Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Department

Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Advisor

Barbara V. Strobert, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Anthony Colella, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Margaret Boland, Ed.D.

Keywords

Catholic Identity, Parish School, Catholic School, Pastor, Principal

Abstract

The most prevalent model of Catholic schools has always been and remains the parish elementary school. Catholic schools are not simply private schools but a faith based arm of a larger parish. The interconnected leadership of schools by pastors and principals is at the core of understanding the model and inseparable in long-term viability. The purpose of the study was to explore the commonalities and divergences within the pastor and principal relationships in New Jersey Catholic, suburban, elementary schools. The study investigated the following research questions. (1) How do New Jersey pastors and principals of suburban Catholic elementary schools perceive the key areas of mission and need within the parish school of 2016? (2) How do New Jersey pastors and the principals within suburban parish elementary schools describe their roles and responsibilities within the school and parish? (3) How do pastors and principals perceive the sustainability of Catholic parish schools?

This mixed methods study sought to gather a robust response set to best analyze the research questions. Pastors and principals of suburban Catholic parish elementary schools from three diocese in the State of New Jersey were invited to complete an anonymous electronic survey. The electronic survey was primarily quantitative with only a few open ended response items. The survey collected some basic demographic information and collected responses to key areas of mission aligned to a Likert scale.

Five each of pastors and principals later participated in confidential interviews. Interviews were approximately 30 minutes in length and further explored the research questions. The electronic survey and interview transcriptions were analyzed by the researcher identifying key themes. The primary areas of focus and concern voiced throughout the surveys and interviews by both pastor sand principals were Enrollment, Finances, and Catholic Identity. This study builds upon an expansive body of research on Catholic education. The study seeks to bring greater clarity to the key roles and mission of suburban Catholic parish elementary schools and provide a framework for further research.

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