Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Systems Improvement Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Reginald Wilkerson & Kristen Duncan

Committee Member

Roy Jones

Committee Member

Renee Jefferson


The role of a principal has changed since its inception. This dissertation explores the transformative role of school principals in the American educational landscape. With a keen focus on the historical and contemporary nuances, this study meticulously traced the evolution of the term “principal.” The underlying dynamics shaped by gender biases, stringent accountability measures, and the innate pressures enveloping the position are highlighted. An emphasis is placed on principals leading high-needs schools, revealing a spectrum of challenges, often intensified by socio-economic and infrastructural disparities. The study delved into these leaders’ diverse experiences and expectations through qualitative lenses of semi-structured interviews and surveys, offering insights into the resilience and adaptability demanded by such roles. The study underscores the imperative of equipping principals with the requisite skills and resources to lead with efficacy, especially in high-needs settings. Specifically, the study focused on three overarching research questions. First, how do superintendents or their designees develop and grow principals to lead high-needs schools? Second, how are superintendents or their designees currently developing and growing principals to lead high-needs schools? Third, how can we create a framework to grow and develop principals to lead high-needs schools? These findings of the study could contribute significantly to the discourse on educational leadership, emphasizing the pivotal role of principal development in shaping school culture, pedagogic outcomes, and overall student success through a learner-centric approach and ongoing and continuous professional development aligned to the principal and school needs. Principals need a cadence of coaching and mentoring through a community of practice.



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