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Catholic Elementary School Principals: Career Paths and Critical Issues

Peggy L Croy, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Twenty-five Catholic elementary school principals were interviewed to identify their career paths and determine the critical issues they faced while performing their jobs. Seventeen women and eight men from schools ranging in size from 27 students to 1200 students were interviewed. The principals’ experience ranged from one year to more than 35 years’ experience in Catholic school administration. Seventeen of the schools had grade levels of preschool through grade eight. Five schools included grades preschool through grade six. Two of the schools included grades kindergarten through grade eight. School locations were diverse: six locations were rural; seven schools were suburban; and, 12 schools were urban. Three principal career paths emerged from the study. These paths were: (a) a “calling” from God to this role as a vocation; (b) a planned career advancement strategy; and (c) serendipitous, it “just happened.” Critical issues identified were: demographics, personnel, finances, recruitment and marketing, parents, priests, building and grounds, and school boards. When asked to choose the “biggest issue” they encountered, the principals cited: finances or resources (8); time management (7); personnel concerns (5); the limitations of their knowledge base (4); enrollment and affordability (3); day-to-day “fire-fighting” (3); and concerns with parents (2).

Subject Area

Educational administration|Elementary education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Croy, Peggy L, "Catholic Elementary School Principals: Career Paths and Critical Issues" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10982261.