The Forgotten Educator: Perceptions of Veteran Secondary Assistant Principals on the Principalship and Possible Promotion Open Access
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Abstract of DissertationThe Forgotten Educator: Perceptions of the Veteran Secondary Assistant Principal on the Principalship and Possible Promotion Literature on educational leadership is lacking representation of the assistant principalship. Many educators who choose to become assistant principals enter school administration with the desire to one day be promoted to the principalship. For many school administrators the assistant principalship is the first administrative position and is considered by some to be the training ground for the principalship. This basic qualitative research study examined the perceptions of current veteran secondary assistant principals as to why they have not applied for or been promoted to the principalship. This study took place in one school district in Virginia. With the use of purposeful and snowball sampling, 12 veteran secondary assistant principals answered a questionnaire and participated in two semi-structured interviews. Themes materialized, and connections to the literature and theory were made. This study used Spillane’s (2006) distributed leadership theory as a lens through which to view the data. Results of the study revealed five prevalent themes representing assistant principals’ beliefs about their failure to apply for or ascend to the principalship: deterrents to the principalship; mistakes and missteps during the assistant principalship; school politics and impact on promotion; experiences needed for the principalship; and assistant principal development and the principalship. The assistant principals expressed their role as involving managerial tasks and being time consuming. Although they recognized the job of principal as being multifaceted and complex, these assistant principals expected the building principal to provide mentorship. They believed their experiences as an assistant principal to be crucial to their development and identified the building principal as the primary source for providing these critical experiences. Although they all entered the job of assistant principal with the desire to eventually become a principal, some of the assistant principals recognized they have some reservations about the principalship or no longer wish to be a principal. The study’s results provided evidence that there are deterrents to the job of principal and influences that can impact assistant principal succession to the principalship. In addition, school districts have the responsibility to reconceptualize the role of the assistant principal to produce highly qualified candidates for the principalship.