Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership P-12

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Robert Knoeppel

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Boyer

Committee Member

Dr. Hans Klar

Committee Member

Dr. Lagarrett King

Committee Member

Dr. Corliss Brown-Thompson


The purpose of this qualitative, multi-site, multi-case study was to examine how early college high school principals promote the success of the first generation, students of color and low-income students they serve. The study examined three early college high school principals in North Carolina through two lenses: the traditional role of principals and a conceptual framework of democratic, socially just, culturally responsive leaders. The study used semi-structured interview and focus groups as the primary data sources. Additional data sources included documents, state databases and observations. The research questions guiding the study were:

  1. How do early college high school principals promote the success of the first generation, lower-income students and students of color?

  2. How do early college high school principals demonstrate the qualities and characteristics of democratic, socially just and culturally responsive leaders?

Six broad themes and thirteen subthemes emerged from the data. The themes and subthemes that emerged were Access and Equity (target student population, application process and special education and ESL students); Academics (retention rate, standardized Tests, “The 5th year” and graduation rates/degrees Earned); Culture and Climate (safety/student discipline and school culture and climate; Managing the Organization (finances, staffing, instruction, and vision and mission); Relationships (outside the school and inside the school) and Identity.

The findings were interpreted and situated in the context of the extant literature and the democratic/socially just/culturally responsive leadership conceptual framework. Implications for policy and practice, study limitations, recommendations for future study and the conclusion were also presented.



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