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Building bridges between knowledge and practice: A university-school district leadership preparation program partnership

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to provide a Year 1 account of a partnership between a university and rural school district focusing specifically on how the project has helped to bridge the theory to practice divide and strengthen university-district ties. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A design-based research paradigm was utilized to investigate how creating more authentic and contextually relevant university-school partnerships and embedding leadership preparation in the context of practice may help build stronger bridges between theory and practice. Findings ‐ The findings highlight that holistic approaches to leadership preparation, developing relationships, coordinating meaningful professional development, realism in design and experiences, and introspection are all ways that cohort members, as well as other district personnel, have been able to build stronger bridges between theory and practice. Practical implications ‐ The findings can assist universities and districts in developing and supporting partnerships that contribute to relevant, practical, and meaningful leadership preparation. Originality/value ‐ The authors' analysis highlights that aspiring leadership students who do not engage in meaningful and contextually relevant activities will not be able to bridge the theory to practice gap when working in the actual leadership field. Authentic experiences provide realistic views and understandings of the requirements, challenges, and rewards of educational leadership positions.
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Keywords: Leadership; Partnership; Rural areas; Schools; United States of America; Universities

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 10, 2011

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