Date of Award

10-26-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Donna Breault - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito

Third Advisor

Dr. Ronda Tighe

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robert Michael

Abstract

The U.S. Census bureau projects that by 2023, minorities will comprise more than half of all children. The population of school-aged Hispanic children is already the largest ethnic group, and the sheer number and rate of increase of these linguistically and culturally different students creates unfamiliar cultural challenges for school leaders. School districts are confronted with diversity-related issues and school leaders, who are predominantly white and middle class, are often ill-prepared to meet the challenges. Effective professional development aimed at preparing school leaders to better understand the social and academic needs of culturally diverse students is a topic receiving much attention in recent years. Studying the social, cultural, and political circumstances of diversity in its natural setting offers particular advantages that other methods cannot replicate. One suggestion is for school leaders to spend time in the local communities of their Hispanic students. Another option for learning about culture, albeit a more difficult and costly one to achieve, is to have school leaders visit the home country of their Hispanic students and immerse themselves in the local culture for a short period of time. A school district in Georgia decided to provide authentic culture learning for some of its school leaders through a short term cultural immersion experience. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an eight-day cultural immersion trip to Xalapa, Mexico on school leaders from the Mary County School District in Georgia. Because this short-term cultural immersion experience was aimed at increasing the cultural awareness of school leaders and improving relationships with Hispanic students and their families, the primary focus of this study is to explore the meanings attached to the experiences of administrators participating in the trip.

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