Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Sheryl Cowart Moss

Second Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Sauers

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito


This study aimed to examine the leadership and program management perspectives of preschool directors in a large urban area in the Southeastern United States. Given that there are no defined national preparation standards and requisite competencies for preschool directors, this inquiry sheds light on how directors become leaders, how directors are supported, and how directors manage their programs. Also, this study describes how directors incorporated constructs of self-efficacy in their leadership and program management.

The researcher employed a qualitative multi-case study design bounded by place, definition, and context as the study's methodology. To access data for the case study, the researcher provided a demographic questionnaire and a Principal Self-Efficacy Scale (PSES) to the Abacus Early Childhood Education Leaders (AECEL) group members. Of these, six participants exhibiting varying levels of self-efficacy were invited back for two semi-structured interviews. The interviews were transcribed and thematically coded. Each interview was analyzed line-by-line for emerging patterns or themes. This thematic coding process allowed for deeper insight when analyzing the participants' interviews.

The results from the PSES, along with information collected from the questionnaire and interviews, were all compiled to complete a descriptive report. The findings illustrate that preschool directors defined their leadership style as collaborative, relationship-focused, and responsive regardless of self-efficacy levels. They overcame challenges and persevered through operational difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. They set high goals for themselves and applied the same high standard for their teachers. None of the directors interviewed had planned on becoming a preschool director. With no early childhood leadership program preparation available, these directors took it upon themselves to seek ways to build their leadership capacity and knowledge in managing a preschool.


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