School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Andrea Beam


School Culture, School Leaders, Leadership, Teacher Leaders, Organizational Culture, School Climate


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to identify how school leaders shape school culture and specifically what behaviors contribute to a positive school culture. The central question framing this study was: How do school leaders influence a positive school culture? I conducted a multiple case study at two central Pennsylvania public middle schools, referred to by the pseudonyms of Montem Middle School and Silvan Middle School. These schools were identified by the 2018 Niche report as having a positive school culture, which was affirmed through the district’s own survey data. Through purposeful sampling, I identified school leaders to respond to interview questions. In addition to interviews, I gathered public artifacts displayed throughout the schools and on the schools’ websites and observed faculty/committee meetings and classroom and hallway interactions. Using case study methodology, I analyzed the data and developed a detailed description of each case. From these descriptions, I identified key themes for understanding the complexity of school culture and the leadership behaviors that contribute to a positive school culture for each school (within-case analysis) followed by a comparison of the school cultures (cross-case analysis). The themes included expectations and values, vision and foundations of culture/climate, listening and problem-solving, relationships and building leaders, and appreciation. The findings of this study confirmed the significant influence that school leaders have on school culture, emphasized that a variety of stakeholders fulfill the roles of school leaders in formal and informal ways, and provided specific behaviors of school leaders that positively influence a school’s culture.