A Phenomenological Study of Alternative Education School Leader Servant Leadership Characteristics in Texas

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Alternative education schools provide marginalized students a different method of achieving success in school. The problem facing alternative education schools of choice (AESOC) in Texas was the lack of defined servant leadership characteristics and how those characteristics further the mission of AESOC. Studies have linked servant leadership characteristics with effective alternative school practices in general. The purpose of the phenomenological study was to explore what servant leadership characteristics are revealed in the lived experiences of exemplary leaders of AESOC in Texas and how those characteristics advance the mission of AESOC. Research identifying characteristics of effective AESOC leaders was lacking. Servant leadership and social learning theory provide the theoretical framework. Research Question 1 explored What servant leader characteristics are exhibited by AESOC leaders’ lived experiences in Texas. The second research question looked at how servant leadership characteristics exhibited by AESOC leaders’ lived experiences advance the mission of AESOC. Social learning factors improve student success in schools of choice. Semi-structured interviews, conducted through teleconferencing, explored the lived experiences of 20 exemplary alternative education leaders in Texas. Relationships were the overarching theme influencing themes of mission and vision, leadership styles, accountability, and respect. Exemplary AESOC leaders exhibit characteristics comparable to servant leadership. These characteristics further the mission of the AESOC. Further research is needed to determine if leaders other than AESOC leaders exhibit servant leader characteristics.