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Sarah W. Nelson, Ph.D.

Sarah Nelson
Education and Community Administration
Area of Focus/Research
Culturally Responsive Leadership, International Principal Preparation, Educator Beliefs, Educational Equity, Educational Accountability

(512) 245-8501
(512) 245-8872
601 University Drive
Academic Services Building South (ASBS) 312
San Marcos, TX 78666
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Sarah W. Nelson, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Education and Community Leadership at Texas State University. Dr. Nelson teaches in the Education Ph.D. and the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership programs. She also serves as a program coordinator for the Educational and Community Leadership program. A former teacher, curriculum specialist, and school principal, she earned her doctorate in Public School Executive Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests center on policies and practices related to educational equity. Recent research projects include examining educator beliefs about students of diverse backgrounds, documenting the effects of student protests for educational equity in Chile, and exploring the experiences of novice principals. Dr. Nelson serves on the editorial board of prominent journals including Education Administration Quarterly and the International Journal for Leadership in Education. Dr. Nelson works with schools in the local central Texas region as well as internationally with schools in several different countries. Dr. Nelson co-authors a column on developing cultural proficiency for the Journal of Staff Development. She provides professional development in culturally responsive teaching, learning, and leadership. She has obtained over $6.5 million in grant funding and served as Director for a research project related to improving science teaching, learning, and leadership for English language learners.

Selected Publications

Book Chapters

Nelson, S.W., & Aguilar, I. (2011). Leadership based in love of people and place. In M. Cowie (Ed.), New primary leaders. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Slater, C.L., McGhee, M.W., Nelson, S.W., & Meno, L. (2011). Lessons learned: The promise and possibility of educational accountability in the United States. In C.F. Webber, & J. Lupart (Eds.), Leading student assessment. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Nelson, S.W. (2008). Becoming a critical friend. In S.P. Gordon (Ed.), Collaborative action research (pp. 26-45). New York: Teacher’s College Press.

Nelson, S. W. (2008). Investigating the tension between good teaching and the research agenda: An American perspective. In S. Scott, & K. C. Dixon (Eds.), The 21st century, globalised university: Trends and development in teaching and learning (pp. 143-168). Perth, Western Australia: Black Swan.

Journal Articles

Nelson, S. W., Guerra, P. L., & Henry, G. H. (2011). A connection between moral imperative and women’s leadership? Administrative Issues Journal: Education, Practice and Research, 1(1), 98-106.

Guerra, P. L., & Nelson, S.W. (2010) What culturally responsive educators can do to prepare high school students, parents for college. Journal of Staff Development, 31(5), 61-2.

Nelson, S.W. (2009). Experience matters in principal preparation. Journal of Leadership Studies, 3(2), 58-61.

Guerra, P.L. & Nelson, S.W. (2009). Changing professional practice requires changing beliefs. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(5), 354-59.

Nelson, S.W., De la Colina, M. G., & Boone, M. D. (2008). Lifeworld or systemsworld: What guides novice principals? Journal of Educational Administration, 46(6), 690-701.

Waite, D., Nelson, S. W., & Guajardo, M. (2007). Teaching and leadership for social justice and social responsibility: Home is where the struggle starts. Journal of Educational Administration and Foundations, 18 (1&2), 200-223.

Slater, C. L., Boone, M., Nelson, S. W., De La Colina, M, Garcia, J. M. (2007). El escalafón y el doble turno: An international perspective on school director preparation. Journal of Educational Research and Policy Studies, 6(2), 60-90.

Nelson, S. W., McGhee, M. W., Meno, L., & Slater, C. L. (2007). Fulfilling the promise of educational accountability: A unique perspective. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(9), 702-709.


To read Dr. Nelson's columns on developing cultural proficiency, please visit the Journal of Staff Development website.


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