How spirituality affects the lives of public school superintendents

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Joseph B. Shedd


Spirituality, Public school, Superintendents

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Religion | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Research was conducted to examine how superintendents practice the social, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of wellness in helping them manage conflict and cope with job stress. Since the spiritual dimension is the least understood as it pertains to superintendents, this study specifically investigates how spirituality, in connection with the other wellness components, affects the lives of public school superintendents.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four public school superintendents. A qualitative research design was employed using modified analytic induction. The themes of groundedness, interconnectedness, self-transcendence, and servant-leadership emerged within the data. These themes formed the operational definition of spirituality for superintendents as being grounded in a true knowledge of self, possessing self-transcendence, and experiencing an interconnectedness with people and a higher being, resulting in a personal sense of satisfaction and well being. One of the findings revealed that three of the superintendents felt that spirituality and religion were synonymous. The research also indicated that interrelationships exist among spirituality and the other wellness dimensions, and that spirituality was of central importance among these educational leaders in helping them manage conflict and cope with job stress.

Implications for further research would be to strengthen generalizeability by selecting a larger, more representative sampling of superintendents, triangulating research findings by conducting case studies and/or surveying superintendents, and employing third party validation to review the research findings in conjunction with the transcripts to reduce researcher bias; to conduct a more in-depth investigation of sources of superintendents' stress as well as how they cope with it; to develop a measurement scale to assess how well superintendents who practice holistic health manage stress; to investigate the relationship between religion and spirituality as they pertain to superintendents; to examine how spiritual well-being contributes to mental health and affects job burnout; to explore the vocational dimension as a component of holistic health; and to study whether and how superintendents who do not have a core dimension are affected in terms of wellness.


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