Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Pamela Williamson

Second Advisor

Dr. Kim Cheek

Third Advisor

Dr. David Hoppey

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Mistie Rodriguez

Department Chair

Dr. Amanda Pascale

College Dean

Dr. Daniel Dinsmore


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenology-informed study is to examine the lived experiences of new principals and to understand the experiences that have influenced their role as principal. Phenomenological research is “interested in an analytical and descriptive experience of phenomena by individuals in their everyday world” (Eddles-Hirsch, 2015). This framework is what drove the research study into the lived experiences of new principals and the experiences that have influenced their role. The study is qualitative in nature using three in-depth, semi-structured interviews with five new principals in a Northeast Florida school district for a total of 15 interviews. The research questions that guided the research were: How do new principals (years 1-3) experience the principalship? And what personal and professional experiences have influenced the role of the principalship?

Findings reveal three major themes related to the research questions: professional and personal experiences, principal supports, and immense responsibility. The new principals participated in preparation programs at the university level and district level. All agreed that while beneficial, they would benefit with a more hands-on approach alongside a mentor administrator. The new principals’ experiences as classroom teachers and school coaches gave them many skills, used now in the principal role, and allowed them to be very comfortable with instructional leadership. Each of the new principals had a range of experiences as assistant principals with some having limited experience while others had extensive experiences. The new principals could name a variety of supports, but all felt that more intentional support is needed. The new principals all described having a feeling of immense responsibility as a new principal and lack strategies and support to cope with and manage those responsibilities.