Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mary Hallums


Elementary school principals in this study struggled to implement and maintain a positive school culture. School culture plays an essential role in schools, and school principals play a significant part in developing that culture. Positive school culture is vital in all schools, especially in high-poverty and low-performing Title I schools. This basic qualitative study involved understanding school principals' challenges in developing and maintaining a positive school culture in high-poverty and low-performing Title I schools. The transformational leadership theory was the framework for this study. Research questions were developed to understand what elementary principals of high-poverty and low-performing Title I schools consider to be barriers to creating the right culture. Five school principals with three or more years of administrative experience in high-poverty and low-performing Title I schools in the southeastern region of the United States participated in semi structured interviews. Data were analyzed and coded using thematic analysis for emergent themes. The themes that emerged from this study were leading by example, relationships, and school and community. The study also identified that servant leadership and transformational leadership played a part in developing and maintaining positive school cultures. This study will lead to social change by providing school principals with methods, best practices, and skills to create a healthy school culture that allows students to learn in a place where nurturing relationships foster student growth and development.