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How to Build a Vibrant School Culture


School culture is a school’s climate, its atmosphere, its values. James Collins and Jerry Porras call it the “core ideology’…the enduring character of an organization ‘“ a consistent identity that transcends product or market life cycles, technological breakthroughs, management fads, and individual leaders.’


How does a strong school culture impact student achievement and other important indicators’”and how did schools with a strong and positive climate develop, maintain, and promulgate that culture? Lastly, how can schools make their culture stronger’”or even create one, if the current climate is floundering or non-existent?


This module will provide the means to identify the main tenets of a vibrant school culture and its impact on student achievement, as well as other qualities of a high-functioning school. This knowledge, along with an assessment of a school’s current culture, provides the foundation for developing a plan to improve the school culture and then assess the impact of the changes.


Key concepts

  • Often schools do not attend to building a vibrant school culture, and that has consequences.

  • School culture can be developed; it is not a given.

  • A strong school culture can impact student achievement, parent and community involvement, and a variety of other important qualities of a school.




1 Day




Abner Oakes


Abner Oakes is a K–12 education consultant and writer based in the Washington, D.C. area. He has been a senior program associate at Learning Point Associates; worked at Modern Red SchoolHouse and consulted for organizations, such as SchoolWorks, the Global Sleepover, Eduventures, and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School for Public Policy; and for 16 years taught language arts to middle and high school students. He blogs about the K-12 world at

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