenges of how to assist children who come from diverse groups and how to navigate school verses home life (Banks, 2001). Culture, cultural competence, and proficiency are essential to understanding school (Bustamante, Nelson, & Onwuegbuzie, 2009). With increasing diversity in schools,   for innovative approaches are essential for leaders to have culturally responsive characteristics and capacities (Madhlangobe & Gordon, 2012).

The purpose of this quantitative study was to identify characteristics that establish the key characteristics for culturally responsive leadership who serve in the role of urban school leaders. This identification clarified and attempts to offer a distinction of the definition of culturally responsive school leaders and teachers which are seen as synonymous. This studies aim was to offer a clear distinction between the roles of culturally responsive teachers versus school leaders (i.e. Principals, Assistant Principals, Guidance Counselors, and Central Office Leadership).

Participants shared their academic experiences through a three round Delphi Method to identify qualities that establish the key characteristics for culturally responsive leadership in the roles of urban school leaders.   For this study, 12 participants who currently served in a leadership role in education were included. These leaders understood the expectations and challenges of leadership and had seven or more years of experience working with populations that reflect cultural diversity among the students served within the United States.

The findings in this study suggest that each of the participants’ responses was a reflection of their separate and shared views. The fundamental agreement among participants is the fact that there were particular characteristics essential for urban school leader to be successful in culturally diverse situations.   Urban school leader who identify and participate in professional practices that improve the way communicate learning could led to genuine transformation of student outcome with a genuine understanding of cultural responsiveness.

Finally, readers of this study should be able to see that there are six characteristics, based on an analysis of the data, which identified as essential to the success culturally responsive leaders. The culturally responsive leaders is inclusive, culturally aware, shared leadership, visionary, instructional leadership, and equitable. Lastly, when these conditions are present, culturally responsive leaders have the opportunity to restructure teaching and learning and shape the total community.