Date of Graduation

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department/Program

Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Betty Taylor

Third Advisor

Ellen Herda

Abstract

This study explored the critical challenges and opportunities in K–12 public education in the U.S. Virgins Islands (USVI). Specifically, this study sought to understand the USVI education leaders’ experiences in their public education system as a whole, the challenges and opportunities they faced, their perceptions of the institution’s greatest strengths, and their perceptions on the future of education in the territory. This research also explored which factors influence educational-leadership success in the USVI.

The study employed appreciative inquiry as a theoretical framework. Application of the core principles of appreciative inquiry laid the foundation for a narrative-based qualitative inquiry into educational success in the USVI. Central questions that guided this research were (a) What are the perceived experiences of education leaders in the USVI public education system? (b) How do education leaders in the USVI perceive the factors that contribute to the challenges in education in the Virgin Islands? (c) To what extent have U.S. federal mandates on education impacted the Virgin Islands’ education system? (d) What factors have contributed to USVI leaders’ perceptions of opportunities and implications for change?

Eight participants shared their experiences and perceptions of leadership in the USVI. The findings of this study identified various leadership challenges in USVI public education as well as best practices in leadership and learning. Due to their intimate connections to and in the public education system, participants felt personally and iv collectively responsible for their leadership actions They all recognized the uniqueness of leadership in an insular territory. They understood the challenges of implementing policies of imposed macrolevel sanctions in a highly political and dynamic mesolevel structure. Armed with this understanding and “collective will,” they were able to mitigate and overcome these challenges and act at the microsystem level to positively impact academic success in the USVI.

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