Marie Simone

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Sernak, Kathleen


Teacher morale


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


During my tenure in several school districts as an educational administrator, I was dismayed to learn that a common theme among bright, energetic, caring, and creative teachers was that morale was low and that teachers rarely felt recognized for their efforts or accomplishments. I was curious to see if recognition and respect offered by educational leaders would help to improve a sense of personal and professional efficacy among teachers, thereby improving school morale and retention of teachers in the profession. Morale is defined by Mendel (1987) as a feeling, state of mind, mental and emotional attitude. Washington, et al (1981) define morale as the feeling a worker has about his job based upon how the worker perceives himself in the organization and the extent to which the organization is viewed as meeting the worker's own needs and expectations. Bentley and Rempel (1980) describe morale as the professional interest and enthusiasm that a person displays toward the achievement of individual and group goals in a given job situation. When a healthy school environment exists and teacher morale is high, teachers feel good about each other and feel a sense of accomplishment from their jobs (Hoy & Miskel, 1987). Through personal and professional stories, this study examined two journeys. The first focused on a change project within a school district that examined the effects of recognition and appreciation upon the personal and professional efficacy of special services staff. The second journey reflected the path of my leadership from my espoused theories to my theories-in-use as I led staff through this change process. The leadership story examined my personal and professional journey as well as the journeys of teachers toward self-actualization. Findings from this study will inspire teachers to reflect upon their own stories and experiences in a collegial atmosphere in order to develop personal and professional efficacy. The study shows that respect is the key ingredient to the establishment of effective educational organizations where teachers are recognized, supported, and engaged in learning communities. When teachers feel empowered, then morale and self-esteem are enhanced and the entire organization benefits.