Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. D. Eric Archer

Second Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves

Third Advisor

Dr. Nancy Bjorklund


Novice principals, Dominican principals, mentoring, principal leadership, public school, principal's role


Research on principal leadership is extensive; however, studies suggest such research cannot be generalized across all contexts, as educational leaders’ needs are a result of the specific context in which they work. Since there is limited research on principal leadership in the Dominican Republic (DR), the country can benefit from current and contextualized research on principal leadership within primary and secondary education. The purpose of this basic interpretive qualitative study is to explore Dominican public-school novice principals’ early career experiences and how they identified their needs entering the principalship. Through portraiture, this study aims to document principals’ life stories, background, feelings, and pathways to becoming principals. Participants included 10 novice principals who had one to five years of experience in the role and who worked in public primary and secondary schools in Educational Region 15 in Santo Domingo, DR. Data collection procedures involved indepth interviews, a participant-profiling guide, and observations.

Principals in the study describe their role as one who is accountable for school processes. Findings from the study suggest that principals face the challenges and demands of the principalship without a proper induction process, which is the main issue they encounter throughout their experience as principals. These challenges refer to finding a balance between instruction and management, dealing with the community, children’s vulnerability, and their feelings as novice principals. Participants discussed their need for training in leadership strategies and management, particularly at a time of national educational reform in the DR. Principals also expressed that their main challenge with the reforms is teachers’ resistance, more so than navigating these changes themselves. Finally, principals in this study reported that they would benefit from formal support groups or networks for novice principals. This study suggests further research on how principals perceive existing principal preparation programs, the influence of mentors, and induction programs in the Dominican educational system should be conducted.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access