Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

R. Martin Reardon


This case study examined the leadership practices of one middle school principal in a low-performing rural school in Virginia. The experienced principal participant was in his first year of leadership at the school; he had led other low-performing schools to improved achievement that resulted in earning state accreditation as well as meeting federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) student proficiency targets. The focus school had failed to meet AYP for five consecutive years. The qualitative research design for this study included in-depth, semi-structured interviews with teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, and the principal’s supervisor; a total of 18 interviews were conducted. Throughout the course of the interviews, the principal’s leadership was conceptualized using the framework of the six core components and six key process that form the basis for the Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education ((VAL-ED) Murphy et al., 2007). The findings that emerged concerning rural school challenges and organizational change affirmed well-supported assertions in the literature. Participants provided a well-conceptualized and expansively defined profile of the principal’s strengths and areas for growth through the lens of the Murphy et al. (2007) framework for learning-centered leadership.


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Is Part Of

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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

January 2011