Moving Towards Transformative Student Voice in Community Schools
Julissa Ventura

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Marquette University

Primary Discipline

Educational Policy
As the community school model is adopted by more school districts, particularly urban school districts, questions arise about how community schools are enacting their mission to be a more democratic and community-centered education reform. One of the key community school strategies is shared leadership, which researchers have found is an important structure that contributes to improved academic outcomes seen so far in community schools (Oakes, et al., 2017). Through an ethnographic case study approach with 3 focal schools in Wisconsin, this study explores shared leadership in relation to student voice and leadership. Specifically, the project examines how community schools can support youth in meaningfully contributing to the decision-making and transformational change in their schools. While collaboration with community partners and families has been part of the community schools research, less attention has been given to the role that students can play in advancing the goals of community schools. Thus, this study aims to fill this gap by looking at how community schools can create spaces for transformative student voice through youth councils that are part of shared leadership at the K-5, K-8, and high school levels. Moreover, the findings from this project will make important contributions to the understanding of community school structures and practices that work against inequalities in our schools.  
About Julissa Ventura
Dr. Julissa Ventura is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Policy & Leadership in the College of Education at Marquette University. Her research sits at the intersections of community-based education, critical youth studies, and Latinx education. As a community-based researcher, Dr. Ventura creates collaborative research partnerships with those directly affected by the issues of educational inequality she wishes to study and address; these have included Latinx high school students, paraeducators, youth workers, and most recently community school coordinators. Through critical ethnography and participatory methods, Dr. Ventura?s research has examined how community educators create nourishing environments, inside and outside of schools, where youth can exercise their voice and become actors of change. Through collaboration with community educators and youth, she prioritizes relationship-building and centers community knowledge in co-creating spaces and practices of possibility for educational equity. In addition to her academic work, Dr. Ventura is actively involved in community and campus initiatives aimed at promoting social justice and equity for students of color. Dr. Ventura?s scholarship has been published in several academic journals including, Harvard Educational Review, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, and the Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE) Journal. Before her current position at Marquette University, she was a Chancellor?s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Colorado-Boulder, School of Education. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.A. in Educational Studies and Political Science at Swarthmore College.

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