Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




refugee, intercultural competence, culturally sustaining pedagogy, transformative leadership, adaptive leadership


In a period of globalization and forced migration, refugee numbers are increasing exponentially, and unprepared school systems embrace students as families settle in unfamiliar territory. This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) explores the experiences of a school team at Calluna Elementary School (CES, a pseudonym) in Southern Ontario, where staff strive to build their collective intercultural capacity in order to best serve an influx of newcomers who have survived war and significant loss. The Problem of Practice (PoP) involves addressing staff struggles with trauma-informed pedagogy, early literacy instruction, and maintaining an asset-focused perspective, through a refugee critical race theory lens. To inspire radical change in the current organization, and to flex with the rapidly changing demographics of the school community, the principal adopts both a transformative and adaptive leadership approach. While the organization evolves and oppressive programs and practices are identified and addressed, a change plan and communication plan are applied. Implementing formal professional learning sessions for staff through a 4C framework will be instrumental in developing culturally sustaining practices which adequately provide essential supports for refugee students. Training for the school team which focuses on developing intercultural competence will improve the ability of the system to address the unique challenges encountered. This morally imperative work is applicable to school contexts around the world where refugees are accepted and barriers are faced when supporting effective settlement for newcomers.