Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


John Pijanowski

Committee Member

Ed Bengtson

Second Committee Member

Kara Lasater


Education, Effective leadership, School leadership


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the leadership experiences and perspectives of five National Distinguished Elementary Principals (NDPs) from the Class of 2010 serving in the Midwest region of the United States. Specifically, the study investigated the application and selection process of recognition as an NDP, their views of school leadership, and their perception of best professional practices. Using a phenomenological approach, the researcher used semistructured phone interviews and analyzed National Distinguished Principal application essays. The required essays focused on balancing leadership and management, promoting parent involvement, supporting and challenging learners, and advancing a positive culture. The findings indicated the application and selection process as NDP has a unique variance between states, NDPs exercise an integrated leadership approach rooted in professional collaboration, and NDPs use a variety of best practices that focus around hiring, terminating, and communicating expectations.