Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




JoeAnn Hinrichs


The decreasing number of sustaining Catholic schools has limited diversity in educational options for families, affecting local district finances, reducing potential for academic competition among schools, and increasing crime and violence in in the areas where these schools have closed. In 2013-2014, 9 out of 22 Catholic secondary schools closed or merged in the Northeast region of the United States. However, some schools in the Northeast region have been thriving and sustaining their students and programs. Utilizing Fullan's systems thinking on sustainability as conceptual framework, a descriptive case study of a successful Catholic secondary school in the Northeast region was completed to find best practices and strategies to duplicate in other Catholic schools. Nine semistructured personal interviews were conducted, and relevant school documents were reviewed. Data analyses included open and axial coding, resulting in themes that revealed elements assisting school sustainability, including effective financial planning for affordability, educational programs, collaboration, communication, diversity, administrative support, trust in leadership, Catholic identity, and safe environment. Successful leadership strategies were developed from these elements and incorporated into A Guide for Catholic School Leaders on Successful Sustainability. This guide will be presented as a professional development preparation program for secondary Catholic school leaders. This project study has the potential to produce positive social change by improving school leader preparation, increasing educational diversity, providing services to the local community, and directing outreach to the increasing immigrant population.