Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Christine Nelson

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Minor


The professional demands on today’s school principal are varied and expansive, and as a result, relevant training and preparation is of utmost importance. Because of these rising demands, principal turnover is not uncommon, especially in low-SES schools. Formalized and strategic principal mentoring, however, has been shown to reduce principal attrition, keeping leaders in their roles and contributing to increased student achievement. This quantitative study examined the responses from school leaders on their experiences in a statewide principal mentoring program and analyzed the connection, in relation to their administrative peers, between their experience as a protégé and their status as a leader in a low- SES system. While no statistical correlation was found between the low-SES status of a leader’s school system and their satisfaction with a statewide mentoring program, leaders did affirm mentoring as a strategy in improving instructional leadership and the value in relational aspects of the program.


This study is focused around the strategy of mentoring leaders, a concept which is of great interest to me professionally, and one that I have greatly benefited from personally. I would first like to thank the 5 JP’s at home: Janelle, James, Jack, Judson, and Judah. They are a great source of joy for me, each in their own God-designed way, and continue to each be “teachers” for me on a variety of topics: practical, relational, and spiritual. I would also like to thank my father-in-law, Dr. James Bernero, who was my inspiration with regards to my entrance into public education. With this work, I would hope that you “are very pleased.” Thank you, too, to Dr. Don White for his years of sacrificial investment into me as a young leader and for being a model of humility and patience, even in the midst of professional turbulence. Additionally, I would like to thank the related professionals in my life who have been of great assistance with this body of work. Special thanks are in order to Dr. Christine Nelson for her encouragement, insight, and responsiveness in the refinement of this study, and to Dr. Elizabeth Minor, for her ongoing support, broad research base, and shared quantitative data experience. A huge thanks, also to, Dr. Jason Leahy, Executive Director of the IPA, for his partnership in this study and for being a consummate professional, so evidently committed to school leaders and their students across the state of Illinois. Lastly, and above all, I would thank Jesus Christ for the peace and purpose that comes in knowing Him, for His continued provision and “stretching of time” when I needed it, for leading through difficult seasons along the way, and for sustaining my family throughout this journey.