Mara Hoffert

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson

Committee Member

Ella Burton

Committee Member

Nelson Maylone

Committee Member

Jaclyn Tracy


The transition from teacher to assistant-principal is complex. The purpose of this study was to better understand the phenomenon of transition to leadership roles in high schools by investigating the experiences of four teachers who moved from teacher to assistant-principal positions in suburban school-districts in the State of Michigan. This multiple case-study comprises an in-depth examination of four teachers within their first four years as an assistant-principal. Interviews also included one central-office cabinet member from three of the four districts and one teacher in each of the assistant-principals’ schools. Interviews were guided by research questions regarding motivation for successful teacher leaders to move into administrative roles, reflection upon experiences in the transition period, professional preparation for the duties of administration, support offered by the district during their transition into administration, and dilemmas and tensions encountered during the transition period. Data were analyzed to identify patterns that emerged from current social-emotional experiences of teachers transitioning to administration. The four assistant-principals shared valuable, albeit tumultuous, experiences that encompassed their challenges and ultimately their successes as they transitioned into their new roles. Together with insights about the transition from teacher to administrator by central-office administration and teachers who observed the new administrators, four overarching categories paramount to the transition of teacher to administrator emerged: 1) impetus and origins of the transition into administration; 2) realities and challenges of the transition; 3) tension, pressure, and stressors; and 4) differentials in administrative training and mentorship. The results of this study provided insight into the phenomenon of the transition from teacher to assistant-principal. Participants consistently affirmed two concepts about the assistant-principal role. First, self-knowledge is critical‒strengths, weaknesses and how emotions and stress are handled‒and second, control of emotions and managed responses are essential to control the situations on the job. Findings also suggested areas for improvement in each of the identified categories, especially focused on training and mentoring prior to and during the transition period.