Dissertation

The perspectives and experiences of African American female elementary school principals

Through narrative inquiry, a qualitative study of the lived experiences of six African American female elementary school principals in two urban districts was conducted within the theoretical frameworks of Black feminist and critical race theories. The study examined how race and gender influence the role of African American female elementary principals, the challenges they encounter and the support structures they utilize to sustain in their positions. The data reveal that race and gender statuses were significant factors in shaping their roles as school site administrators and that these women face unique challenges related to their identification as Black and female. Additionally, each story reveals how professional networks, family and spirituality support them in their efforts to lead urban schools. This dissertation provides three pillars which can be used to effectively support African American female elementary school principals in their complex roles as urban school leaders.

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