Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Jay Paredes Scribner

Committee Member

Karen L. Sanzo

Committee Member

Jonna L. Bobzien


There is a need for equity in our schools—especially with respect to the impact of equity on student achievement—and it is important for educational leaders to not only identify issues of teachers’ cultural and ethnic biases in the classroom, but for educational leaders to feel comfortable tackling these issues in an effort to move toward a more socially just educational climate and culture. The purpose of this study was to not only identify how and to what extent culturally relevant instruction and leadership practices manifest in one Southeastern Virginia School, but also the ways that school leaders foster a culturally relevant learning environment. A single case study was chosen for this qualitative research study. There were five major findings as a result of this study. First, the data revealed that educators are shaped by their own personal background experiences, as well as have the ability to understand their students on a deep, personal basis. Further, teachers offer not only a strong instructional program built on collaboration and research-based practices; they also prioritize a “secondary” curriculum grounded in real-world application and personal development. Finally, students have access to a wide web of support offered by the faculty, staff, administration, and community. The results from this study suggest that culturally relevant teachers and administrators are empathetic and understanding of their students’ culture and needs, as well as prioritize educating the whole child by offering not only a strong instructional program, but also real-world instruction and a deep level of support.