Date of Award



© 2019 Colby James Smart

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Ella Benson

Second Advisor

Laura Bertonazzi

Third Advisor

Garry Eagles


Professional isolation and lack of relevant professional growth opportunities are common challenges for California’s rural school administrators. More than 27% of California’s 1,026 public school districts employ superintendent–principals as their sole administrator. The problem examined in this study is the degree to which participation in a blended community of practice (COP) affected the professional isolation and lack of professional growth opportunities that California’s superintendent–principals experience. The purpose of this descriptive case study is to help decision makers understand better the impact that blended COPs have on alleviating professional isolation and gaps in professional learning. This study informs the reader on the unique aspects of the superintendent–principal role through the lens of the administrators who participated in the blended COP known as the California Rural Superintendent Principal’s Academy (CRSPA). The data was collected through an interview process with a sample of eight CRSPA participants from the 2018–2019 cohort. Five key thematic themes were identified from analyzed data including: (a) collegial networks (e.g., CRSPA) are important to addressing professional isolation of superintendent–principals, (b) CRSPA’s blended COP model was a positive experience that supported their professional growth, (c) the scope of responsibilities of the superintendent–principal role can be overwhelming, (d) the advantages to the superintendent–principal role are related to the efficiency and freedom of the position, and (e) coaching was an important part of CRSPA’s design.


Ed.D. Dissertation