Doctor of Education (PhD)
Faculty of Education
Gannell, Gary, More than a calling: the experiences of new principals in christian schools in New South Wales, Ed. D thesis, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong, 2004. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/531
The appointment of a person to the position of Principal is a momentous time in the life of a school. It is also a significant time for the individual appointed to that position, and all the more so if it is that persons first appointment to a principalship. The new Principal has to learn a new task and, in many cases, a new school culture. New Principals in Christian schools face the challenge of learning to be a Principal within a unique school culture. The Christian school is a faith community, where the students, parents and staff expect to see the new Principal express his or her faith through every facet of their leadership and teaching. The employing body, made up of parents and, in many cases, teachers, might approach their role as employers, and demand that the Principal approach his or her role as Principal, in such a way that places unique demands on the new Principal. This research followed the journey of three individuals in their first year as Principals of Christian schools. The focus question of this research was: What are the experiences of Principals in New South Wales Christian schools during their first year in the role? The research involved a series of seven interviews with each of these three Principals during their first twelve months as Principals of a Christian school in New South Wales. It explored their feelings and what relationships and tasks each one faced that generated these feelings. By exploring these matters, the research did not seek to establish any predictions regarding what every new Principal in Christian schools will face, but it sought to propose issues that need to be considered whenever a neophyte Principal is appointed. These issues are relevant to the candidates for the position of Principal and his or her family, the Board making the appointment, and to the wider Christian School Movement. A person who seeks to engage in the role of leadership of any school needs to be properly equipped to face the task. To truly lead a Christian school of the type explored in this study, the prospective Principal needs to have a Christian worldview that is in keeping with that of the school community. The equipping required to lead a Christian school is therefore both spiritual and professional. This research concluded that there are a number of matters worthy of consideration when a person is to be appointed to the position of Principal for the first time. While many of these issues may be unique to first time Principals in Christian schools, many are also relevant to new appointments of experienced Principals to Christian schools, schools founded on other faiths and to secular schools. These issues of calling, role descriptions, training, induction, mentoring, staffing issues, Principal welfare, and welfare of the Principals family may need consideration pre-appointment, on appointment, on commencement and on an ongoing basis. Throughout the research, the researcher became a quasi-mentor. Because of the nature of the research, there was an opportunity to reflectively consider what might be required of a mentor of new Principals in Christian schools. This consideration was initially not intended to be a part of the research, but became what is hoped will be a useful outcome of this project.
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