Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Perceptions of new public school leaders: Their evolution to the superintendency

Joseph E. Buckley, University of Massachusetts - Amherst


The purpose of this study was to record the perceptions of seven new superintendents of schools who are participating in the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents' (M.A.S.S.) Mentoring Program. The study explores these seven superintendents' ideas and thoughts about leadership and their own evolution to the position of school superintendent. Furthermore the study investigates how each of these superintendents believes his/her background, experience, and career path has influenced him/her in the role of school superintendent. Finally the research documents the stories of these seven superintendents, resulting in conclusions and recommendations about the evolution of school leaders and how M.A.S.S. may assist in developing new school leaders. ^ An exploratory case study method was used to gather data and document the stories of seven newly appointed school superintendents. The case study methodology was influenced in part by I. E. Seidman's model of the in-depth phenomenological interview. ^ The data was analyzed for common categories and recurring themes resulting in three broad categories for analysis: personal background; continuing education and work experience; and on-the job dynamics. Each of these broad categories was further divided into three subsets, resulting in an analysis of the data into nine specific subdivisions. ^ Analyzing and categorizing the data resulted in eight conclusions as well as four recommendations, which are presented in Chapter VI of the study. One of the major conclusions of the study speaks to the extraordinary influence of families, particularly parents, in shaping the values, attitudes, and leadership styles the participants brought to, and manifested in, the position of school superintendent. A major recommendation suggests that school leadership models reflected in the literature, e.g. Fullan's four components of leadership development and sustainability, be incorporated into leadership development programs provided by school superintendents at the local level. ^ Suggestions for further study include replication as well as in-depth investigation of specific leadership programs in operation at the local school district level as well as those in partnership with professional associations and higher education. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Joseph E. Buckley, "Perceptions of new public school leaders: Their evolution to the superintendency" (January 1, 2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. Paper AAI3152675.