Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Ginger Christian

Committee Members

Pamela Scott, Virginia Foley


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine middle and high school principal roles prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic to gain a better understanding about how leadership responsibilities adapted or changed. Data collection strategies included one-on-one interviews with nine middle and high school principals in East Tennessee. To qualify for the study participants had to have experience in the principalship prior to the pandemic. The analysis of data was based on the theoretical frameworks of adaptive leadership (Heifetz et al., 2009) and change theory (Fullan, 2020). The results revealed five key themes that were consistent during the interviews both prior to and during the pandemic: (a) instructional leadership, (b) school culture and climate, (c) school management, (d) community partnerships, and (e) relationships. The following four emergent themes were specific to adaptive changes principals identified while leading during the pandemic: (a) social-emotional awareness, (b) digital teaching and learning, (c) communication, and (d) whole child.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the author.