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Ordinary Theologies

Religio-spirituality and the Leadership of Black Female Principals

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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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Chapter 5 Spirit-led: The Dialogic of Womanist Theology and Educational Leadership

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Chapter 5

Spirit-led: The Dialogic of Womanist Theology and Educational Leadership

A good way to understand people is to study their religion, for religion is addressed to that most sacred schedule of values around which the expression and the meaning of life tends to coalesce.

(Lincoln & Mamiya, 1990, p. xi)

When one is said to be guided by God, she is said to be led by the Spirit (Houchins, 1988). The women discussed in this book led with their spirituality and were led by their spirituality. They clearly exhibited that leadership and religio-spirituality intersected in a way that significantly impacted the ways they thought about and enacted the principalship. When I initially began thinking about conducting this research, I kept thinking, “Can religion and spirituality have anything to offer in educational leadership and vice versa?” Can the religio-spiritual process have anything to offer to the literature in a way that sheds more light on the process of leadership? This research has taken spirituality from more of a vague concept and offered insights into the ways that religion frames spirituality for some individuals. Rather than over-reminding that spirituality in educational leadership is not always identical to religion (Starratt, 2005c), this research tends to the ways in which it is. The womanist theological tenets of reciprocity and critical engagement espouse the idea of seemingly competing ideas being in communication with one another. The separation of church and state has presented...

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