Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Education

Committee Chair

Nystrand, Raphael O.


School superintendents--United States; School management and organization--United States; School principals--United States; Leadership--United States; Ethics--United States; Teaching


The need for moral leadership in schools compels us to seek new models for school leadership. This self-study captures the actual experience of a beginning principal using a reflective practitioner methodology in an effort to explore the "principal as minister" metaphor. The purpose of the study is to discover the similarities and differences between the role of a principal and a minister in a particular school setting and in the context of one principal's experience. Stories and vignettes of the first year and a half of the principalship were written using the participant observer lens. Reflection on the applicability and use of the "principal as minister" are a key focus of the study. The purpose of the study was two-fold: to explore the fit between the role of the principal and the minister and to study how leadership practice of one principal was affected by reflection on the "principal as minister" metaphor. Findings identify similarities between the role of a principal and a minister. Specifically, both share the following four functions: Pastoral, Prophetic, Priestly, and Pedagogic. In addition, sixteen skill dimensions are demonstrated: enabling others, developing trust, affirming others, sharing self, healing others, managing conflict, establishing vision, eliciting faith, admonishing others, building community, teaching others, modeling best practice, giving blessings, establishing ritual, and presiding and celebrating. Findings indicate that the use of the "principal as minister" metaphor provided a dynamic and interrelated "talkback" system for studying leadership practice in the participant-observer's experience. The metaphor was most often evoked in situations that invited competing agendas. The metaphor served both as a purpose and as a method in guiding leadership practice. Findings also reveal that reflection provided a consistent focus and enhanced awareness of the principal's role. Implications of the study for leadership theory and staff development are discussed.