The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

James Johnson

Second Advisor

John Eller

Third Advisor

Kim Hiel

Fourth Advisor

Donald Stovall

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

principal; school; intervention; problem solving; education



Serving students in their quest to learn and succeed in life are basic goals of public education (Honig, 2016). The simplified purpose for public education, then, is to provide equal opportunity for all children to learn the basic skills needed to be self-sufficient adults and productive citizens in an ever-evolving society (Darling-Hammond et al., 2019). Early acquisition of basic academic skills, such as reading, writing, and mathematical computation, are considered essential to completing this goal.

Booth and Rowsell (2007) maintain that effective leadership is key to achieving process change and for improving learning outcomes for all students. Research shows that when it comes to implementing interventions, leadership is essential (Shinn & Walker, 2010). While there is scarce research focused on leadership qualities related to the implementation of interventions, most findings have established that the role of the principal is important in obtaining a successful outcome (Bean & Lillenstein, 2012).

The purpose of the mixed-method study was to identify leadership qualities needed for successful academic intervention implementation with struggling students. The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods and the researcher designed the research questions based upon lack of principal leadership qualities needed for successful academic intervention implementation with struggling students in literature review. Participants of the study were select Minnesota school principals at the pre-school, elementary, secondary, and transition levels who were identified as implementing interventions in their schools, and who agreed to be part of the study.

Data collection included two phases: 1) a multiple-choice and short-question survey distributed to survey respondents through electronic mail; and 2) open-ended interviews conducted with five volunteer interviewees who had completed the survey. The multiple-choice survey provided quantitative information while the open-ended response questions presented qualitative data that allowed for clarifying responses and deeper understanding of the information obtained from the multiple-choice survey.

Study results indicated that principals in Minnesota identified several leadership qualities and characteristics needed for effective implementation of school-based problem-solving and intervention processes that matched those presented in research literature. Challenges and evidence of success were addressed. Cultural components and considerations were discussed.



Continuous learning was instilled in me early on in life. Working on and completing a doctoral degree is an extension of this life-long journey in education. Learning more about school improvement and leadership skills in my doctoral program has been extremely rewarding. The cohort model at St. Cloud State University allowed me to pursue my degree and work closely with other professionals in the field. Working so closely together, I now call my classmates, friends. Thank you to my friends in Cohort 10: Dr. Gwen Anderson, Zach Dingmann, Tamuriel Grace, Anne Graner, Dr. Lydia Kabaka, Josie Koivisto, Dr. Chris Rogers, Julianne Schwietz, and Lauren Whiteford.

Having Dr. James Johnson for the first two classes on leadership and visioning helped me get back in the swing of being a student; putting metacognition into action and instilling in me the faith to continue on this path of discovery. A big thank you to all my professors at Saint Cloud State University. First, for giving me the opportunity to pursue this degree, and second for being extremely supportive throughout the process; always available and providing so many valuable resources to make everything move smoothly–thank you, Dr. John Eller, Dr. Kim Hiel, Dr. David Lund, Dr. Plamen Miltenoff, Dr. Francis Kayona, Dr. Amy Christiansen, and Dr. Johnson. I also want to give a huge thank you to Dr. Donald Stovall for supporting me over the years while attending graduate school and after obtaining my master’s and educational specialist degrees at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls. All of you are wonderful, life-long educators.

I send sincere gratitude to those at SCSU who helped me with the writing process–many at the Writing Center and Statistical Center. Being on the receiving end of your shared expertise is greatly appreciated.

I would not have made it through this process without the love and support of my family. My mother, LuEllen Curran, who has always been an inspiration to me, was the first one in our family who graduated from college. She told me about the role of a school psychologist–what eventually became my first career in education. Always the educator, she helped me learn to write by being my personal editor during my undergraduate years. She also provided her special education teacher perspective during my dissertation writing and gave me valuable feedback.

To my husband, Robert Whitney, who encouraged me to apply to the Education and Leadership Program and was there for me throughout every step, cheering me on toward the finish line. Thanks to the support from my family, especially Chuck and Anna Whitney. An additional shout out to Todd, Shelly, Julie, Cindy, Laura, Linda, and Bea – thank you for believing in me and being my friends.

I am forever grateful for this wonderful opportunity.



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