Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Chair; Edward F. DeRoche, PhD; Kathleen M. Collins, PhD


academic program, assistant principals, facilities, Leadership studies, middle schools, order & discipline, organizational theorists, positive school climate, qualitative, school administration, trust


Organizational theorists have for over 50 years used the concept of organizational climate to study and describe the effects of environment on the attitudes and behaviors of individual members and subgroups within organizations. Within the school setting, researchers and practitioners have increasingly used the concept of organizational climate to evaluate school effectiveness, particularly in middle schools where school climate plays a central role in middle school strategies and philosophies. Though extensive research has examined the relationship between climate and leadership in business, industry, and government, relatively few studies have eyed the linkages between school climate and leadership within the school setting. The research that has been conducted in education has tended to focus exclusively on the influence of the school principal. Noticeably absent from the literature is any reference to the relationship between an assistant principal's attitudes and behaviors and school climate. This study responds to the need to examine the relationship between a middle school assistant principal's leadership and the organizational climate within a middle school. It is a qualitative case study that employs interviews, observations, and document and artifact reviews to investigate the effect that the attitudes and behaviors of a middle school assistant principal has on a school considered by its district leadership and county office of education to have a positive school climate. The study is conducted within the conceptual framework of four school climate indicators: order and discipline, trust, academic program, and facilities. Two research questions guide the study: (a) Did the evidence support the assumption that a positive climate exists in this school, and (b) if so, what assumptions and behaviors of the assistant principal appear to contribute to the establishment and maintenance of that climate? The findings of the study reveal that a positive climate exists at this school in all four school climate categories. The findings also indicate that the assistant principal's attitudes and behaviors have had a significant influence in the establishment and maintenance of this climate. His impact on the climate category of order and discipline is particularly profound. The evidence reveals that he maintains, with few exceptions, a high level of trust with all of his constituent groups and that this trust, in turn, forms the basis of his effective interpersonal relationships with individuals and subgroups within the school's community. There is no evidence that this assistant principal is involved with the school's academic program in any meaningful way except to provide a safe, orderly environment in which teaching and learning can take place. In the climate category of facilities, this assistant principal makes meaningful contributions to the maintenance and upkeep of the school, but does not have a primary role in this area of school climate. These findings form the basis for recommendations for middle school assistant principal policy and practice with regard to the establishment and maintenance of positive school climate within the middle school setting.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access