Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Nancy Dishner

Committee Members

Terrence A. Tollefson, Louise L. MacKay, Joy Wachs


School-aged children's nutritional needs have changed from a 1946 underweight and undernourished population to rapidly increasing numbers of overweight and obese children with associated health complications. The purpose of this quantitative study was to explore leadership practices of state and system school nutrition professionals. By obtaining information regarding the past and present practices of school nutrition professionals, this researcher strove to provide insight into best practices for future leaders.

Electronic mail messages linked to Kouzes and Posner's (1995) self-reporting leadership practices survey were sent to 194 Tennessee school nutrition professionals (53 state directors and 141 system supervisors). The survey had a response rate of 40.7%. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to analyze responses from the survey's participants.

Findings of the study provided a reflection of current school nutrition professionals' leadership practices and a demographic profile of school nutrition professionals. School nutrition professionals tend to have exemplary leadership skills as measured by the LPI compared to Kouzes-Posner mean scores. Of the nutrition professionals, 68% reported plans to retire in 10 or fewer years. Current school nutrition professionals primarily come from the ranks of existing school instructional personnel. A majority of the school supervisors held associate or bachelor degrees. State directors tended to have degrees at masters or doctorate level. A small number had postsecondary professional training in nutrition and disease. Over half had some type of training in nutrition.

The findings of the study resulted in several suggestions for the school nutrition professional of the future including creation of specialized degree programs and internships at the post secondary level to train future candidates for the job as school nutrition professionals. Today's school nutrition professionals' postsecondary curriculum content could be lacking essential nutrition content area and might not be reflective of the current school population's nutritional risks, needs, and best practices of preventions and/or treatments.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.