Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

John Mendes, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

April Collett, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jill Williams, Ed.D.


This study followed a phenomenological qualitative approach to understand the complexity surrounding the experiences of the elementary school principals, build understanding around how they describe their daily life of school, and how they lead transformational change and build school culture. I sought to understand the associated skills, knowledge, and behaviors that elementary school principals employed and how the relational and collegial theories of transformational, instructional, and servant leadership were applied by elementary principals in leading transformational change and building school culture. Five key themes provided insight into the experiences of these elementary principals, the associated skills, knowledge, and behaviors that they employed, and how they applied the theories of relational and collegial leadership. The identified themes included students first and foremost, people and relationships matter, leadership is approached through service, purpose, vision, values, and humility are central, and professional learning is ongoing and collaborative. Transformational change is led, and school culture is built through these five themes and by applying organizational practices creating a welcoming environment, embracing a restorative approach to behavior and discipline, acknowledging that words and language-built agency and identity, ensuring equity and inclusivity in learning for all students, and focusing on continued improvement for themselves and their school.