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Ordinary Theologies

Religio-spirituality and the Leadership of Black Female Principals


Arnold Noelle Witherspoon

Through narrative analysis, Ordinary Theologies highlights the intersectionality of gender, race, and religio-spirituality. It examines the relationship of past and current religio-spiritual leadership understandings that contest the status quo in U.S. schools. The historicity and analysis of gender and race contributes to reconceptualizing educational and leadership by emphasizing the voices of Black female leaders, voices that provide alternative understandings of schooling, stressing the importance of gendered and raced voices in administration, and questioning formulaic models of leadership and the research that reifies them.
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At issue for many educators is the intersection of the public and the professional self. This is not a useful distinction to make in many ways. Actually, it is a distinction that I myself find difficult. So much of what individuals value and believe impacts life and work and sometimes it is difficult to separate the two. We carry these beliefs and experiences with us, and our actions in varying situations and contexts are impacted by our private and public selves. These spaces often overlap, transcend, frame, and are used to negotiate the other, different selves.

Theories of “the everyday” can be described in “terms of the categories and social relations of the operative in everyday life” (Essed, 1991, p. 186). We are located physically and socially in the structure of life. For some, these structures are demarcated in all sorts of categories that serve as binaries. For others, these structures of being and doing traverse each other as complex practices. Structures such as personal and professional beliefs and practices are articulated as multiple meanings. In this same way, the idea of the “ordinary” (Mitchem, 2002) encompasses the expression of daily practice and issues of daily life. ← ix | x →

Ordinary Theologies explores the religious and spiritual in the leadership practices of Black female principals. Due to the paucity of research concerning Black female principals, this book aspires to add to the small body of that literature by adding the voices of African American women...

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