Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

C. Michael Robinson, Ed.D.

Second Supervisor

Tanya Eastman, Ed.D.


The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological research design was to explore leadership responses in addressing childhood trauma. The participants were six elementary school principals from upstate New York, who shared the types of incidences of childhood trauma within their schools. Additionally, the leaders discussed how they prepared for and responded to students who experienced trauma. The leaders articulated the barriers or challenges within their schools in developing and improving the schools’ responses to supporting their students through semi-structured interviews. The transcriptions were analyzed using in vivo coding to identify common themes and to develop a model for leaders to access. The outcomes of this study included the three categories based on the research questions: (a) incidences, (b) preparation and response, and (c) barriers and challenges. Within these categories were seven themes that included: (a) scope and confirmation, (b) acceleration, (c) safe haven, (d) anticipation, (e) dependence, (f) system inconsistency, and (g) supportive and supported. Each theme had one or more subthemes analyzing the participants’ responses relating to the three research questions. In this research study, the challenges and impact of a student who experienced childhood trauma influenced the leader’s objectives. Therefore, the findings of this study include the connection between incidences, preparation and response, barriers and challenges, and educating the whole child. The multifaceted objectives placed upon elementary school principals funnel into the importance of being a whole child leader.

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