Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Higher Education

First Advisor

Judy Marquez-Kiyama, Ph.D.


Rural schools, Rural school leaders, Educational funding


The aim of this mixed methods research study was to explore the lived experiences of Colorado's rural school leaders with the objective of explicating factors embedded within their lived experiences towards, where appropriate, an evolution of principal preparation programs; to lay the foundation for later research study inquiries; to determine if the phenomenon being observed may be expounded upon by a current theory; and to conclude if lived experiences contain answers towards a resolution of the two problems which informed this study. This exploratory approach yielded two primary themes with supporting points that are presented and discussed within this and the following chapter. These emergent themes include: (a) the scope and profundity of the rural school leader role, and (b) rural school leader perceptions of role preparedness.

This study's discoveries revealed numerous access points to support both the significance of and attention to Colorado's rural school leaders lived experiences. However, it is acknowledged that the discoveries, which emerged as part of this exploratory study, may also exist in non-rural contexts. Further, while this study was guided by an attention on rural school leaders, some of the emergent discoveries may also extend to teachers and staff both in rural and non-rural contexts. The problems guiding this research study were: (a) the decline in the availability of education funding; and (b) the decline in availability of rural-prepared leaders for Colorado's rural schools. Thus, the research question that guided this exploration was how can the lived experiences of Colorado's rural school leaders inform the evolution of principal preparation programs?

Organized and presented as supporting points under the first theme described as the scope and profundity of some of the rural school leader roles, includes the description of rural school leader's role responsibilities, illustration of factors that contribute to perceptions of role complexity, illustration of factors that contribute to perceptions of role fulfillment difficulty, resource availability and leader choices affecting role delegation, illustration of factors that contribute to role frustration, role burnout, and role departure, and rural as an intentional choice. Under the second theme, described as perceptions of role preparedness, supporting points includes the presentation of retirement timelines and perceptions of current role successor availability, role preparedness within the parameters of rural experiences and rural-specific role preparation, role socialization, and professional development.

Publication Statement

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Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Bryan E. DeShasier

File size

364 p.

File format





Higher Education