The principal's role in promoting Catholic identity and academic excellence in selected Blue Ribbon Catholic high schools

Christine Marguerite Cosgrove, Fordham University


This study proposed an examination of six principals of Catholic high schools which had received recognition as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence from the United States Department of Education. The focus of the research centered on the role of the principal in promoting the Catholic identity of the school and how the principal deals with the tension between the school's religious identity and its expectation of academic excellence. The participants were chosen by purposive selection so that a broad range of schools would be represented. Men and women principals, both religious and lay were the principals selected for this research. Participants were also selected based on their extensive experience in secondary education. The primary data collection method consisted of interviews with the principals. Two extensive interviews with each principal were designed in such a way that the principal's personal and professional history, experiences, and personal values were shared and analyzed. Following the interviews, observations were conducted in order to further amplify the responses of the principals. The researcher remained open to emergent themes throughout the interview process. The Findings in Chapter IV reveal the emergent themes of Servant Leadership and Christian Personalism. The interviews surfaced additional insight about Catholic high schools in terms of leadership theory and Catholic educational philosophy. Chapter V discusses the findings and presents them around the areas of Catholic identity, Christian community, Christian personalism, servant leadership, and the tension between the religious identity of the school and its academic excellence. The conclusion was reached that the Catholic identity of these schools is the cause of their academic excellence. Chapter V concludes with recommendations for future research on Catholic Blue Ribbon high schools.

Subject Area

Secondary education|School administration|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Cosgrove, Christine Marguerite, "The principal's role in promoting Catholic identity and academic excellence in selected Blue Ribbon Catholic high schools" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9938899.