Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


Ed Bengtson

Committee Member

Marcia Smith

Second Committee Member

Kelli Dougan


Leadership Succession, Onboarding, Primary Years Program


The International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) model of education is unique and comprehensive, and so is the PYP principal. This qualitative study examined the perceptions of Mid-West United States IB PYP leaders related to leadership succession, the onboarding processes experienced by the new leaders, and the effective leadership traits possessed by the new leaders. This study involved a phenomenological study in nature. A criterion sampling approach was used to identify six participants of the study. A semi-structured interviewing protocol allowed elaboration by participants and to discover aspects not originally considered. The key findings included the following: lack of formal structure of leadership succession and onboarding processes, perceived and modified traits of the leader, and the differences between an IB PYP model and a traditional model of school. The conclusions derived from the study were that aspiring leaders cannot assume schools will provide a structured formal leadership succession plan or onboarding plan. Principals with IB PYP experience prior to assuming the role as principal have a better transition, and less of a learning curve than those with less, or no IB PYP experience. Participants perceived they had effective traits and qualifications that were changed or eliminated because of IB practice and philosophy. Another conclusion was that barriers will exist, and that the new leader should have an awareness of this, and seek ways to eliminate the barriers. One recommendation is for schools to develop a structured leadership succession and onboarding plans specific to the IB PYP. Hiring practices should be evaluated and leaders should be assessed according to the IB effective leadership traits. Additional research could include: hiring practices of IB PYP principals, private vs. public school practices, and hiring practices of PYP coordinator and teachers.