Kate Syson

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Dr. Randy Hetherington

Second Advisor

Dr. Sally Hood

Third Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Smith

LC Subjects

Educational administration; Educational reform; Organization & management of education; School improvement programs; School management and organization;


Teachers today are stressed, fatigued, and burning out. The world of teaching is becoming more complex with the increased needs of students, extra workload demands, and lasting effects of a pandemic that turned the education world on its head. At the same time there is pressure and an expectation on school leaders to demonstrate a commitment to the health and well-being of all teachers. The purpose of this qualitative intrinsic case study was to investigate how rural elementary school teachers perceive their wellness is impacted by their school leaders. A questionnaire distributed to 53 elementary school teachers with at least 1 year of teaching experience and a follow-up focus group revealed three themes related to teacher flourishing (Cherkowski & Walker, 2018) and Dunn’s (1961) model of optimal wellness. The three themes include (a) being seen and valued, (b) human traits, and (c) school improvement and all articulate how teachers perceive they are best supported and what specific leadership strategies and conditions teachers feel impact their wellness and ability to flourish at work.


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