Date of Award

Spring April 2015

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Mary K. McCullough

Second Advisor

Shane P. Martin

Third Advisor

Anthony Sabatino


Catholic schools are in need of innovative change. The problem lies in how to construct the elements of change to create viability for a school in the face of rapid declining enrollment. Responding to this type of environment as an educational leader requires qualities and characteristics similar to those of first responders in a medical emergency, a term I coined as the triage principal. This autoethnographic research study was designed to answer three research questions:

1. As a new principal at Michael, the Archangel School (MAS), a Catholic school in danger of closing, what challenges did I experience?

2. As a new leader, how did I respond to the challenges to bring about change at MAS?

3. What did I learn from this first year leadership experience?

This autoethnographic study is constructed from my voice as a first year, first time principal, using several data sources: my blog, my archival field notes, and three interviews from archdiocesan leaders. Each of the given data sources had contained a data collection procedure resulting in overarching thematic patterns that led to generalizations based on the past experiences at MAS and my review of the literature. The weaving of the past and present of my life’s leadership journey in combination with the culture and the people that surround me for this study, has made me realize that I do have a story worth sharing, a story that can potentially help others who might find themselves seemingly lost and alone.


Fourth Advisor: Kevin Baxter