Examining Physical Space, Leadership Inheritance, and “Authentic” Community Engagement through Co-Constructed Autoethnography

Claire Ramsey 1 * , Allison Ricket 1

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp. 161-178

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Emerging educational administration leaders must navigate pre-established terrain to affect transformational change. However, an educational organization’s pre-existing, bureaucratic climate, culture, and structure can create obstacles for emerging leaders in rural Appalachian school systems. This issue is further complicated for emerging female leaders in rural areas. Therefore, it is important to understand how emerging educational leaders negotiate and create meaningful change in an already established system where leaders in power have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. Through their own, co-constructed, autoethnographic experiences Claire and Allison explore the research questions: To what extent did an existing community-oriented group embody Block’s (2018) Community: The Structure of Belonging concepts and methodologies? Where are opportunities for transformation within the pre-existing structure of the BAC? The process of understanding these research questions presented Claire and Allison with an opportunity to foster the transformative growth of their educational leadership identities. This qualitative approach encourages Claire and Allison to explore the intersectionalities of their roles within their school-community. The findings yield three prevailing themes: physical space reveals paradigm, inheritance of leadership, and “authentic” community engagement. This study aims to be informative for educational administration leaders, policy makers, and BAC stakeholders who desire to understand that Claire and Allison’s experiences, though not generalizable, have transferable qualities and assist in understanding similar situations which occur in public, educational organizations.

Keywords: “Authentic” Community Engagement, Co-Constructed Autoethnography, Educational Administration, Leadership Inheritance.