Charis Eirene Sharp, Ph.D. is a 2008 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Pamela Kraus, Ph.D., Committee Member


transformational leadership, small schools, schools-within-a-school, middle schools, teacher leadership, student leadership, parent leadership, q method, private schools

Document Type


Publication Date



Smaller schools have become an extremely popular school reform model. Research that connects them to student achievement is being used to support and create autonomous small schools as well as schools-within-schools. While it would seem to be a logical application, the schools-within-schools model is not performing at the levels expected as indicated by the small schools research. Research on these two different school settings needs to be separated, examined, and applied independently. Areas lacking research include questions about which aspects of schools support the functioning of the school, such as leadership. This study used Q-methodology to study leadership in a small private school in Seattle, Washington. The school has 84 students and ranks at high levels on several scales of leadership and climate that have been correlated to high levels of student achievement. Q-method quantifies the opinions of study participants in such a way as to find groups of similar responses represented by factors. This study found an unusually high degree of consensus among the participants of the study and that there were no clear distinctions between the perspectives of the groups. The resulting single factor in this study is characterized by identifying the actions and leadership of the teachers as being most important to smaller school leadership. Also, student leadership and making leadership a part of the whole school program was given a high degree of importance. Leadership by the head of school and leadership actions of the parents were rated lower, respectively, in terms of importance for an effective smaller school. The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible at the OhioLINK ETD Center,