Date of Award

8-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Educational Administration

Major Professor

Vincent A. Anfara, Jr.

Committee Members

Diana Moyer, Gary Ubben, Thomas N. Turner

Abstract

The time is well past for the American people—especially those that deal with our school aged children on a day-to-day basis—to see what is happening to our children and by extension to our society. If public education is to become truly effective in this time of alienation—both of race and class—then a more caring, nurturing, and trusting approach to the profession of educational administration must be encouraged and engendered. The purpose of this study is to examine the middle school administrator as a caregiver by examining the perceptions of the role by teachers and the principal.

This study focused on the perceptions of the principal as a caregiver in a selected East Tennessee school. This exploratory descriptive case study included thematic development and verification based on data obtained through qualitative means: interviews, observations, and document analysis. The research questions posed at the beginning of this study include: (1) How does this East Tennessee middle school principal respond to the developmental needs of middle school students?; How does this East Tennessee middle school principal respond to the developmental needs of the teachers who support learning for middle school students?; and (3) How does this East Tennessee middle school principal respond to the developmental needs of the middle school as an innovating entity? A theoretical framework based on the work of Brown and Anfara (2002) and Anfara, Roney, Smarkola, Ducette, and Gross (2006) was used to focus the study’s design, and the data collection and analysis, and the reporting of the findings.

Subsequently, the conclusions that were developed in this study describe the perceptions of the role of the caring middle school principal. The first major conclusion is that the developmentally responsive middle school principal responds to students and staff with care. The second conclusion is that the developmentally responsive middle school principal actively practices caring leadership. The final conclusion affirms that the developmentally responsive middle school principal uses the team concept to develop in staff and students a sense of ownership of the school and its programs.

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