11). The majority of contemporary schools functions under a continuous improvement model and is publicly measured by student achievement test results. The transformation of schools to function under more progressive models relies heavily on leveraging the expertise of the classroom teacher to extend beyond the traditional roles of individual classroom impact on students, and to include new roles in leading school reform efforts as part of a community of learners (Crowther et al, 2002).
Faculty involvement in decision making, through administrators sharing their power with the teaching staff, is a way to create collaborative culture and promote student success, especially in traditionally failing schools (Papalewis and Fortune, 2002). Empowerment void of professional community is not enough to bring about needed changes in our schools. Empowerment has "proven insufficient to change teachers relationships to their work in many settings" (Louis and Kruse, 1995, p. 13). Many teachers have leadership qualities that have not yet been recognized but may be a key to transforming schools and communities (Crowther et al., 2002). Documenting the perceptions and experiences of lead teachers who are involved as agents of change can reveal insights about the nature of teacher leadership, the roles that lead teachers assume, and the impact of their involvement in educational change. Careful and critical examination of teacher leadership is important since it is perceived as being critical to so many current school reform initiatives (Miller, et al., 2000).
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
Buckner and McDowelle (2000) reported that teachers are in a unique position to influence school reform efforts, however "teacher leadership is a concept that often lacks clear definition" (p. 35). As teachers play a greater role in the changes schools make, there is a need to better define and describe the concept of lead teacher and teacher leadership (Miller et al., 2000). Katzenmeyer and Moller (2001) stated, "teacher leadership is essential for the level of complex change schools face. In order to advance these roles for teachers, it is necessary for proponents to be clear about what teacher leadership looks like" (p. 4). Various reform efforts in modern education have recognized teachers' professional development as central to the reform efforts and have called for new ways of organizing and supporting teacher work.
Providing insight into the role of lead teachers as participants in a distributed leadership model by documenting their perceptions, describing implementation activities, and identifying and analyzing the impact of their roles in modern education will help to understand the perspectives of contemporary education and learning. This deeper understanding is needed to help guide reform efforts and provide for a more enlightened conversation regarding teacher leadership so that administrators can 'identify, develop, and support lead teachers in their schools" (Buckner & McDowelle, 2000, p. 36). Therefore, this paper aims to investigate the effect of the lead teacher in changing and improving school management, learners' performance and teaching practices.
In the current literature the term "lead teacher" (or "teacher leader") is ill defined. It is used to discuss teachers who unofficially engage in a leadership role in activities that