Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Johnson, Ane Turner

Committee Member 1

Raivetz, Mark J.

Committee Member 2

Graber, Jeff


Aspiring Administrator, Leadership Capacity, Researcher Positionality, Succession Planning, Teacher Leaders as Policy Translators, Workplace Research


Educational leadership; School administrators; Career development


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


This qualitative formative evaluation study revealed how teacher participation in an in-district leadership academy at a New Jersey school district engaged participants in preparing for future leadership roles. A program evaluation using qualitative methods can provide feedback on initiatives so that informed decisions can be made about program improvements (Patton, 2002b; Powell, 2006). Using a series of focus group discussions and interviews to gather such feedback, the study has informed decisions about one program’s evolving structure. Themes that emerged from the data provided by 13 participants were viewed through a constructivist framework, and using Mezirow’s (1981; 1985; 1994; 1997) theory of transformative learning as an interpretive lens, culminating in four findings: aspiring administrators experience a shift in perspective on educational issues that can be disorienting; belonging to a cohort offers needed validation; the use of authentic activities provides aspiring administrators with more confidence about moving into a formal leadership role; the presence of an in-district leadership program is mutually beneficial, allowing a district to prepare for succession events, while empowering teacher leaders to embrace their newly redefined role—as translators—between the administration and the teaching staff. The study’s fifth finding contends that researcher positionality can differ from that of an “insider” or an “outsider” to what is defined herein as an “alongsider” due to the nature of program evaluation combined with using a researcher practitioner’s workplace as the research context.