Exploring the Lived Experiences of Assistant Principals Who Participated in Their District-Based Principal Leadership Academy: A Narrative Inquiry

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Administration

Date of Award

Spring 2023


The principal's impact as an instructional leader influences many elements that keep a school building running effectively. Assistant principals, as emerging school leaders, must be prepared and cultivated with the proper support and resources to thrive in principalship positions. Support through school district-based principal preparation and mentoring programs should prepare and equip these leaders with the skills and tools necessary to navigate their management and instructional leadership roles while thriving in the principal role. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of assistant principals who participated in their school district’s principal leadership academy and to understand how they perceived the program's effectiveness in developing the skills necessary to carry out the five Texas principal standards identified by the Texas Education Agency. To investigate assistant principals' perceptions, the researcher used narrative inquiry to acquire rich stories of participants’ experiences during their time in the district’s principal leadership academy. Specifically, 6 current and former assistant principals participated in semi-structured interviews. Data from the interviews yielded themes specific to answering the three research questions. Two themes emerged from participant responses to Research Question 1: (a) the academy’s quality, design, and preparation for leadership practices and (b) the alignment of meaningful learning that coincides with realistic job expectations. And three themes related to Research Question 3 emerged: (a) the academy’s instructional and applied learning opportunities, (b) improved practice with effective instructional leadership and ongoing collaborative experiences with strategic operations, and (c) the program’s culture of professional relationships and personal peer support. All participants serve in the same urban school district in North Texas, and thus attended the same principal leadership academy. Study findings provide district leaders and program facilitators with opportunities to build the capacities of future leaders as well as improve current leadership preparation programs.


Nate Templeton

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision