Sarah KerinsFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Lucinda S. Spaulding


Leadership, School Administration, Principalship, Catholic Education, Principal Attrition, Principal Retention


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the job-related experiences of early career Catholic elementary school principals in the Mideastern region of the United States. Alderfer’s (1969) existence, relatedness, and growth theory provides a foundation to answer the central research question: How do early career Catholic elementary school principals in the Mideastern region of the United States describe their job-related experiences? Participants were purposefully selected from a population of Catholic elementary school principals employed within the Mideastern region of the United States who had completed one but not more than five years of service. Using a transcendental phenomenological research design, data was collected from an introductory survey, semi-structured interviews, two focus groups, and a participant designed plan for professional development. The findings indicated Catholic elementary principals in their early career were motivated by a calling to a vocation in Catholic school leadership as well as the ability to develop and implement a vision for their school. Principals were challenged by limited resources, balancing the demands of the position, and navigating relationships. Finally, principals believed they were supported by diocesan administrators in the areas of human resources and student issues, particularly if the concerns had legal implications. Principals identified six key areas of need: teacher supervision, curriculum decisions, leveraging resources, professional development, communication and diocesan presence. Applications of the research will hopefully lead to improved preparation, induction programs, and support protocols for Catholic elementary school principals.