Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Second Advisor

Dr. Dennis McCrumb

Third Advisor

Dr. Terance Lunger


Superintendent, principal, relationship, instruction, adapt, development


For this qualitative study, I explored and described how superintendents and principals interpreted and experienced a sustained professional development process focusing on instruction and student learning, a form of Elmore’s Superintendents in the Classroom (SITC) Network. Specifically, I examined how the addition of principals in the SITC learning model experience changed the superintendents’ and principals’ knowledge and beliefs as well as their behavior in three areas: their individual experiences, the working relationship between superintendent and principal, and the way they now think about and encourage student learning.

For this phenomenological study, superintendents and principals were selected and individually interviewed from five districts. The data gathered were deductively and inductively analyzed. Deductively, a literature-based framework was created using the concepts of (a) shared vision (Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Fullan, Bertani, & Quinn, 2004), (b) distributed leadership practices (Burns, 1978; Gordon, 2002; Kellogg, 2006; Walters & Marzano, 2006), and (c) professional learning communities (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008; Muhammed, 2009; Sergiovanni, 2004). While literature reveals that superintendents have had success in the SITC program (Choy, 2003; City, Elmore, Fiarman, & Teitel, 2010; Elmore, 2000, 2004; Rallis, Tedder, Lachman, & Elmore, 2006), this study analyzed the inclusion of principals in the process as well.

Through the data analysis process, I developed six themes: (a) leaders developed new views of instructional best practices, (b) new working relationships developed between the leaders and their teachers, (c) leaders adapted the SITC learning model’s PLC processes, (d) leaders developed new appreciation for the value of working with their peers and colleagues, (d) the SITC training changed how the paired leaders work together, and (e) leaders adapted the SITC training’s best practices onto their administrative teams’ working processes.

My study affirmed, added to, and disputed other research. In particular, I found the importance of principals joining a sustained shared professional development process with their superintendents as it changed them individually, changed how they worked together, and changed the relationship of the leaders as well as the functionality of the administrative team.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access