Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Ginger Christian

Committee Members

William Flora, Virginia Foley


Public school districts play a pivotal role in the well-being of rural communities. To help mitigate the impact of labor market trends, societal shifts, and the skilled labor shortage, rural schools are in the initial stages of expanding innovative career pathways. As such, career and technical education (CTE) administrators serve their rural communities by facilitating robust career pathways to support local labor markets. Due to a skilled labor shortage, a declining labor force participation rate, and a rapidly evolving labor market, there is a lack of qualified and certified personnel to fill industry jobs (Davis et al., 2022). School districts can impact career readiness and CTE administrators are tasked with facilitating robust career pathways, including increasing access to programs of study, developing new partnerships, and expanding industry certifications and early postsecondary opportunities to support local, regional, and national labor markets and community vitality (Kim et al., 2021).

This narrative inquiry investigated how CTE administrators facilitated the development of career programs of study in rural secondary settings. This study explored the journeys of CTE administrators through their stories of career pathway design, facilitation, and improvement in the context of rural secondary education. Narrative interviews were conducted via one-on-one video conferencing with nine rural CTE administrators from one Grand Division of Tennessee, in addition to organizational document reviews and annals. Two levels of data analysis were used to compose the final research text, with the first level of field texts coded with narrative coding and the second level coded through the identification of resonant narrative threads. Research findings included participant accounts related to resilient and visionary leadership, intentional strategic alignment, ecosystem of collaboration, funding opportunities and barriers, and responsive and adaptive programming. CTE administrators identified systemic changes that when implemented strategically integrate innovative programs of study and partnerships into their rural districts’ broader education system. The findings expand the current body of literature and recommendations for practice.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.