Date of Award

Spring 4-2017

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Jill P. Bickett

Second Advisor

Karen K. Huchting

Third Advisor

Rebecca Herr Stephenson


The role of a Catholic school principal is complex and includes promoting Catholic faith and spirituality throughout the school community. The additional job requirements of spiritual leadership are intentional formation for prospective and novice principals and efforts to sustain spirituality for experienced principals. This qualitative study explored the perceptions held by experienced lay elementary principals of their role as spiritual leader as well as how prepared they felt to serve in this role. Additionally, the study explored suggestions for sustaining principals in their role as spiritual leader. Participants were six lay Catholic elementary principals working in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Data were collected in the form of written reflections, interviews, and a focus group. There were three rounds of written reflections and interviews. A focus group was conducted after the three rounds of data collection. Initial analysis was conducted by identifying emerging themes for each research question. The Four Pillars of Jesuit Leadership Framework was used to discuss the findings. Findings indicated the need for formation and training programs for lay Catholic elementary school principals specifically focused on their role as spiritual leader. Additionally, principals need more supports and opportunities to renew themselves to continue serving as spiritual leaders. These findings support the need for the archdiocese to take responsibility for training and forming lay principals as this responsibility is beyond the scope of the Department of Catholic Schools.