Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-7-2021


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership (ProDEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Connie M. Moss

Committee Member

Rick McCown

Committee Member

Fran Serenka


Increasing spiritual leadership, lay principals, Catholic school leadership, effective mentoring programs


Traditional principal preparation programs address responsibilities in areas such as school management, student achievement, and staff development, among other areas. A principal of a Catholic school must be trained in these areas “and then some.” They must perform their responsibilities under the overarching umbrella of spirituality. Catholic school principals are expected to be the spiritual leaders of their buildings. When Catholic school principals are not members of the clergy, they lack formal training in theology and faith development. How are these principals prepared to be spiritual leaders?

The purpose of this study was to evaluate two exemplary Catholic school principal preparation programs to identify components of their training, to identify the unique “and then some” qualities necessary for leading Catholic schools, and to identify the characteristics of a principal mentoring program, which supports the spiritual leader of a Catholic school.

A close reading of the materials acquired from their web sites was conducted to determine similarities and differences between the two programs. The researcher compared the findings from the close reading and the comparative analysis to develop a resulting framework to identify competencies that define a spiritual leader in Catholic schools and how a structured mentoring program could support the development of those competencies. The resulting framework defines those characteristics and reveals a set of competencies that define those characteristics in practice.

Finally, the researcher drew conclusions from the newly designed framework to suggest ways that a comprehensive mentoring program that rises to the level of excellence could be developed to support newly hired lay Catholic school principals by employing the competencies that emerged.

Limitations of this study include the use of publicly published descriptions of the components from the two programs studied that did not include data on the impact of those programs on graduating students, or the effectiveness of the mentoring programs. Implications for future research are shared.