Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Education and Organizational Leadership Development
Dr. Jane Clark Lindle
Dr. Hans W. Klar
Dr. Antonis Katsiyannis
Dr. George J. Petersen
Superintendents rise to the highest level of professional educational leadership within local communities. National statistics show increasing turnover in that district-level position. Superintendents come and go, which means their accomplishments fade in time. Superintendents rarely tell their stories of successes, failures, pressures, expectations, challenges, or any experiences within their highly visible role. This gap shows a lack of access to superintendents’ perspectives, and that gap may affect current and aspiring superintendents’ potential.
Given a two-century historical gap in the literature about educational leadership with few accounts from superintendents’ perspectives, my study described my journey through three superintendencies from 1993 to 2020. I used autoethnography, a reflective research method, which included systematic data analysis of a repository of personal artifacts combined with a confirmatory set of interviews from selected key informants involved with events connected to the artifacts or creating the artifacts. These interviews established veracity.
The purpose of this three-article dissertation was to close a gap in the literature from superintendents’ perspectives on daily operations coupled with reforms, laws, and social needs. I achieved this purpose in the production of three articles. The first article detailed instrument development to manage the primary data, my artifacts, and a data collection instrument for interviews with selected participants associated with the artifacts. In the second article, I explained my findings and presented a framework applicable to superintendents’ role in curriculum leadership. Finally, I wrote an article for practicing superintendents that captured the overarching mission of the superintendency, which is to use both position and voice to advocate for the communities they serve.
Superintendents’ silence about their experiences in their era of reforms, cultural changes, or daily confrontations and decisions leave a void in knowledge about this important role in public education. For this study, I used professional, self-identity as the lens for a reflexive autoethnography to fill that void. My work contributed a set of instruments for artifact analysis as well as presented a framework for superintendents’ curriculum leadership, and offered practical insights into the superintendents’ daily obligation as advocates for the communities they serve.
Bagley, Betty, "My Superintendent Journey From Educator to Activist: An Autoethnography Across Three Decades" (2023). All Dissertations. 3332.