Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Catherine H. Glascock

Committee Members

Cecil N. Blankenship, James H. Lampley, Jeffrey Cantrell, Pamela H. Scott


The purpose of this study was to research one specific approach to developing and sustaining rural teacher leaders in a high-poverty area with limited resources for teachers. The study investigates The Appalachian Writing Project, a nonprofit organization serving far southwest Virginia and how the AWP has affected rural teachers in educational leadership positions and the resulting impact on educational experiences for students.

The participants in this study represent a unique population, composed of certified teachers in extreme southwest Virginia who have completed the Appalachian Writing Project's Invitational Summer Institute (2001-2010) and serve as Teacher Consultants for that organization.

Qualitative data were gathered through a survey, interviews, and document analysis for the purpose of identifying and analyzing the variables that lead teachers to: apply to the Appalachian Writing Project, remain active in the AWP, and ultimately become leaders within the orgaizational structure. The research results provide strong evidence to suggest that participants' pedagogical practices are positively impacted as a result of participation in the Appalachian Writing Project, and in the participants' opinion students are positively impacted in terms of student achievement. The study also reveals that Teacher Consultants continue to conduct research in their classrooms after the summer institute and that Teacher Consultants have accepted both formal and informal leadership positions as a result of their inquiry. Finally, the results of the study revealed that the Appalachian Writing Project sustains and supports Teacher Consultants in their leadership positions.

Resulting recommendations include encouraging school divisions to consider the Appalachian Writing Project's research findings and contract with the AWP for professional development. Also, school administrators might want to encourage and fund lead teachers who wish to apply to the Appalachian Writing Project's Invitational Summer Institute. Finally, school administrators whose schools include AWP Teacher Consultants might want to continue to support, encourage and fund them within the site and school division. While the study suggests a definite link between teacher participation in the Appalachian Writing Project and student achievement, more research could provide statistical data to link participation in the AWP to improved student achievement.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.