A study of what high school principals need from their superintendents

Howard, Stephanie D.
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The purpose of this multi-case study was to explore the mutual needs and expectations of West Texas high school principals and their superintendents. In addition, the study examines ways in which these principals interact with and perceive their relationships with and support from their superintendents. Concepts from West and Derrington's (2009) Leadership Teaming was used to evaluate the relationship between the superintendent and principal. For the purpose of this study, high schools were classified by the University Interscholastic League (UIL). This research was conducted using a qualitative research design through a multi-case study. The participants consisted of five West Texas high school principals and their superintendents. Five principals, representing three school districts, and their superintendents were selected. Data were collected using interviews, participant observations, and written documents. In this study, stories from the participants tells us about themselves, their principalship, and their working relationship with their superintendents. After the initial interview with the principal participants, the researcher interviewed the superintendent. The principal and superintendent were then observed in a principal-superintendent meeting. Two protocols were used to gather insight and information relevant to the research questions. An observation protocol was used to categorize the observations into themes related to the researcher's conceptual framework. The researcher found that while the role of a high school principal is very demanding, the principals love what they do. The superintendents in this study realize the importance and significance of the principal's role at their high schools. They explained that is the most significant and most high profile position in their districts. Each of the principals found ways to deal with the challenges of the high school principalship. It was evident that principals need the opportunity to provide input, collaborate on topics before decisions are made, and they need for the superintendent to value their work, their expertise, and their input. Principals were quick to identify what they need from their superintendents. The most common answer was related to professional courtesy. They described professional courtesy as having the opportunity to provide input, for the superintendent to value their input and consider their knowledge, expertise, and on the ground experience. The next thing they explained they needed from their superintendents is a superintendent who will listen to them. They want to work for someone who values their opinions, listens to their input, and takes the appropriate steps to supporting that input when appropriate. In addition, it became evident throughout the research that trust was essential to the principal-superintendent relationship. When a positive demeanor was held by the superintendent, the principals exhibited a more positive approach and outlook on the challenges of the position.

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High school principals, leadership teams, Principal-superintendent relationship, Superintendent leadership
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies