Date of Award

Winter 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Educational Leadership

Committee Director

Karen Sanzo

Committee Member

Tammi Milliken

Committee Member

Steve Myran


A majority of rural public schools face difficult and challenging problems: geographical isolation, escalating crime, impoverished families, economic inequities, faculty nonretention, declining enrollments, and lack of success in meeting accreditation benchmarks. In the past decade, support for character education as a valuable pedagogy to complement instruction and academic achievement emerged. The obligation to meet federal and state standards created expectations that school principals have the leadership ability to facilitate strong academic curricula as well as programs fostering students' moral development through character education. Mobilizing resources for character education initiatives becomes the responsibility of school principals or their designees. The purpose of this study was to investigate a principal's perceptions of character education and implementation of such programs in a rural public school, located in a state requiring character education pedagogy. The case study revealed the principals perceptions of character education, how they affected leadership and decision making for program implementation, and the perceived relationship between character education and student achievement. A triangulated protocol employed the critical incident technique, vignettes, interviews, site observations, a focus group, and review of documents to illuminate the inquiry questions. Results provided insights about character education through discernment of the attitudes and beliefs of the principal who facilitated leadership and implementation of character education pedagogy in the school.


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