Browsing Educational Leadership, Administration, and Foundations by Author "St.Peters,Timothy R."
The Religious Spirituality of an Indiana Public School Leader and its Influence on the SchoolSt.Peters,Timothy R.As schools expand secularization and laws limiting religious expression increase, one must not forget the religious spirituality of the individual. Individual religious spirituality is still protected under the United States Constitution. Many researchers feel that this religious spirituality should be nurtured, not discouraged in public schools. Multiple studies seen in the literature review show that spiritual and religious commitment directly leads to increased academic success and decreased risk taking behaviors in students. The school leader has the ability to encourage, foster, and enrich religious spirituality in students while following established law regarding the separation of church and state. All along, he or she must keep in mind that their own religious spirituality and the religious spirituality of the community may affect and, to some degree, direct how these laws are interpreted, implemented, and followed by the school leader. Questions then arise: How do school leaders implement these laws? Do the community‘s views on religious spirituality direct these decisions? Does current policy direct these decisions? Does the religious spirituality of the school leader play a role in decision making in this arena? The purpose of this qualitative case study was to look at the religious spirituality of a public school leader and to ascertain if it has any influence on the school. Does the religious spirituality of the school leader affect which after school programs are encouraged to flourish, which religious teachings are allowed through the doors (e.g., Campus Life, Young Life, community church youth groups, clergy programs), which classes are taught, what religious expressions are considered appropriate, how current law is interpreted related to religious spirituality, overall student morale, teacher/student personal relationships, moral growth opportunities for students, or which textbooks are purchased? Results were collected through observations, interviews, and documentation of artifacts at a predetermined school where religious spirituality was known to be present in the school leader. The study reviewed current trends and past decisions regarding religious spirituality and education, looked at research related to the benefits of religion and spirituality, examined one school where religious spirituality was known to be present in the school leader, and attempted to ascertain whether the religious spirituality of this school leader influences the school. This research was not meant to delve into the intricacies of the separation of church and state debate, but was intended to merely look at the religious spirituality of a public school leader and to ascertain if this has any influence on the school. Observation and interviews with this leader and his staff brought forth a great deal of information, but such a small sample in this qualitative case study could not permit generalizations (Patton, 2002).However, the study did find that the religious spirituality of the individual does not appear to lay dormant when said individual enters the public school doors, and the literature review showed that religious spirituality in the lives of individuals is inherent, wants to come out, and appears to have a positive impact. This study showed that the religious spirituality of a school leader can impact the school by allowing for religiously spiritual opportunities and growth. It was determined that this in turn has the possibility of enhancing the lives of students, allowing for opportunities for growth in young people in the area of their own religious spirituality and shows the real impact of how the religious spirituality of a school leader can impact the school.