Rural School Principals’ Perceptions regarding Cultural Responsiveness

Sara Wehrmann, Tennessee State University


This qualitative multiple case study explored three rural school principals’ perceptions of culturally responsive leadership and if and how their experiences influence their beliefs. The setting of this research was a predominately white rural southeastern school district in the United States where a recent increase in Hispanic students has changed the student demographics. Sensemaking Theory (Evans, 2007) and the Cultural Proficiency Leadership Framework (Terrell et al., 2018) guided this study and provided insight into the participants’ experiences and leadership behaviors and the impact on their perceptions of culturally responsive leadership. The study’s findings suggest participating rural principals perceive culturally responsive leadership as not appropriate for a public school setting or not a priority in the schools. All three principals strive to promote a positive and caring school environment. The findings also demonstrated the principals’ lack of clarity regarding culturally responsive leadership practices and responsibilities. Recommendations for future research include studies that encompass not only principals’ perceptions of culturally responsive leadership, but also teachers’ and family members’ perceptions. Principal professional development could provide training for a deeper understanding of the benefits of leading in a culturally responsive way that would also strengthen family engagements in the community. Instructional leadership programs may consider strengthening culturally proficient school leadership standards to better inform principal candidates in districts with every-changing student demographics.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Multicultural Education|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Sara Wehrmann, "Rural School Principals’ Perceptions regarding Cultural Responsiveness" (2020). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI27744276.