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How do a school and a community interact? This question guided this dissertation examining one rural school and community. The purpose of this case study was to investigate the relationship between the rural Marceline R-V School District (a K-12 school system) and its community, Marceline, Missouri.
The framework for this study included the time-honored theories of Ferdinand Tonnies, with the contemporary work of Joyce Epstein and Mavis Sanders. With structure provided by Bolman and Deal, this document examined both the school and community.
This study included artifacts and documents of both the community and school. Documents and artifacts included yearbooks, newspaper articles (school and community), photographs, school board and city council minutes, and other city and state records. In addition, twenty-three residents were interviewed. The interviewees fell into two distinct tiers. In tier-one, interviewees were identified because of a leadership role or job they held in either the community or school district: school administrators, school board members, businesses owners, church officials, the city manager, and city council members. Upon conclusion of the first-tier interview, participants were asked to identify additional school and/or community leaders who may or may not hold titles. These
interviewees were identified as second-tier interviewees. Those second-tier participants were asked virtually the same questions asked of tier-one participants.
Additionally, in order to more fully analyze the school and community using the theories of the aforementioned sociologists and researchers, I created a parent-category, sub-category system for coding all elements of the research. The categories were community-centered, family-centered, school-centered, student-centered, gesellschaft (society), and gemeinschaft (community).
Analysis of the data revealed four themes: consolidation, desegregation, minorities, and parochial education. Beyond the basic premise that one would not exist without the other, the influence of the town‘s heritage and mutual history was undeniable. Marceline, the school, decided how it would react to state-driven educational mandates because of the community. The school shaped the community by offering a means of achieving gesellschaft (society) through gemeinschaft (community).