Principal Perceptions on the Impact of Leadership Development Attributed to the Virginia Tech School Leaders Institute Recently Appointed Administrator Program

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Virginia Tech


The role of the school principal is second only to classroom instruction in terms of its impact on student achievement. Due to the evolving needs of students, schools, and school districts, the training of new principals should not end once they assume their first position. Research shows that while preparation programs designed to accredit new principals are critical, a growing body of literature is calling attention to the importance of professional growth opportunities that will further the development of educational leaders and address the day-to-day challenges of the role. To support this need, a number of research-based programs that are aligned with national educational leader standards create potentially valuable opportunities for ongoing professional development for principals.

This qualitative study was designed to describe the perceptions and experiences of the recently appointed principals who participated in the Virginia Tech School Leaders Institute Recently Appointed Administrator Program (RAAP) and to examine how the RAAP contributed to their leadership development as a principal. Specifically, two questions guided this study: 1) How did principal participants indicate the RAAP contributed to their role as a principal? 2) What were the perceptions of principal participants regarding the impact of the RAAP on their leadership development? Three sources of data were used to generate findings: a demographic survey, primary data in the form of the transcription from a single focus group interview, and secondary data in the form of reflective synopses from 16 participants who took part in either the 2017, 2018, or 2019 program year. Four major findings supported by participant statements arose from this study: (a) participation in the RAAP informed them of the benefits of self-reflection and the awareness of self-care and balance as a principal, (b) by participating in the RAAP they found value in networking and building collegial relationships to overcome challenges as a recently appointed principal, (c) participation in the RAAP strengthened their leadership skills and increased their confidence, and (d) participation increased their knowledge and their ability to create actionable steps to support and implement new initiatives and programs in their schools. Implications for practice and suggestions for future research are discussed.



principal preparation programs, on-going principal professional learning, novice principal, recently appointed principal