Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Dr. Marie Cianca

Second Supervisor

Dr. Linda McGinley


Through Kouzes and Posner’s transformational leadership framework, this study examined the perceived leadership practices of secondary school principals in New York State’s high-achieving, high-needs rural schools. New York State’s rural principals face a variety of challenges to meet students’ needs. Rural principals are often members of smaller leadership teams, and assume varying leadership responsibilities with fewer opportunities to collaborate with peers. The peer-reviewed literature focusing on principal leadership practices is extensive but lacks a focus on high-needs, rural secondary schools. The study was qualitative, as data were collected using semistructured interviews of six rural secondary school principals. Each principal in the study led a high-needs rural school that the New York State Education Department awarded Recognition School status. Using Kouzes and Posner’s (2017) five transformational leadership practices as a framework, the study explored the perceived leadership practices as outlined by the participants during the interviews. Data analysis identified commonalities among the participants’ responses. These similarities resulted in three findings. First, rural secondary school principals that inspire a shared vision focused on student needs are able to cultivate student success. Second, the ability of rural principals to challenge the process is paramount when addressing difficulties in rural school settings. Third, meeting student needs takes an educational community that must be nurtured, developed, and empowered. The study affirmed that secondary school principals in high-needs rural schools can positively impact organizations by demonstrating transformational leadership.

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