Date of Graduation

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department/Program

Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Doreen Jones

Second Advisor

Dan McPherson

Third Advisor

Ralph Metts

Abstract

The responsibilities of Catholic secondary school leaders are multifaceted, and their roles demand essential skills and preparation to ensure success. In addition to performing a myriad of administrative duties, Catholic secondary school presidents and principals are called to exercise "faith leadership" within their schools. Faith leadership is a distinctive aspect of Catholic school administration and one that the Catholic Church has historically acknowledged as paramount to its mission. Faith leadership in this study is defined as exercising the competencies and practices related to faith development, community building, moral formation, and mission advancement.

The importance of faith leadership to the mission of Catholic schools has been studied extensively, but a review of Catholic school literature in relationship to faith leadership has revealed that most of the investigations on this topic have been conducted in relationship to Catholic elementary school leaders. There is limited research regarding its role in the context of Catholic high schools, and few studies regarding the preparation and practices of high school administrators as faith leaders. Hence, this study sought to further the exploration of faith leadership relative to both concerns. Specifically, it investigated the perceptions of the presidents and principals of Catholic secondary schools in six (arch)dioceses within northern California--Monterey, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa, and Stockton-- regarding their practices and their preparation as the faith leaders of their schools.

This study utilized mixed methodology: survey research and telephone interviews. Sixty percent of the population, or 41 respondents, completed the on-line survey. Additionally, five survey respondents, representing the participating (arch)dioceses, participated in follow-up telephone interviews.

Both presidents and principals under review reported that they exercised the competencies and practices of faith leadership regarding the aforementioned faith leadership areas in a variety of ways and to a great extent. They also reported that their experience as Catholic school administrators greatly influenced their ability to be faith leaders in all four areas. In addition, they perceived themselves to be prepared for faith leadership in all four areas. These findings are contrary to those of former studies on this topic.

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