Date of Award



© 2021 Stanley F. Sampson III

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Ella Benson

Second Advisor

LaTonya Bolden

Third Advisor

Jeffrey Beaudry


The general topic of this qualitative case study was nature-based education for preschool children, which was explored through the lens of transformative leadership and its key principles: equity, inclusion, and democracy. The purpose was to examine nature-based preschool leaders’ perceptions of leadership. The research questions that guided this study were: a.) what are educational leaders’ perceptions of the significance of the transformative leadership components of inclusion, equity, and democracy in nature-based preschool education? b.) what are educational leaders of nature-based preschool programs’ perceptions of the impact their leadership style has upon their schools’ stakeholders, which include teachers, students, parents, and community? The participants were the leaders of five nature-based preschool programs. The findings included the importance of modeling and meeting the needs of stakeholders, and the development of empathy and compassion as a key result of their leadership. Further, the leaders of these programs emphasized the significance of teamwork and collaboration coupled with building strong relationships with stakeholders. A pattern emerged from the data that the principles of transformative leadership tend to occur naturally in nature-based preschool education, and that the empathy and compassion that are developed contribute to an inclusive, equitable, and democratic learning environment. Additionally, nature-based preschool leaders recognize that their leadership has a significant impact on their stakeholders. Recommendations include developing a framework for leadership in nature-based preschool education and expanding professional development opportunities for leaders in this field.


Ed.D. Dissertation