Agent of Social Capital: An Autoethnographic Study of a First Time Superintendent

Juan I Martinez, University of Texas at El Paso


This autoethnography analyzes how my experiences growing up on the Mexico-United States border influenced my superintendency. My particular focus was on my role as an agent of social capital for all students, including low-socioeconomic, at-risk and minority students. Collectively, over fifty percent of school-aged children in the United States are now from a minority ethnic group, of which Hispanic/Latino students constitute the vast majority. Research on academically successful minority students suggests that the social capital students receive from institutional agents at school expands opportunities for academic and lifelong success. Traditionally, however, institutional agents are teachers, counselors, and social workers, not superintendents. From the self-analysis of a practicing superintendent in a school district of approximately twelve thousand students, this study finds that the superintendent can be an agent of social capital that can support access to institutional and community resources, programs and services for students. Findings from this study challenges the traditional expectations of the superintendent and provides an alternative narrative to the view where the superintendent of schools is perceived as the distant figure, the big boss who is detached from the personal and educational experiences of students. The author attempts to illuminate a different image of the superintendent by narrating his personal and emotional interactions with students in an attempt to assist and advocate on their behalf. This dissertation will describe the superintendent’s key role as an empowering agent of social capital when willingly positioned in direct contact with and in the network of students.

Subject Area

Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Martinez, Juan I, "Agent of Social Capital: An Autoethnographic Study of a First Time Superintendent" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10686961.