Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

C. Michael Robinson

Abstract

K-12 Christian schools in the United States are experiencing decreases in enrollment and an increasing number of closures. This qualitative phenomenological study used semi-structured interviews to gain an understanding of the leadership practices of K-12 Christian school leaders in the United States. Six K-12 Christian schools located in the United States were identified as sustainable and their school leaders were interviewed. The leadership practices involved in managing their respective schools were studied and analyzed using three phases: in vivo coding, pattern coding, and code weaving. Findings showed that the school leaders worked within a supportive board governance structure in which the school leader focused his or her energies within four categories and 13 embedded and interconnected practices. The four categories included financial stewardship, managing the culture, striving for excellence, and collaborative leadership. Within financial stewardship the leader practiced strategic planning, sound-fiscal practices, staying mission-focused, and forecasting. Within managing the culture the leader practiced spiritual focus, authentic relationships, and telling the story. Within striving for excellence the leaders practiced innovation, maintaining excellent programs, and hiring excellent people. Within collaborative leadership the leaders practiced leading the process, inspiring others, and shared decision-making. Better understanding of the leadership practices of school leaders will assist current school leaders in their positions and help schools in the selection of their leaders. In addition, this study will add to the leadership science and training programs of K-12 Christian schools to promote increased sustainability of these organizations.

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