Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership


College of Education


James Coaxum III, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

JoAnn B. Manning, Ed.D.

Committee Member 2

Stephen H. Genco, Ed.D.


school culture, autoethnography


Middle school principals


Educational Leadership


This autoethnography study offers a personalized account of my experience as a middle school principal in a suburban school district. During my tenure in this leadership role, I was able to shape school culture and create a positive school culture. My research into the area of leadership led me to the work of John Kotter. My adherence to the eight step leadership principles as delineated in Leading Change offered me a vehicle by which the change process in my school could be viewed. Further research into educational theories aided in my understanding of my role as a leader. As indicated in my reflection journals, I had envisioned myself as a transformational leader whose actions inspired others. Although there was truth in that espoused belief that was only one side of my leadership coin. As defined by my practices and eventually understood through my reflection, my leadership methods were that of a transactional leader. Many of my practices created level two change and adhered to shared leadership principles of practice but ultimately my leadership style was defined by my transactional approach. As I view my ten years as the principal of The Brownstein Middle School, I can accept myself as what I became affectionately called “a benevolent dictator.” I embraced people with respect and the desire to create a happy home for all my staff. One decade later The Brownstein Middle School remains a happy home to all its staff.

Available for download on Friday, September 26, 2025