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Abstract

More than ever, the challenges facing Catholic schools and Catholic school leaders require a “readiness to renew and adapt” (Vatican Council II, 1965). The skills and dispositions developed through applied action research—inquiry that is systematic, practitioner driven, and change oriented—are integral to the formation of teachers and leaders who will meet these challenges head on and strengthen Catholic schools for generations to come. The following action research project was conducted by a Catholic school leader who is a recent graduate of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame. The article you will read is one product of the comprehensive, four-course action research sequence that is a hallmark of the Remick Leadership Program, and is discussed in greater detail in the focus section overview. As you read on, you will notice that action research is highly contextualized—responsive to the specific needs in a particular school community—but also reflective of the broader educational research literature, and the rich traditions and teachings of our Catholic faith. We hope this action research inquiry informs your own practice, and inspires you to pursue mission driven and data informed leadership practices to bring about positive change in your own school or community.Most Holy Trinity Catholic School in Phoenix, Arizona, has experienced a decrease in student enrollment over the last decade, resulting in a reduction to a single class per grade across the PreK-8 community. Recent concerns have surfaced regarding student and teacher isolation, marginalization, and their effects on the broader relationships within the school community. To address these issues, school leaders implemented a house system in an effort to foster stronger communal relationships. This action research project used a survey design to gather quantitative and qualitative data to examine changes in stakeholder perceptions of community and Catholic identity after implementing the intervention. Results indicated that the implementation of the house system led to significant positive changes in stakeholders’ perceptions of school community and Catholic identity.

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