Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




rural schools, unified school identity, school culture, social capital, distributed leadership, authentic leadership


This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) addresses the fractured culture of School X resulting from an influx of staff and students from neighbouring communities following rural school closures. The problem of practice (PoP) presented explores ways that a unified school identity can be developed in a receiving school with a student population coming from three separate communities. Through the utilization of both distributed and authentic leadership, the methods that principals of rural schools can use to address this problem are explored. The focus of the problem when viewed through the social capital theory is that all stakeholders of the school have not been given the opportunity to build trusting relationships with one another so that a cohesive identity can be established (Liou & Chang, 2008). Kotter’s (2012) Eight-Stage Change Process model is used to guide the change implementation plan, which recommends putting into practice a relationship-based program requiring participation from students, staff members, and family members to repair the fractured school culture. The implications of the change plan are that the development of trusting relationships between staff members and families of students in the school will provide opportunities for all stakeholders to realize a sense of belonging in the school, contributing to higher levels of social capital and a more cohesive school culture (Deal & Peterson, 2016). This will be of interest to leaders of rural schools serving families in multiple geographical communities, as well as schools receiving students and staff members from neighbouring communities following permanent school closures.