Pathways to the Principalship: Leadership of Public-School Principals with Counseling Backgrounds




Orantes, Hugo Rene

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The educational field has completely been turned around and transformed from its traditional ways due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The pandemic has had far-reaching impacts throughout the world and has resulted in loss of close family members, friends, and disrupted the way hospitals, churches, and schools operate (Wyse et al., 2020). This has brought about new challenges for our students, learning community and for campus leaders. This tremendous pressure has led leaders with a counseling background to adapt and utilize their leadership and counseling skills in order to better meet the social and emotional needs of their students. Long gone are the days of principals as simply managerial workers. Now principals need to be well equipped with social and emotional skills to meet the diverse needs of their campus. Looman (2003) states, "a reflective leader must sharpen their emotional intelligence" and uses cognition and emotions to effectively perform their roles (pg. 217). As the world around us continues to change, we must also adapt our leadership skills and styles to best support the needs of all students and help them succeed. The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of former school counselors, who now serve or served as public school principals and enact social justice leadership and care for all students. This study utilized in-depth interviews (Seidman, 2019) to foster rich descriptions of their lived experiences. Through this process of in-depth exploration and discovery, insights came about for their motivation to change careers from school counselor to public school principal. A qualitative research design was utilized for this study. The guiding research question for this case study was: How are former school counselors enacting social justice and care as school principals? A supporting question used was: How are school principals utilizing their previous counseling training/background to assist in leading their campus? The aim of these questions were to solicit in-depth responses regarding their educational trajectories, experiences, and current leadership qualities that are helping them meet the needs of their students and the community they serve.


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Counseling skill, Ethic of Care, Former counselor, Leadership, Principal, Social Justice



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies