Date of Award



© 2021 John L. Hewitt III

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Gizelle Luevano

Second Advisor

Patrick Manuel

Third Advisor

Michelle Collay


Rural schools face challenges that differ from those faced by urban and suburban schools. Many are isolated, located in poor areas, understaffed, and subject to resource scarcity. In addition to these challenges, rural school leaders are often assigned or assume additional roles and responsibilities as school principals. My goal was use Northouse’s (2016) leadership theory to perform a qualitative comparative case study on eight rural school principals in districts in southwestern Wisconsin to explore their roles, responsibilities, and leadership styles. The study found that rural school principals incur multiple, non-traditional, and unfamiliar roles and responsibilities. The study also found that rural school principals employ different leadership styles that support their process, generate influence, persuade and influence groups, and work to achieve common goals. The study gave voice to eight rural school principals, whose experiences showed the nuances of leading a rural school. Recommendations included investment in staffing and professional development training for incoming rural principals. Resistance to change and technology in rural schools both warranted future study considerations.


Ed.D. Dissertation