The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives and strategies internal and external stakeholders used to support students in a career academy serving a predominately Latinx community. Within this case study, the principal of the school was Latinx, grew up within the same community as the school, and therefore shared the same culture as his students. Thus, we wondered how effective the principal would be in overcoming the cultural, political, and social barriers of students in the predominately Latinx school. We found the school leaders had a heightened awareness of organizational, cultural, and political complexities because of their own personal investment as well as their lived experiences of living and growing up in the community. The identities of the school leaders, then, led to a collective sense of agency and transformational leadership practices that facilitated a change in the grim situations and prospects of their students, and motivated them to become role models and community leaders providing resources and supports to ensure the high academic performance of students in the academy. However, we also realized that cultural understanding may sometimes lead to parochial views on what is best for students, leading to practices that prevent the exploration of student options beyond high school.


Career Academy, Case Study, Culturally Relevant Leadership, Identity Theory, Latinx Students, Urban School Leaders

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Edward C. Fletcher Jr., EHE Distinguished Associate Professor in Workforce Development and Education, has published on topics related to the project and presented at international, national, and local levels on student participation, experiences, and outcomes related to academies using qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. His research agenda focuses on the role and impact of career and technical education (CTE) contexts (i.e., academies) on students schooling experiences and long-term outcomes related to postsecondary education and in the labor market, particularly for African American students. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: fletcher.158@osu.edu.

Dr. Victor M. Hernandez-Gantes (Co-PI), Associate Professor in Career and Workforce Education, has a Ph.D. in Educational Research and Evaluation. For several years, he served as an Associate Researcher at the Center on Education and Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining the faculty at USF, he served as Senior Educational Researcher in the Center for Educational Technologies. He has published on the participation of students in career academies and related outcomes. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: victorh@usf.edu.

Dr. Chrystal A.S. Smith is an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Department of Anthropology at University of Connecticut. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: chrystal.smith@uconn.edu.


This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (Grant # 1614707).

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