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Building an Intentional School Culture

Building an Intentional School Culture
Excellence in Academics and Character

November 2007 | 160 pages | Corwin
In Building an Intentional School Culture, the authors propose the theory that if school leaders want to improve students' academic achievement and personal development, they need to create an 'intentional school culture' that builds excellence and character. Based on work created out of the Denver Public Schools, this resource shares the tools, strategies, and implementation plan for creating a strong school culture. The book provides a road map developed expressly for teacher trainings, principal workshops, staff meetings, and for district-level use.

About the Authors
1. Building an Intentional School Culture: Excellence in Academics and Character
The Importance of School Culture

Laneer Middle School: The Shaping of School Culture


2. The School Touchstone

3. The Four Mind-Set Model
Teachers and the Four Mind-Set Model

Students and the Four Mind-Set Model

Parents and the Four Mind-Set Model

Leadership and the Four Mind-Set Model

How to Use the Four Mind-Set Model


4. Introduction to the Eight Gateways
Teaching, Learning, and Assessment


Problem Solving

Expectations, Trust, and Accountability


Physical Environment

Markers, Rituals, and Transitions



5. Applying the Four Tools
Timeline: The First 36 Weeks (Year 1)

Timeline: The Second 36 Weeks (Year 2)

Pulling It All Together



"Many school leaders realize that a school's culture impacts everything, including the quality of relationships, staff morale, and student achievement, and most would like to know how to go about changing their school's culture in deep and lasting ways. The authors offer a powerful set of strategies for getting staff to think and work together to make their school the very best it can be. They have packed a wealth of practical wisdom into this small volume."

Tom Lickona, Director
Center for the 4th and 5th Rs

"Theoretically engaging, yet with clear and tested practical strategies for creating a positive school culture."

Alan L. Lockwood, Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison

"The authors bring a wealth of wisdom and practical experience to a fundamental and complex challenge for schools, namely, how to understand and shepherd a positive school culture. They offer impressive creativity and true practical tools and guidance in a concise form that can be invaluable to educators."

Marvin Berkowitz, Professor of Character Education
University of Missouri-St. Louis

"It is clear that a school’s culture has an enormous impact on how well students learn and on the values they develop. This book will help principals and staff shape the kind of school culture that students deserve."

Michael F. Bennet, Superintendent
Denver Public Schools, CO

"Charles Elbot and David Fulton get it! They get how dominant a force a school’s culture is in assisting—or thwarting—the development of learning and character. They get how extraordinarily difficult it is to change a culture. But, unlike most of us, they also get how possible it is to build a desirable school culture. I see this tidy little volume as the authors' first step in sharing their inventive 'lesson plans' from their successful work as builders of school culture. When we take these lessons learned to heart, we too will get it!"

Roland Barth, Education Consultant

"Charles Elbot and David Fulton have given educators a great gift. Here is a book that is strong in both theory and practical application that can help thoughtful educators create a school culture that is energizing and life giving for all concerned."

Parker J. Palmer, Author
The Courage to Teach and A Hidden Wholeness

"From explorations of decision-making processes to school character, chapters provide plenty of practical, applied ideas especially useful for college-level education collections."

The Bookwatch, February 2008
Midwest Book Review

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Charles F. Elbot

Charles F. Elbot was born in Europe and lived his first twenty years as part of three cultures—French, German and American. After graduating from Wesleyan University, he pursued his dream to see the world. With his backpack, sleeping bag and only a few hundred dollars, he traveled west, crossing Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe over a three year period. For funds, he worked on ships out of Bali and Singapore. These were three extraordinary years of being exposed to a rich array of the world’s cultures. Upon returning to the United States, he began teaching and then helped to found an alternative high school, September School, in... More About Author

David Vance Fulton

After graduating from Emory University, David Fulton taught high school and middle school for four years in Denver, Colorado. While in graduate school, he worked for the State Department of Education in Wisconsin, was a researcher for a National Science Foundation-funded school reform project, and supervised preservice social studies teachers. After completing his MA and PhD from University of Wisconsin-Madison in foundations of education, he lived in Northern Ireland as part of the International Forgiveness Institute. In 2003, he joined the Denver Public Schools Office of Character and School Culture. He is an adjunct faculty member at... More About Author

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