An Exploration of School Leadership During Times of Crisis in PK-12 Selective Settings Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Vonda Kai Martin Jenkins, Fayetteville State University


In 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic caught the world by surprise. Within a matter of weeks, schools across the United States of America were forced to close their doors indefinitely and school leaders were tasked with leading entire school communities amid the most challenging times in many of their careers. This research study captured the reflective experiences and perceptions of PK-12 educational leaders in selected settings during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020 to June 2022. Using a mixed methodological sequential approach, quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed to provide firsthand accounts of the immediate decisions and actions of school leaders amid the first four months of the deadliest pandemic since the Spanish Flu of 1918. In phase 1, a quantitative, web-based instrument collected demographic information from N=60 North Carolina PK-12 educational leaders exploring their preparedness for crisis leadership, attitudes and perceptions of self-care and the social-emotional implications associated with educational leadership amid the initial stages of a global pandemic. To extrapolate additional information, phase 2 included the purposeful selection of n=10 voluntary research study participants from the population in Phase 1 to participate in individual, semi-structured interviews. Twelve themes emerged as a result of the study. Findings suggested that school leaders were mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data suggested that selected participants from the voluntary participants suggested that not all school leaders exercised self-care practices nor did all school districts offer support or resources to school leaders during the initial months of the pandemic. Research study participants agreed that self-care and well-being should become major considerations for school leaders inside and outside of crises. Recommended future research should incorporate a national study of educational leaders, the development of a comprehensive PK-12 School Pandemic Response Guide to serve as an indispensable tool providing school leaders with clear guidance, planning strategies, and helpful “lessons learned” to carefully navigate the nuances of crisis leadership in PK-12 school settings while maintaining social-emotional well-being. Ideally, the implication of post-pandemic leadership and pedagogical delivery studies should be developed into an anthology with an executive summary that is shared in congressional hearings with the Standing Committees on Education and Labor of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate for the development of federally funded programs to address Pandemic Preparedness.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Education Policy

Recommended Citation

Martin Jenkins, Vonda Kai, "An Exploration of School Leadership During Times of Crisis in PK-12 Selective Settings Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic" (2021). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI30000160.