Examining principal succession
Bengtson, Edwin Glenn
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The purpose of this study was to examine how one school system experienced succession. The goals of the study were to identify the nature, characteristics, and practices of the succession of principals in the selected Georgia school system through the interpretation of the spoken words of the participants. To examine the experiences of individuals who succeeded into the principalship and the experiences of central office leaders who managed the succession process, a qualitative case study method was used. Six participants were interviewed with four different protocols yielding a total of twenty-four interviews. The protocols explored the practices and experiences of the participants relating to socialization, professional development, supervision and evaluation, and succession. In addition, artifacts and fieldnotes were used as additional sources of data. The findings of the study reveal that there was a high sense of urgency for succession planning and management embraced by school system leaders in the Barker County School System. While individuals who had recently succeeded into the principalship were challenged by the high expectations of the system and the community, they also experienced a substantial amount of support from central office leaders in meeting those challenges. The Barker County School System supported succeeding principals by increasing the control of professional and organizational socialization of new principals. Additionally, the system developed evaluation, professional development, and recruitment practices based on the same well-defined competencies. Professional development of principals was viewed as a means of support and was embedded into the daily work of principals. The findings suggest that the large urban system in this single case study displayed practices which were consistent with succession theory as defined by the literature outside the field of education.
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