Experiences of novice principals at low performing campuses in South Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic




Guajardo, Iris

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This study is grounded at the intersection of the extant literature on leading effective schools, navigating the challenges of diverse low-performing, high poverty campuses, and supporting the needs of novice principals often hired to meet the needs of these struggling campus contexts. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological dissertation was to illuminate the voice and the perceptions of first-year principals regarding their experiences in leading low-performing campuses during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Region One education service area in South Texas. To capture the essence of the experience of novice principals in this context, each of the six eligible participants, all of whom were also Hispanic, had to have assumed the position of campus principals in 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 on Title I Schoolwide campuses identified as Targeted Support, Additional Targeted Support or Comprehensive Support schools in 2019, were interviewed. The findings addressed the challenges novice principals experienced across these themes: (a) first impressions set the reality; (b) school micropolitics add to the unknown; (c) lack of preparation for leading struggling campuses and (d) the impact of COVID-19 compounded the pressure. The findings also included the support novice principals need to navigate through the challenges of leading their low-performing schools: (a) creating a network of support and (b) developing social justice leaders.



educational leadership, pandemic, social justice



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