The high school as community: A case study of a suburban high school

Mathew Mark Mandery, Fordham University


The high school as community seeks to develop both human capital and social capital. Human capital is created in individuals when they acquire skills and knowledge while social capital exists in the relationships among individuals. High schools have traditionally focused upon the development of human capital in its students. Research has identified the importance of social capital and its relation to student high school completion.^ The purpose of this case study was to examine the concept of the high school as community through the students' and teachers' perspectives in a small, middle class suburban high school in which an attempt was being made to build a sense of community to develop shared values. The focus of the study was upon the relationship of the school as community and the school's culture, program, and organizational structure rather than upon the change process itself.^ A single case embedded methodological design was utilized. The unit of analysis was the school. The class of 1990, the seniors, was the target group of the study since they were the one class that had been in the school for the entire time that the effort to build a sense of community had been in effect. A survey, student interviews, teacher interviews, documents, and participant observations were used to collect data.^ Analysis of the data led to the conclusions that the concept of community is very effective in conveying to students the vision of a school where students and teachers appreciate and listen to one another and work towards common goals. The data indicated that developing a culture of concern and caring, a sense of pride and ownership of the school, and strong student-teacher relationships were key elements to build community. The school's small size, a faculty workroom, the late start of the school day, faculty discussion groups, and extended teacher roles were aspects of the school's organizational structure found to support community. Collective school events were the most effective aspect of the school's program that created social capital. Characteristics of courses in which there was a sense of community were also identified. ^

Subject Area

Educational administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Mandery, Mathew Mark, "The high school as community: A case study of a suburban high school" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9109263.