Term of Award

Fall 2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

William Reynolds

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

John Weaver

Committee Member 3

Neal Saye


This in-depth study explored the leadership issues that confront one African American woman principal in the Southeastern United States. The focus was on race, gender, and power issues that influence the leadership styles and successful career of this educator. Traditionally, educational leadership has silenced the voices and particular experiences of the female leader, which marginalized her as a viable decision-maker in curriculum implementation. The African American woman principal, because of her unique status that intersects the boundaries of race, gender, and class, encounters a daily battle of discrimination. However, despite these barriers that seek to define and re-define her leadership capacities, she has emerged as a successful leader and has made remarkable contributions to education reform in the school setting and the implementation of the curriculum. The African American woman principal's historical struggle as an emerging voice in education and society is in itself a model for theoretical interpretation and critical inquiry.

The participant was an African American woman principal at the high school level. The participant had a degree in Administration and Supervision and an L-6 Georgia Leadership certification. She was a veteran educator with a total of thirty-two years in education. Administrators in Georgia schools are required to have at least three years of successful classroom experience in order to qualify for Leadership certification.

There were three strands for the theoretical framework of my inquiry: narrative inquiry (the stories of survival and success of the African American woman principal were shared and served as a knowledge base for leadership training). Critical Race Theory (through the lens of Critical Race Theory, the voice and experience of the marginalization and oppression of African American woman leader was heard), and Black Feminist Thought (Afrocentric feminist thought emphasized the importance that knowledge plays in empowering oppressed people). Data collection methods included interviews, observations, reflective journals, researcher interview reflection log notes, tape-recorded interviews, and a professional artifact that was significant to the participant's leadership experience.

Research has suggested that the disparities that exist in the promotion of women to school leadership positions are pervasive and even more prevalent for African American women. To meet the challenges that plague the curriculum and provide a democratic education for all involved, new emphasis must be placed on the selection of qualified candidates and the acknowledgement of the African American woman as a significant contributor to school leadership.


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