Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership & Research (P-12 Administration)

Document Type



This multiple case study explored the motivations and transitional experiences of select novice Assistant Principals (AP) after leaving the teacher role and assuming an AP position. As a position that is frequently unnoticed and undervalued, it is imperative that new APs are equipped with the tools and skillsets needed to navigate, adjust, and develop in the role. This study focused on the social and organizational structures, transitions, and adjustments that occurred when moving to administrative leadership from a teacher role and was grounded by the theoretical frameworks of Organizational Socialization Theory and Role Theory.

Four teacher-turned-AP participants with no prior leadership experience agreed to participate in the study. Data were collected and analyzed from the participants using one-on-one interviews, focus group interviews, job description and application artifacts, and the researcher’s reflective journal. Results of this study revealed the following themes when examining the AP transition from a teacher role: Considering the Position, Burnout, Expectations of the Role, Being “Socialized” into the School Community, Having Support while Transitioning, and Role Stressors. Through their experiences and perspectives, it was revealed that APs were predominantly motivated to enter the role to help teachers, students, and parents. Even though APs leaned on their past experiences as a teacher to help them transition into the role, characteristics developed in the role to withstand the stress of the position and negotiate conflicts within the school community. When presented with an accurate job description, support, and professional development, APs can set realistic job expectations, prepare for the role, and ease into the transition. The findings from this study contained critical information on the role of APs and the functions of the professional transition—which subsequently provided critical insights on how to better understand the role (and what is needed to succeed in the position) to increase retention of new administrators.



Committee Chair

Sulentic Dowell, Margaret-Mary



Available for download on Thursday, March 09, 2028