Stress and burnout of secondary principals in a rural school district in South-Central Texas : a case study.


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Principals play an integral role in promoting the overall success of a school. Principal turnover is an increasing problem across the United States, which has created a principal shortage. Turnover of effective school principals can disrupt school progress and have an undesirable impact on rates of teacher retention and student achievement. The purpose of this study was to explore secondary principals' perspectives regarding their level of stress and burnout, identify the causes of their stress, and investigate principals' suggestions regarding which stressors may be alleviated. This study was also an examination of the impact of six contextual work areas on principals’ perceived level of stress and burnout. Knowledge about the causes and possible solutions of stress and burnout in secondary principals is needed to retain quality school leaders who stay in the profession longer than a few years. The researcher concentrated on a convenience sample of three secondary principals and their spouses in a rural mid-size town in a South-Central Texas school district. The researcher used a qualitative multicase approach to explore the real-life experiences of the participants. Data collection methods included a preinterview, one-on-one interviews, and journal entries. Five final themes emerged from the qualitative study. These included: a) workload, b) community, c) reward, d) fairness, and e) leading during a pandemic. Findings revealed in this research may be used to advise school districts on how to prevent stress and burnout in the principalship and how to better support principals. Also, findings may be used to inform principal preparation programs to better prepare future principals on ways to handle the stress and burnout associated with the principalship.



Secondary principals. Stress and burnout in the workplace. Work-life.