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Organization Development in Educational Contexts
The Churchland Elementary School is situated in Portsmouth, Virginia. It was established in 1954 and initially catered for the educational requirements of students from grade 1to 6 (SchoolDigger, 2015). The present Churchland Elementary School infrastructure was completed four years later and is part of the City of Chesapeake school district system.
In an effort to progress the notion of a healthy organization within the Churchland Elementary School’s organizational growth, documents will be used to assess data. Such document will include yearly financial reports as well as budget survey results. Information contained in these materials will offer details into how the administration is able to ensure an effective audit of its financial performance. The data will offer information as to purchases, financial health of the institution, costs of maintenance, catering as well as transportation services offered at the school. Some of the people to be interviewed will include the principal and deputy principals, randomly selected instructors from each grade, heads of catering, transportation, and finance departments (SchoolDigger, 2015).
Organization Development Process
Organizational strategies inherently correlate with an organization’s adopted mission statement (Gallos, 2006). It is one of the most significant strategies for any healthy organization and serves as a basis point for the formulation, implementation and subsequent evaluation of both the short term and long term organizational objectives and goals (Cummings & Worley, 2011). The Churchland Elementary School’ mission statement provides that its mission is to ‘challenge the minds, challenge the bodies and challenge the dreams of all students while focusing on excellence’ (Portsmouth Public Schools, 2015). Its vision statement calls for ‘strong board leadership, committed and supportive parents, high quality grades, value added programs, exemplary student citizens and the provision of progressive educational facilities that incorporate the latest in technological developments (Portsmouth Public Schools, 2015).’
The schools administration is headed by the principal, Michele Ramey with Rosalyn Exum serving as the assistant principal. The institution’s secretaries are Teneeka Bazemore and Robin West. The kindergarten is run by five instructors, 1st grade by six instructors, the 2nd and 3rd grades by five instructors each, while the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades are supervised by four instructors each (SchoolDigger, 2015). As such, this implies that the school seeks to continually increase the number of students enrolled in higher grades in the next few years. The school also has seven special education instructors, five special education paraprofessionals and one instructor for the gifted and talented students. Others in the schools administration structure include a speech therapist, guidance counselor, school nurse, math resource instructor, three reading resource instructors, a media/library specialist, and five school custodians (SchoolDigger, 2015). Others include the cafeteria staff which is comprised of a team of six, three encore instructors, a technology resources teacher who supervises three computer labs.
The learning institution’s cafeteria operates under the Portsmouth Public Schools’ food services department and is administered upon by Jim Gehlhoff. The financial aspects of the school are overseen by Brittany T. Dortch, the director of accounting/controller. The Parent Teachers Association is composed of volunteers dedicated towards positively influencing the institution’s organizational outcomes. The school employs both formal and informal communication channels to gather information that can improve on the organizational efficiencies and effectiveness (Gallos, 2006); (Cummings & Worley, 2011). However, dissemination of information follows distinct formal processes from the top and gradually communicated downwards in accordance with the hierarchy of intended recipients.
It is critical to ensure that Churchland Elementary Schools continues to perform as a healthy organization in the short term and by extension towards the long term. For this particular institution, the evolutionary theory is considered as the most potent towards enabling greater organizational change (Cummings & Worley, 2011). The evolutionary theory provides that the environment within which an organization exists has to be carefully considered where plans are underway to institute change so as to enable the organization to progressively change with time.
As such, the Churchland Elementary School is currently on the process of implementing an already identified organization strategy. The evolutionary theory will thus be employed as a means through which the school can effectively implement stronger measures to ensure successful outcomes for the identified strategy (Burke & Noumair, 2015).
The organizational strategy under implementation in the learning institution is one of multicultural diversity and inclusivity. This will be further appraised by incorporating the evolutionary theory in pushing forwards the organization’s current strategy (Cummings & Worley, 2011). The implementation plan will involve internal as well as external stakeholders (Cummings & Worley, 2011); (Sallis, 2014). The school’s PTA board, administrative and non-administrative staff, academic staff, school district officials, students and the community at large will all be involved in the change process. The evolutionary theory will first be presented to the PTA board as a way to enable faster implementation of the adopted organizational strategy (Cummings & Worley, 2011).
In this way, the parents will communicate the agenda to the community while the PTA board members who are staff at the institution will communicate to other staff as well as the student community (SchoolDigger, 2015). Among the institution’s PTA board members is a senior member of the public schools district for the city of Portsmouth. This particular school district official will be mandated to communicate the agenda to all officials, both the senior staff and subordinates at the school district headquarters (SchoolDigger, 2015). As the project progresses, circulars, new briefs, public board notices, memos, letters, and emails will be used to communicate progress and objectives to all stakeholders involved herein.
Culture and Elements
The Churchland Elementary Schools cultures as well as elements are defined by the institution’s mission and vision statements (Portsmouth Public Schools, 2015). The school’s mission is to attain excellence in physical, mental and cognitive developments of its students so as to enable them achieve aspired life dreams (Portsmouth Public Schools, 2015). As such, its organizational culture calls for supportive and committed input from parents towards the attainment of its mission and vision (Burke & Noumair, 2015). This is one of the most critical elements ingrained in the schools organizational structure. This is in essence due to the understanding that organizational development in learning institutions which are inherently non industrial is different.
A school like Churchland Elementary faces significant challenges arising from four major viewpoints. To begin with, the contemporary education system is still founded on industrial age paradigms more so, concerning school administration. As such, it is common to find that reform efforts such as the one being effected tend to be slowly implemented and as such project disappointing outcomes in the long term (Gallos, 2006). As the society changes, for instance concerning today’s massive technological advances, the resources available to public schools tend to be overly stressed. On the same note, there are novel metaphors developing and even evolving over time with regards to the definition and purpose of schools.
After lengthy interviews with the school principal and a member of the PTA Board from the school district, there is hope that the strategy presently being implemented will continue to progress in the desired manner and ensure that positive outcomes are realized especially with the integration of notions derived from the evolutionary theory (Cummings & Worley, 2011). As such, these two senior officials in the school have provided that the strategy will overcome such challenges. By building trust among external as well as internal stakeholders, adhering to set strategy guidelines and considering the change process as a learning process, progress towards greater cultural diversity and inclusivity can be comprehensively upheld (Burke & Noumair, 2015).
The implementation process not only offers a learning process but will also be used to formulate a learning design to further positive change in the learning institution’s organizational structure. Through collaboration with all stakeholders at the Churchland Elementary School as well as incorporating recommendations sourced from action research studies, the strategy will be realized fully. The two leaders both concurred that strong leadership is really what is needed to steer the process forward. More so, it is well accepted by the two interviewees that it is only through community engagement that the organizational change envisaged will turn out to be successful. Without community engagement, it is highly likely that the challenges discussed may continue to hold back the institutions much needed organizational change (Burke & Noumair, 2015). It is also widely accepted among the two interviewees that technology plays a significant role towards the organizational development of the Churchland Elementary School. Online learning communities, gaming environments as well as media based learning resources are seen as the new future in the school’s technology agenda.
Fundamental Elements of the Organization
For the progressive advancement and growth of the institution there is the need to diagnose its organizational development agenda (Gallos, 2006). To enable an apt diagnostic process, there is the need to focus on some key indicators within Churchland Elementary School. The diagnostic process is in essence a collaborative endeavor among all organizational members and the organizational development project manager or consultant (Cummings & Worley, 2011); (Pigg, 2014). This involves the collection of pertinent data, subsequent analysis of such data and finally, forming conclusions to guide action planning as well as interventions.
For this particular case, diagnosis will be implemented through the open systems model which looks at the organization’s environment, inputs into the organization, transformations effected on inputs and the eventual output therein (Cummings & Worley, 2011). It is, however, dependent on feedback from its internal and external environments (Burke & Noumair, 2015). The inputs into the Churchland Elementary School can be broadly described as including people, energy and information. People in this regard involve the students, and school staff (Cummings & Worley, 2011). The energy impeded on the organizational development of the institution comes from the human resource herein. The information as an input is sourced from the feedback system (Cummings & Worley, 2011). The transformations witnessed in the institution involve the social components through which students acquire learning instruction and the technological component that supports learning delivery execution. The outputs in this case are students with the desired health in terms of body and mind towards the progressive development of the community (Cummings & Worley, 2011). The environment includes the community that the school endeavors to serve.
Image 1. A graphic representation of an organizational diagnostic model. (Retrieved from Cummings & Worley, 2011).
The organizational design components that effectively allow for the transformation of inputs towards generating the desired outputs include; the organizational strategy, technology, structure, measurement systems and human resource (Cummings & Worley, 2011); (Gallos, 2006). The organizational development strategy in this particular case is towards greater ethnic diversity and inclusivity which is highly dependent on yet another critical transformative organizational design component, the organization’s culture (Cummings & Worley, 2011). The outputs that tell whether or not the organizational development plan is progressing as envisaged include productivity from the human resource function, organizational performance as depicted by the school’s performance and stakeholder satisfaction as exhibited by parents and by extension the entire school community (Cummings & Worley, 2011).
Data, Synthesis, Evaluation, and Recommendations
Data and Synthesis
The information received concerning the school’s boundaries is that Portsmouth County is the main community served by Churchland Elementary School (SchoolDigger, 2015). The 369 students enrolled from the school come from about 29% of the community’s populace (SchoolDigger, 2015). About 29% of the community population is children. The populations’ relationship statuses are diverse though married couples make up the largest proportion of the Portsmouth community standing at slightly above half the county’s population (SchoolDigger, 2015). It is, however, important to note that the population of single parents is also relatively high with more than a third of the populace being single mothers and single fathers (SchoolDigger, 2015).
Founded on the fact that the school’s organizational development agenda is geared towards greater multiethnic diversity and inclusion, data collected relative to the school’s student populace was deemed as a key indicator as to how the project was evolving (SchoolDigger, 2015). The data provides that the school’s student population exhibits that the institution is on the right course with regard to its organizational development agenda. The white student population stands at about 55% (SchoolDigger, 2015). The rest of the population includes children from other ethnic minority backgrounds. These include the African Americans student populace which makes up for the largest percentage of ethnic minorities in the school (SchoolDigger, 2015). Other ethnic minorities in the school include Hispanic, Asian and American Indian making up for slightly more than 4% of the student population.
Data from the local community indicates that the population of white school age children stands at 46.3% of the community which Churchland Elementary School seeks to serve (SchoolDigger, 2015). The African American population stands at slightly above 45% while the Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Pacific Islander and for those with 2 or more ethnic backgrounds makes up just above 8% of the community’s populace (SchoolDigger, 2015).
The learning institution has a current student population of 836 students in grades KG-6 (Portsmouth Public School, 2015). In 2015, the school was ranked 1st among elementary schools in the Portsmouth City District and 97th in the Virginia school districts rankings (SchoolDigger, 2015). As such, the institution strives to progress forward as a healthy organization (Gallos, 2006). This is evident in the huge improvement the school exhibited with its 2015 ranking as compared to 2014 (SchoolDigger, 2015). For instance, the school’s average standard score in 2014 stood at 51.16 and was ranked 580th among all public schools in the state of Virginia. In 2015, however, the school showed a marked improvement in performance ranking 316th among other Virginia elementary schools with an average score of 68.75 (SchoolDigger, 2015).
From the data collected as well as from the synthesis applied thereafter, the school is making good headway towards achieving the objectives of the multiethnic diversity and inclusivity strategy. The aspect of inclusivity is, however, not comprehensively reflected in the data collected (SchoolDigger, 2015). This is in relation to the differences in family unit systems such as married couples, single parents and divorcees. Such data is not accessible within the school due to the intrusive nature of the subject matter (SchoolDigger, 2015). After the data collection and synthesis processes, it is evident that multiethnic diversity in the school is within what can translate to a healthy organization (Gallos, 2006). For instance, the percentage of African American population at the institution exceeds the percentage of the same ethnic group at the community level.
This outcome indicates that the multiethnic diversity among the student population within Churchland Elementary School translates to a healthy organization (SchoolDigger, 2015). The school’s good student performance also indicates that its organizational culture positively embraces the commendable increase of an ethnically diverse population. As much as this particular project did not place much emphasis on the degree of multiethnic diversity among its staff, the favorable overall performance indicates a positive attitude towards the strategy (SchoolDigger, 2015). From an interview with a PTA member who is also a parent whose child is at the institution, the staffs are very kind and more so, helpful to the children (SchoolDigger, 2015). The interviewee underscored the fact that such sentiments are embraced by a great percentage of the parents associated with the school.
The contemporary US society is one that is considered as being rich relative to its multiethnic diversity. As provided for in the evolutionary theory, the process of enabling a favorable environment to incorporate and positively nature multiethnic diversity within social institutions such as schools has been arduous. The strong leadership guided by the organization’s equally robust organizational culture has played a significant role towards the desired achievement of the adopted strategy (Cummings & Worley, 2011). The current school principal has exhibited admirable leadership attributes that seem to offer feedback from the community environment that the institution positively embraces ethnic diversity.
In line with the evolutionary theory, it is recommended that the school conduct a multi ethnic staff audit to enable for a comprehensive diagnosis of the analysis of the same. The theory underscores that it takes time for organizations to change some inherent aspects of an institution’s culture. However, the multiethnic diversity and inclusivity strategy needs to be realized within the set timeframe (Cummings & Worley, 2011). It is therefore recommended that greater efforts be geared towards this end. This can be realized through better overall student performance not only in academics but in extra curriculum activities as well.
Given that the evolutionary theory suggests that as an organism within the environment changes in an effort to efficiently and effectively interact with the external environment, a faster learning cycle has to be adopted. The school has been able to relate positively with the feedback gained from the external as well as internal environments (Cummings & Worley, 2011). The leader on the other hand has been able to ensure that all players in its organizational structure critically understand the need to ensure vision and mission promote the desired organizational development outcomes (Gallos, 2006). To propel the implementation of the adopted strategy further forward, it is important to set benchmarks every time a positive appraisal is realized. This will ensure that the overall success of the strategy towards organizational development will be ensured comprehensively and within the set timeframe
As provided for in this paper, Churchland Elementary School can be rightly considered as a healthy organization. It has been able to acquire inputs from its environment, and positively transform them into desirable outputs. One can attribute this to an organizational culture, professional ethics among staffs and strong leadership that seeks to propel the institution towards attaining excellence. Indeed, the vision and mission statements seek to strive for excellence and under the current principals leadership vision has been able to implement a strategy that few other learning institutions in Virginia State have been able successfully implement. As provided for in the evolutionary theory, it takes time to realize the positive outcomes of any proposed change as it is in essence a continuous process. All in all, the school has exhibited good results in all fronts and is expected to achieve all its objectives and goals concerning the strategy satisfactorily towards the betterment of the students and community at large.
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