Welsh, Marilyn

Committee Member

Pugh, Kevin

Committee Member

Skousen, Jacob

Committee Member

Bergstrom, Cassendra


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; School of Psychological Sciences, Educational Psychology


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



217 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This autoethnographic research was a qualitative analysis of the process of starting a school and running it in the first year. While this research explained some of the process, it is not a guidebook for starting schools. Instead, this narrative was meant to tell about the experience in order to inspire others in education to try something new or different. The significance of the research came from the need for a change in education and the power of narrative to inspire change. Using autoethnography as my methodology and reflection and layered accounts to tell the narrative, I explored the following research questions: Q1 What can I learn from looking out into a culture and then critically looking inward into my own responses and actions? Q2 In what ways did I reconcile the conflict that exists between the standardization movement and what research says about learning, motivation, and the purpose of education? Q3 What can I learn from confronting the dilemmas that exist from my own historical experiences in education? From this exploration, I found that by looking out into culture and looking back in, being reflective in education is essential to growth. In my reflection I learned where my points of struggle were, and ultimately what I needed to do to improve as one of the co-founders of the school. I also learned that reconciling the conflict between the testing culture and research is incredibly difficult; writing the narrative has helped me better understand my own struggles with that reconciliation, but I have not yet learned what needs to be done to improve the system. Finally, I was able to identify the ways my own historical experiences in education have impacted my ability to change the very system I was involved in. While the desire to start a school was significant, overcoming decades of previous experience in the traditional system was more difficult than I expected. Implications of this study are found in the narrative telling of opening and running and school in its first year. The impact of this research is meant to inspire others in education, not through providing a roadmap of that change, but by offering the research base to inspire change, paired with the narrative of what changing education looks like in action.

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Copyright is held by the author.