Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



LC Subjects

Educational leadership; Management of change; Organizational change; School principals


School principals are moved from one school to another because of retirements, resignations, or school divisions’ rotation policies. Leadership transitions can be challenging for the principal and the school community given that the leaders have little to no knowledge of the new school, its culture, and its staff and no established relationships. Another challenge with principal turnover is its impact on student outcomes.

The main objective of this mixed-methods research study was to identify the factors that served to support transition success for veteran school principals. Using purposive sampling, a survey was completed by principals from a large urban school division (N = 53). There were three sections of the survey instrument: (1) the Leader Efficacy Questionnaire (LEQ) developed by Hannah and Avolio (2013), (2) questions on the principals’ transition experience, and (3) questions about principals’ professional learning experiences that supported them during the transition and also served to build their competence and confidence as principals. After the survey, using criterion sampling, semistructured interviews were conducted with eight school principals. The data were coded and grouped into three themes: (a) self-leading, (b) leading others, and (c) balcony view.

The findings of this research study suggest that peer support networks are essential components of support for principals. Given its importance, the creation of support systems should not be left completely up to the individual or to chance. Senior administrators need to consider ways of engaging principals in meaningful network opportunities and providing one-to-one support. The findings also revealed ways that principals managed their school transitions successfully. The most prevalent factors included understanding the school’s history, engaging in open and clear communication, being in service to the community, and leveraging staff strengths.


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