Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Shannon Cleverley-Thompson, Ed.D.

Second Supervisor

Terrance McCarthy, Ed.D.


The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to gain more knowledge about leadership dispositions of school principals who could give insight into helping failing schools succeed. High-poverty, low-performing (HPLP) environments with chronically underperforming schools are identified as schools needing a “turnaround.” By learning more about the experiences of teachers and administrative leaders working with school principals in low-performing schools, a better understanding emerged of the leadership dispositions that can engage employees in a successful school turnaround. Three themes emerged based on the experiences from six teachers and four supervisors of school principals regarding the principals’ leadership dispositions and their ability to engage staff in the school improvement process. The three themes include: (a) cultivating a culture of trust, (b) developing a shared vision, and (c) reflective leadership. The findings support the need for leadership dispositions in school principals to assist in the engagement of the school community toward school improvement. This research recommends developing a blueprint for current and aspiring school principals, HR departments, and school districts with HPLP environments and schools that are in need of a turnaround by outlining the identified dispositions for effectively improving a failing school in a turnaround setting.

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