Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Judith A. Ponticell, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William R. Black, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steve Permuth, Ph.D.


core values, Gifted Education school, Principal Leadership, School leadership


A school’s culture evolves over time and guides the ways in which those who interact within the school think, feel, and act. It is grounded in shared meanings, foundational beliefs, and value systems created by a school (Deal & Peterson, 2009). The principal plays a key and critical role in influencing and shaping school culture. The literature representing gifted education, school culture, and the role of the principal in shaping school culture is substantial; however, there is a gap in the literature that explores the role of the principal in gifted education and how the principal might shape the culture of a school within a gifted education environment. The purpose of the study was to explore the role a long-term principal played in shaping the culture of a school for gifted education over time. The study used a qualitative research design guided by narrative inquiry and framed through life history perspectives. The focus of the study was on a principal who guided a school for gifted education for 25 years. Transcripts of multiple, in-depth interviews were analyzed using a coding framework based on Bolman and Deal’s (2017) four frames of organizational analysis: structural, human resource, political, and symbolic. A narrative story of this principal’s leadership journey and the evolution of the culture of a school for gifted education was constructed, revealing beliefs, values, intentions, and actions, as well as challenges and tensions faced over time. The study raised questions for further research on leadership in specialized school environments, effects of increased gifted programming in schools, and implications for conducting studies that pursue deeply personal experiences and relationships.