Rural school principals in Tennessee face serious challenges in leading their schools, including isolation, high turnover, and a lack of instructional leadership skills. Facilitated by a state university, the Tennessee Rural Principals Network (TRPN) was developed to provide professional learning opportunities for rural school principals. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of principals in rural schools who participated in the TRPN during the years 2019–2021 (n = 133). The study used a basic qualitative research design with semi-structured interviews of 12 participants. Through our data analysis, key learning strengths and challenges were identified and organized under the codes of learning needs, coaching, mentoring, and networking. From these categories, we developed three themes: (a) sharing and collaborating through networks; (b) building capacity through mentoring and coaching; and (c) addressing the learning needs of principals in a rural context. Findings revealed that principals were pleased with the network and felt it helped them better navigate their roles as rural principals by providing the tools to develop best practices and a network to share ideas and resources.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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