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Abstract

Rural school principals often face issues of professional isolation and lack of access to leadership development opportunities. To address these challenges, the Elgin Children’s Foundation launched its Principal Support Program (PSP) in 2017 to support the development of effective school leaders in three states with high rural student populations in the Appalachian region. The PSP posited four components as essential for principal development: professional development, networking, mentoring, and learning plans. The aim of this qualitative study was to determine what PSP participants believed to be the most effective in terms of principal development. Results indicate that because of PSP training, rural principals grew from managers to instructional leaders and changed their mindsets and practices regarding shared leadership. Principals believed that they benefited most from the networking and coaching that the PSP provided. Future professional development for rural principals should consider a focus on opportunities to learn with and through others.

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