Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Waynne B. James, Ed.D.

Co-Major Professor

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Locander, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William H. Young, Ed.D.


administration, complexity, mentoring, principalship, school leadership


The purpose of this study was to investigate the current perceptions of high school

principals regarding their perceived roles, professional development experiences that

impacted their careers, and the challenges and frustrations they face when enacting their

roles as high school leaders.

This qualitative study investigated perceptions of high school principals and

addressed three research questions: (1) What are the perceptions of high school principals

regarding their role as school leaders? (2) What professional development experiences do

high school principals report are most important in impacting their careers? (3) What do

high school principals perceive are their greatest challenges and frustrations?

Three in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with each of eight high

school principals. The results were based on analysis by the researcher and the two

expert panels. The high school principals perceived that they had a tremendous number

of roles and responsibilities within their positions.

The roles and responsibilities that were identified with the greatest importance

were: providing a safe learning environment, ensuring quality teachers and quality

instruction, high accountability expectations for all and mandates, and leadership within

the school and system. Professional development opportunities and personalized support

systems were perceived to be vital to the success of the high school principal.

Principals in the study reported that both formal and informal professional

development experiences were beneficial for their improvement as school leaders. The

principals perceived that when they created relationships with mentors and established

strong networks, they improved the likelihood of sustained support and success.

High school principals perceived the greatest challenges were management of

time, balancing leadership and management of the school, and navigating the legislative

mandates and accountability requirements.

High school principals perceived the greatest frustrations were issues related to

time and legislative mandates dictated to them by the local, state, and federal systems.

They faced constant pressures that could be directly tied to student achievement and

accountability measures. High school principals need to be prepared to assume various

roles. Further research may determine if roles and challenges identified by the eight

participants mirror other states’ results.